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Clear Admit Career Services Director Q&A: Regina Resnick, Columbia Business School


It’s a new year, and we’re launching a new series here at Clear Admit. To kick off 2011 we’ll be sharing our exclusive interviews with directors of career services centers at each of the top business schools around the globe.

In this new series we have asked a range of questions designed to help prospective applicants get a fuller sense of the career services offerings at each MBA program. As with our Admissions Director Q&A Series, we have asked the same questions of each director in order to give applicants the ability to make direct school-to-school comparisons.

We hope the interviews will help you learn what to expect when you get to campus, understand the relative strengths of each school’s career services centers, get to know a little about the directors themselves and think about what you can do before you even apply to help ensure that you have the most successful job search possible.

In our debut interview, we speak with Regina Resnick, assistant dean and managing director of the Career Management Center (CMC) at Columbia Business School (CBS). Resnick has been at CBS since 1996 and has led the CMC since 1999. The role of the CMC has grown in Resnick’s decade plus at the school. Once serving just full-time MBA students, the center now provides services to Executive MBAs and MS students as well.

Before joining CBS, Resnick worked in each the private, public and nonprofit sectors. She was a partner in an advertising agency in New York, she obtained an MBA herself from the Wharton School and she worked as a research associate for the economic advisors to the president in Washington, DC.

Read on to learn more about the Career Management Center Resnick leads, how she views her role as its director, the recruitment process at CBS and more.

Clear Admit: How do you view your role as Career Services Director? Is it to administer workshops? Counsel students? Counsel companies? Manage the entire office and oversee its various functions? All of the above?

Regina Resnick: My role is a multi-faceted one that I enjoy immensely. It encompasses all of the responsibilities you mention. Overall, I set the strategic vision for the office, which has a talented group of professionals who offer career education and advising programming and others who handle employer relations to manage existing relationships as well as conduct extensive business development. Among initiatives in the past few years with which I‘ve been engaged are developing a first-class, industry-based alumni Columbia Coaching program for students, creating a unique Digital Media Center to better prepare our students and deepening student peer-to-peer advising with a Career Fellows Program.

CA: Now, about your team. How many placement professionals do you have? Is this a relatively constant figure? If not, how has it changed in recent years? How might it change in the near future?

RR: We actually don’t have anyone officially designated as a “placement” professional per se, rather we refer to those ten members of the team who work on a day-to-day basis with recruiters as employer relations professionals. We facilitate all sorts of opportunities for students to meet with employers and position themselves for success by obtaining positions at a variety of organizations. The team travels with students across world markets and cultivates new relationships by tapping into the extensive, global Columbia Career Network.

I should note that office contact with employers is not solely in the domain of the Employer Relations team. All of our office professionals have engagement with recruiters during the year.

CA: Can you provide prospective applicants with an overview of the recruitment process at CBS? When does it start? How does it unfold?

RR: Admitted students who have committed to the Columbia Business School full-time MBA program have the chance to participate in pre-MBA Career Days over the summer. During those sessions, they are introduced to members of the Career Management Center and some members of the Columbia Career Network. We review the timeline and programming at that time with Career Education and Advising, commencing more formally at orientation and employer-specific recruiting events commencing at the end of September.

First-year interviews start in early to mid-January, and second-year recruiting starts in late October. We’re sure to review hiring cycles with students at the outset as they vary by industry. And, we also have sessions to demystify logistics so that students can focus on more substantive, marketing and content preparation.

A small number of our Executive MBAs who are seeking entry-level positions will participate in recruiting for full-time positions. However, most are currently working with a select group seeking experienced level jobs. We do have employer and networking sessions during the academic year for those students to assist them in their job search.

CA: How has the economy impacted recruitment at CBS? How have you and your staff remained flexible or adapted in order to help students navigate a more challenging job market? Have you encouraged flexibility on the part of students themselves?

RR: I’m not aware of any school that was immune to the global economic crisis which has ensued over the past few years. That said, we fared better than we may have given that our students and alumni have shown a fortitude and seriousness of purpose throughout this crisis. They have rolled up their sleeves and gotten on with the heavy lifting to secure employment: They’ve taken great care in preparing their marketing materials, conducted due diligence to demonstrate their knowledge of recruiting organizations and further pursued their passions in the classroom and community to distinguish themselves in interviews.

The Career Management Center and the students were pragmatic in their approach to the crisis. We never take outcomes for granted. In fact, during “up cycles” we are well aware that “down cycles” follow so we are always cultivating our relationships with employers. And, we do not cultivate those relationships alone. We have a very active Corporate Relations office at the school and members of the Columbia Community – from the Dean’s office to our academic programs and centers, alumni and Board of Overseers – all come together to support students’ career development.

CA: How does your team counsel students regarding the interview? Is there a formal mock interview process?

RR: Students must be prepared to convey to hiring managers how they will add value to the organization immediately. There are a myriad of ways in which we prepare students for MBA-level interviews. Our required MBA Recruitment Prep program includes small group mock interview sessions where students are taped and given feedback. They can also work one on one with advisors, coaches and Career Fellows, a select group of second-year MBA student advisors that we train to help prepare their first-year peers. Industry and functional clubs also provide immense support. There is a plethora of material on the Career Management Center website to help students prepare, including “Recruiter Tips” videos with employers offering insights on what they look for during the interview process.

CA: How are interview schedules administered? Is there an established policy regarding how closed and open interviews should be conducted? What facilities are available for interviews? 

RR: Most formal interviews scheduled through the school are conducted on campus. We encourage companies to offer open schedules in addition to inviting select students on closed schedules. Often, this helps firms uncover appropriate, dedicated candidates they may have somehow overlooked. Our Career Management Center has a recruiters’ lounge and about 20 interview rooms. In addition, we sometimes utilize other rooms available on campus that meet recruiters’ needs.

CA: What kind of role do alumni play in CBS’s recruiting process? How integral are they to your office’s success? Is alumni participation a major part of your placement platform?

RR: Columbia Business School alumni are an indispensible part of the overall recruiting process. The overall Columbia Career Network, which includes our 39,000 alumni as well as faculty, Board of Overseers, faculty and staff, are engaged at all times in the recruiting process. Many of the top employers who recruit here have teams of alumni dedicated to the process.

Our office has 25 alumni Career Coaches who offer industry insights to students in person and through online “Coaching Tips.” Alumni visit campus on an ongoing basis to participate in career panels, in the classroom and at other career education events. And, they are an integral part of the Career Management Center’s business development efforts. The school and the students are fortunate to have a dedicated alumni base.

CA: Do you have any advice for prospective applicants in terms of what they might do in advance of the MBA program to be better prepared for the job search process? In your experience, do you find that students who have done x, y or z before arriving on campus have a more successful experience with career services and the job search as a whole?

RR: When students apply to Columbia we ask them to articulate their career goals. It is important that prospective students have a clear notion of how they anticipate using their time in the program to advance those career goals. Two years pass relatively quickly, and it’s helpful to have conducted self-assessment so that you enter the program with an awareness of your current interests, skills and values as well as how these fit in with your current sense of your longer-term career goals. This will inform your choice of industry and function. We offer committed students an array of online tools to help them conduct self-assessment and fundamental industry research as well to start developing their marketing materials. It makes the intensive recruiting process less daunting and more productive.