The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Careers » Career Services Director Q&A » Career Services Director Q&A: Julie Morton of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Career Services Director Q&A: Julie Morton of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business


This week we head to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where Julie Morton, associate dean of career services, gives us a glimpse into the career counseling and job search resources Chicago Booth students have at their disposal. And there are many!

Morton has been leading career services at Chicago Booth since March 2000. An MBA herself – she graduated from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business in 1992 – she worked in retained executive search and as a financial services and strategy consultant before joining Booth. Before Tuck, she was the director of admission at Mount Holyoke College.

There is a lot to learn in the interview that follows about career services at Chicago Booth. For starters, Morton shares her office’s “mantra” – that at Chicago Booth students conduct their own job searches, but that they are not alone in them – and just what that means. Indeed, students have a huge team of professional career coaches, second-year career advisors, a career resource librarian and more at the ready to help facilitate their career management process. Read on to learn about Chicago Booth’s recruiting activities, its “trifecta” of interview training and steps Morton’s team has taken to better prepare students for job searches that increasingly include interviews via videoconference and Skype and networking via Linked In.

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

Julie Morton: At Chicago Booth, I oversee Career Services and Corporate Relations, so I lead Booth’s corporate relations strategy and outreach, and then on the Career Services front, I lead career services activities for our students and alumni globally. This includes career management programming and employer relationships with firms that seek to source talent from Chicago Booth. We work with students in all our MBA programs: the full-time, evening, weekend and executive MBA programs, as well as with alumni, so the range of employment opportunities on which we engage with employers runs the gamut from freshly-minted entry-level MBA positions to very senior roles, across all industries and functions.

We have campuses on three continents – our flagship campus in Hyde Park, our campus in downtown Chicago where our part-time programs are housed, and campuses in London and Singapore. Our students come from all over the world and seek employment all over the world, not at all limited to their countries of origin – so our employer reach is equally global on behalf of our students and alumni worldwide. We have Career Services team members on the ground in Chicago, Europe and Asia. So while I certainly deliver the occasional workshop, coach students sometimes and work directly with companies, I have a great leadership team who manage their respective areas and most of my days are spent leading these functions on a more macro level.

CA: Now about your team. How many career advisors 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?

 JM: Career Services’ “mantra” at Chicago Booth is that our students own their own job searches, but they are not alone in them. So we don’t “place” our students, we don’t find jobs for them. Instead we facilitate their career management process as we help them figure out their own strengths and interests and how those best align with the marketplace. We facilitate job opportunities for them, and we also teach them how to network and source job opportunities on their own.

As such, for students in the full-time program, we have a team of five coaches, two project managers, a career resource librarian and a career resource center manager. This team also coaches and delivers programming, so we have a total of 10 people who develop and implement all our student-facing career management programming: everything from self-assessment to résumé writing and interview training to assisting students in evaluating their offers. Some of this is in larger classrooms, much is in small groups and one on one; we start working with students the summer before they enter Chicago Booth. This team has grown slightly in recent years. We’ve added a coach so we can continue to meet students’ individual needs and deliver extremely tailored programming.

The work of the career management team is supplemented by 40 second-year Career Advisors. While our career management staff are generalists – they work with all students regardless of their industry or function focus on executing a successful career management strategy – our Career Advisors are focused by industry and function.

We also have a team of 12 professionals who work directly with employers. Within the United States, this team is organized by industry, and then we have a team member who also focuses on Latin America and Canada, a team member based in London who focuses on employer relationships across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and then another team member who sits in Hong Kong and oversees employer relationships from Japan to India. I just returned from Hong Kong, where we held a very successful Recruiters Workshop: Recruiters from companies in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore spent the day with us learning about the University of Chicago, Chicago Booth, our students and how to access Booth talent from any of our MBA programs and our alumni ranks.

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

JM: For several job functions and industries that have a formal and structured recruiting process, corporate events for first-years begin in late October. Many of these firms return to campus for interviews in January and February. For firms with less structured opportunities and timelines, networking takes place throughout the first year, with interviews in the winter and spring quarters. The process really varies based on the kinds of opportunities students seek.

In addition, many students participate in career-focused treks throughout the year. We provide a plethora of training opportunities to help students identify what to pursue and how to pursue opportunities whether it be via a structured recruiting process or for opportunities where students initiate the recruiting process.

The first few weeks students are at Booth, we ask that no recruiting activities take place. We want students to get their academic feet on the ground first, and we want them to have time to figure out which career paths might be most appropriate for them and then be able to learn about those careers in a non-evaluative, purely educational setting.

CA: How has the economy impacted recruitment at Chicago Booth? 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?

JM: We’ve always encouraged students to have a Plan B and to truly put energy into their Plan B – and to be sure Plan B is actually something they would consider doing! That’s not new, but it’s become increasingly important. Plan B should have synergies with Plan A, and a student could well end up in a Plan A job down the road, even if that’s not their first post-MBA career.

We’ve become flexible in supporting different ways firms source talent. Video conferenced and Skyped presentations, phone interviews – these are becoming more common. And with that, we’ve expanded our student training. Interviewing via video conference is not the same as interviewing in person and we want our students to put their best foot forward in either situation – which requires prep. We’ve also expanded training on networking tools that have become more important in the past few years, for example Linked In.

In recent years, in part due to the economy, in part due to shifting student interest, we have seen an increased interest in careers in the social impact space, careers at start-ups and careers in industries like retail, hospitality, healthcare and biotech. We have expanded our employer outreach in these arenas and have forged relationships with organizations like Blue Garnet, the 360 Group, Coach, Gucci and Biogen Idec and Accretive Health. This spring, we joined forces with our Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and hosted a Start-Up Networking Night that drew Uber and SpotHero.

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

JM: Our career management team facilitates a “trifecta” of interview training. In the late fall, students participate in workshops entitled “Practice Your Story.” These are followed by a day-long program in January called wInterview, where students observe function-specific interview demonstrations and conduct a video-taped mock interview. Then, they participate in the “Interview Training Program” – another mock interview akin to a dress rehearsal.

This training is supplemented by many, many Career Advisor– and student group–led interview training sessions. We also have many function-specific interview resources to help students anticipate and prepare for questions they are likely to be asked. Company research – which we consider an integral part of interview prep – and research support are readily available with a dedicated career librarian and a well-stocked Career Resource Center. We consider networking to be an important part of the interview process as well, and so we prepare our students for that part of the job search too. We have a program entitled Mocktail where students learn and practice the art of networking in a “cocktail” party setting, which helps our students hone that skill.

For first-years, companies recruiting on campus have both an invite and a bid (closed and open) portion of their interview schedules. This allows students who might not be on companies’ radar to still have a chance at gaining an interview. Booth’s interview facilities are state of the art. We have 36 dedicated interview rooms, video conference facilities and a lovely recruiters’ lounge where we serve breakfast and lunch for recruiters.

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

JM: Alumni play an active role throughout the recruiting process. They are active in students’ career education process, as students reach out for informational interviews, and then also through their participation in our Industry Immersion event in the fall, a day-long conference where students attend panels and presentations on a wide variety of industries and functions. Many alumni are actively involved with their employers’ recruiting processes – informational interviews, attending formal networking or recruiting events, conducting interviews. And then alumni post jobs and hire students outside of the formal recruiting process.

The Booth community is vibrant and powerful. This community includes our 44,000+ alumni worldwide and also our student-to-student community. Our students network with alumni and also with other students, who perhaps have worked at companies or in industries that are of interest to them. Because of our large evening, weekend and executive MBA populations, we have many students who are currently working in firms, industries and functions of interest.

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?

JM: Students who have a clear sense of why they are pursuing an MBA and why they are at Booth are at a distinct advantage in the job search process. Students who arrive on campus with a clear sense of their own strengths and interests, having done research on possible MBA careers appropriate for them, are best prepared to take advantage of the plethora of resources here. We start work with incoming students the summer before they enter Booth. That work is focused on self-assessment, networking and drafting their first MBA résumé.

This doesn’t mean that students need to be completely focused on just one or two careers, but the student who has a clear sense of the skillset they bring to the table, their interests and the overall marketplace is positioned well to work with us to refine that search and articulate their strengths in a compelling manner.