Once again, as in so many years past, this spring will usher in the time for that age-old college tradition: the on-campus job fair. For the soon to be college graduate, job fairs are an opportunity to meet recruiters from corporations of nearly every type and potentially secure that coveted job prior to graduation. Although doing so has become increasingly less likely ever since the country’s plunge into an economic crisis rivaled only by the Great Depression, good news may be on the horizon. Economists are starting to show signs of being optimistic about the post-recession job market, a fact welcomed by members of the Class of 2013. Today, companies that have survived the recession are revisiting this recruitment strategy and poising themselves to interview and hire the best and brightest straight out of America’s top talent pools—the country’s foremost universities and colleges. According to Forbes’ latest list of America’s top colleges, that group is led by Princeton followed by three other Ivy League schools—Yale (#5), Harvard (#6) and Columbia (#8). With the exception of Cornell (#51), all seven of the eight Ivy League schools were in the top 50 universities in the country.
Where will the graduates of these colleges go?
If history is any indication, many Ivy League grads will head to New York and take jobs on Wall Street. Many will march straight into Wall Street’s investment banks and financial institutions or even their close cousins, business consulting firms. Last year, the New York Times reported the results of a 2010 survey indicating that a significant percentage of graduates from Princeton, Yale, and Harvard opted for careers in finance (35.9%, 14% and 17%, respectively). Other top career choices included management, consulting, and education. The rest chose to pursue law degrees or join industry sectors (manufacturing, real estate, services, etc.) to take on sales and marketing, engineering, or IT-related jobs. Some also established startup companies.
Although Wall Street may have lost some of its allure in recent years, many still believe that finance and business consulting can provide lucrative careers for many of America’s finest and sharpest young minds. In fact, all four of Dartmouth’s 2012 valedictorians chose to begin their careers on Wall Street—three with investment banks and one with a large business consulting firm. The reasons underlying the persistence of Wall Street’s post-grad appeal are not completely clear. A controversial article published in the Washington Post brazenly suggested that the failure of the liberal arts education to provide students with any real marketable skills is largely to blame. In spite of countless hours spent in the pursuit of knowledge, students often find themselves at the end of their college careers confused as to what exactly they are qualified to do. Given that so many of Wall Street’s institutions promise to provide new hires with training and experience, it is not difficult to understand why such an offer would be compelling.
The article also raised other more obvious reasons why Wall Street remains such a big draw for Ivy Leaguers (a few of which are open for a debate and a subject of another article). For one thing, Wall Street boasts a substantial number of Ivy League alumni who aggressively recruit from their alma mater, perhaps because they feel they know what they can expect of these grads. They are smart, hardworking, and ambitious— traits that any institution would value. Conversely, new grads are always looking for mentors to help them get on the right career track—and who better to help them out than their fellow alumni?
An additional draw for these grads may simply be the lure of New York—if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It’s the city where everything happens, and where some of the world’s most important—business tycoons, real estate moguls and media magnates—work and live. It’s ambitious, exciting, competitive, and challenging—perhaps not all too different than the environment from which many recent graduates are coming.
What does this mean for the members of the graduating Class of 2013?
The ongoing migration from the Ivy League to Wall Street confirms that college grads are already well aware of the factors that are crucial to career success. Their gravitation to institutions promising on the job training and practical experience indicates they know a good education may give you a leg up on the competition, but skills and experience are ultimately what matter most. Moreover, they recognize that often it’s not what you know, but who you know. If you are going to make it in this world, it’s not a bad idea to situate yourself where the action is and associate yourself with the right people. All things considered, for the graduating class of 2013, Wall Street will probably continue to be a pretty good bet.
In October of 2010, the New York based wine distributor Lot 18 embarked upon a noble mission of providing consumers with greater access to high-quality, hard-to-find wines at reduced prices. The startup, founded by Philip James, began selling wine at a discount to a free membership base primarily through flash sales. Each product was offered for a specified limited amount of time or until all of the available bottles had been purchased, with several new products being offered each day.
Just a few months following its launch, Lot 18 had succeeded in securing 500,000 users. By late 2011, it had sold 500,000 bottles of wine and attracted $30 million from investors such as Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and FirstMark Capital; the company was on track to generate multi-millions in its first year.
In spite of the startup fairy tale beginning, Lot 18 soon found itself embroiled in the difficult struggle to become profitable. By the beginning of 2013, the company had announced two rounds of layoffs within a twelve month period. The first round, announced in January 2012, was directly linked to the decision to discontinue its foray into the travel and food businesses, which had begun shortly before the company had raised the $30 million in venture capital. Then, in January of this year, the company laid off 25 more employees, bringing its headcount to nearly half of what it had been the previous year. This second round of layoffs was also accompanied by the announcement that the company would undergo significant restructuring of its business model. Whereas the site’s original focus was on the promotion of flash sales, it was now looking to reposition itself as a subscription company. Founder James was to take the lead in the subscription aspect of the business, and former CMO Jay Sung was named as the company’s new CEO.
With its undeniable popularity, there’s a strong chance that you’ve heard of little company called Amazon.com (unless you live under a rock & this rock has no internet connectivity for some reason). In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that Amazon has become a household name synonymous with online shopping. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, with initial start-up capital coming from his parents, Amazon originally started out as an online bookstore. Modest ambition? Hardly. Bezos envisioned a diverse world of e-commerce the likes of which no one had seen; 19 years later his dream has come to fruition as Amazon.com has grown drastically in both size & breadth. In fact, it has grown so much that it has become the world’s largest online retailer. While they still sell books, Amazon now sells a huge variety of products — games, electronics, clothing, music, toys, groceries, and just about everything in-between.
Physical goods are not the end of it, however — Amazon boasts a significant presence in digital goods & next-ggn cloud services: its own online music & app store, video streaming, S3 online storage, EC2 cloud computing & much more. Amazon also offers a huge selection of ebooks for quick & easy downloading. It even produces its own consumer electronics, including the increasingly popular Kindle Fire.
Not a buyer? If you’re more interested in selling products, Amazon will let you set up your own storefront at minimal cost. If you’re not a professional seller (for example, if you sell only 40 items per month or less), Amazon takes a very reasonable $0.99 per sale. Professional sellers, on the other hand, can expect a hefty $39.99 per month fee. Amazon even has content creation covered, allowing people a platform to distribute their own publishing material. If you’re an aspiring author and can’t afford to produce your own books, Amazon could provide you with a great avenue to start making money by selling your material in e-book format.
Amazon’s versatility in product & distribution means that they hire only the best & brightest talent, in a variety of different job positions. With its ever-growing popularity and large range of services, it’s safe to say that Amazon will remain a household name & powerhouse employer for the foreseeable future.
With Fashion Week kicking-off this week, all eyes are on NYC. For creative women looking for exciting careers that showcase their flair & style, the city that never sleeps unquestionably has a lot to offer.
If you’re a woman living in (or thinking of moving to!) New York, here are 4 of the hottest companies to work for today.
Often referred to as the “Amazon of Luxury”, this NYC online fashion and lifestyle retailer has changed the way that people shop. Relying on a membership-only flash sale business model, its massive userbase make a mad dash to their computers everyday at noon to browse time-sensitive deals on stylish luxury products, which include popular fashion brands as Prada, Botkier and Derek Lam. Their mission statement is clear:
“Create the most exciting, curated shopping experience that helps our members express their style in life.”
Gilt Group has some uniquely named roles (buyers are called “curators”), whose qualifications include “a passion for fine food, wines, arts, culture and city life.” This unique fashion retailer creates an exceptionally inspiring working environment for the right candidate. (http://www.gilt.com/company/careers/jobs)
Moda Operandi brings the once-exclusive couture trunkshow to the masses. This premier fashion website redefines shopping in style, offering clients “looks straight from the unedited runway collections of the world’s top designers–months before they are available anywhere else.”
Founded by exceptionally talented & accomplished Áslaug Magnúsdóttir (Icelandic superstar whos pedigree includes HBS, McKinsey, and a law degree). The company’s organization chart reads like a fashion magazine: where will you fit in? Roles include Trunk Show Producer, Editorial Assistant and Photographer, among others. (http://modaoperandi.com/careers)
AHAlife describes itself as the discovery shopping destination for curated lifestyle products that span design, technology, fashion, media, food, beauty and travel. Each product is carefully selected by company curators, established names and experts in each of its selling categories. Its website features a carefully editorialized “stories” page, which sets it apart from your usual, run-of-the-mill e-commerce site.
Innovative, fashion forward and full of style, AHAlife currently has open positions in engineering, design and buying. (http://www.ahalife.com/jobs/)
Conde Nast is a world-renowned publisher with magazines that span a wide scope of topics—including food, travel, fashion and style—and a wide range of brands—including GQ, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, Style.com and Vanity Fair.
It’s one of the oldest, too. But if you think that its traditional or boring, think again. People who work for Conde will tell you that its work environment is dynamic, inspiring and fast-paced; all made possible by the tremendous level of talent. And did we mention that about one-third of its employees are women?
Conde Nast is currently looking to fill positions in advertising, editorial and corporate. (http://www.condenast.com/careers/career-opportunities)
Reverse mentoring is just a fancy name for a relationship where a seasoned employee learns from a younger employee. You may already be doing it today.
Source: ROI of Reverse Mentoring
How many cows are there in Canada? How many tears are shed between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the southwestern United States? If you think these are just any old brain teasers, guess again. These are actual questions asked of Google applicants in the early stages of interviewing. They are likely on the “ban” list, but you’ll be sure to find equally diabolical ones during your interview.
Insanely difficult? Probably, but the best approach is to remember that they’re only partially judging you on your answer; how you answer these questions & your thought process behind it is infinitely more important.
If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?
People have compared DIY haven Etsy to everything from “a crafty cross between Amazon and eBay”
to, more humorously, “your grandma’s basement.” Either way, the website strives to put the “personal”
back into e-commerce and effectively close the gap between producer and consumer — making it
possible for struggling students and stay-at-home moms alike to run successful online storefronts from
the comfort of, well, anywhere.
Wares include everything from handmade and vintage clothing to jewelry, artwork, and bath and
beauty products. There’s often special emphasis on environmentally-friendly creations that use recycled
materials, and quirky, one-of-a-kind items that offer distinct counterpoint to predictable, mass-
produced commercial goods. It costs less than a quarter ($0.20) to list an item, and Etsy takes 3.5% of
your final sale.
Ex-CEO Robert Kalin named the site Etsy because he “wanted a nonsense word [to] build the brand
from scratch. I was watching Fellini’s 8 ½ and writing down what I was hearing. In Italian, you
say ‘etsi’ a lot. It means ‘oh, yes.’ And in Latin, it means ‘and if.’” First launched in 2005 and primarily
promoted via word-of-mouth, Etsy has since become home to over 875,000 sellers who have brought in
over $525 million in sales.
Kalin saw Etsy “as a cultural movement that could revive the power and voice of the individual
against the depersonalized landscape of big-box retail” (Wired). In other words, there’s a very strong
emphasis on community and helping one another, sort of like a giant, friendly online craft fair. Or
as it’s explained on their official blog, “when you buy a gift from a seller on Etsy, you’re directly
supporting people in local communities all over the world while giving something uniquely special and
meaningful to someone you care about.”
Currently positions are open in communications, operations, and software engineering… and if you’re
still not convinced that this is the place for you, better check out the cozy corporate offices in Brooklyn.
Facebook isn’t just about sharing pictures and statuses with friends anymore… it’s becoming an integral part of the hiring process. Strong social connections are still the very best way to land your dream job. Facebook’s new Jobs app just launched with 1.7 million listings that can be sorted based on industry, location, and skills.
…this could represent “a tipping point” for the social recruiting industry, because it helps people “realize that Facebook isn’t just about pictures and friends, it’s about social connections you can use to find your next job or hire someone.”
1 In this recession, managing your career presents some serious challenges. You’ll need a determined & focused attitude (with a lot of research thrown in for good measure). Look at the bigger picture, research your industry, and use search tools to help you better understand the marketplace… find what the most recession-proof jobs are in your field and target them! It’s a different type of market now. You may be brilliant, with an exceptional academic record and impeccable experience, but in this climate you’ll need to remember that there thousands of people out there that are equally good (you are not a special snowflake). You need to stand out! Start thinking from an employer’s perspective and what they’ll gain if they hire you. Be confident, not arrogant.
2 Speak to people in your field, network online & offline, and get yourself out there. If you know someone who works for a successful company, offer to help out for a week or two at no cost to the company. Use any means you can to get a foot-in-the-door & you’ll get some facetime with the added benefit of hands-on experience. Contact companies directly: cold-call and let HR know about your skills & experience; inquire about short-term contracts or freelance opportunities. In this market, you may be exactly what they need, but the company may lack the budget for a permanent role.