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Eager to hire top talent, firms get involved at UNC Kenan-Flagler

How employers can build their brand on campus - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolApplying for internships or full-time positions at top firms is no small feat for UNC Kenan-Flagler students. But what students might not be thinking about as they prepare for the big interview is just how hard the recruiters have worked to get them interested in the first place.

Students who think critically and creatively to solve real-world problems are a hot commodity.

“Almost every single company that recruits here tells us, ‘We love UNC Kenan-Flagler!’’ says David Vogel (MBA ’99), director of career development for the Undergraduate Business Program. “We got two students but we want six” is a sentiment often expressed by recruiters.

Hiring a talented workforce might be the biggest investment a company makes, so identifying talented students is critically important. The recruiting process starts on an earlier timeline and involves more engagement on campus than ever before.

Companies begin relationship-building with Undergraduate Business students during the fall of their sophomore year and even as early as their first year for minority candidates, says Vogel. This trend is most common in the investment banking and consulting areas, also known as “the vortex” at UNC Kenan-Flagler since 49 percent of 2015 graduates went to work in these two job functions. The same is true for MBA students who begin company interactions just a month after first-year orientation.

So how exactly do recruiters differentiate themselves from the competition? No longer can they just post a job on Careerolina, the UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate recruiting database, or CMC Connect, its MBA counterpart, and call it a day. Whether a company is recruiting MBA, Undergraduate, or Master of Accounting students, modern recruiting methods have to be engaging to be effective.

How employers can build their brand on campus - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolRed Ventures is the poster child for successfully building its brand on campus, says Vogel. The marketing and sales service firm approached UNC Kenan-Flagler seeking more students and a deeper connection to the School. Since then, Red Ventures has implemented several strategies to accomplish its goals, including providing a project for a communication class, hosting a digital marketing boot camp and bringing both the CEO and co-founder/chief marketing officer to speak at the School.

Strategies used by other companies include sponsoring case study competitions and hosting information sessions and site tours.

Student clubs are also a great way for executives and recruiters to engage with students interested in particular job functions. The Undergraduate Business Marketing Club invited Target CMO Jeff Jones to speak, and organizations can facilitate Company Shadow Days, an innovative program pioneered by the MBA Marketing Club. Top-tier marketing companies host students on-site for a truly immersive experience for one to two days. Students partner with a brand manager and participate in a range of activities – everything from attending meetings to making decisions and networking with other employees.

Participating in and sponsoring events are ways for companies to build their brands and show students that they’re serious about getting involved at UNC Kenan-Flagler. The annual Undergraduate Business Symposium, one of UNC’s largest career development events, sells out every level of event sponsorships year after year. Some firms support projects, like North Highland, which sponsors the MBA Consulting Club newsletter.

Business leaders headline the Healthcare Conference, Carolina Women in Business Conference, Real Estate Conference and Alternative Investments Conference. Venture capitalists serve as judges at the Venture Capital Investment Competition and connect with and top MBA students from around the world.

How employers can build their brand on campus - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolAnd when firms have business challenges they would like addressed by student consulting teams, they turn to the Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR) and STAR Global programs.

Alumni are the most effective way for companies to engage with students, says Mike Schmidt (MBA ’07), director of admissions and career services for the Master of Accounting Program. Students prefer to hear from recent grads – their peers – about what it’s like to work for a particular company. Recruiters often select former interns as student ambassadors, who speak to prospective candidates about their time with the company. They might even ask them to blog about it!

The School nurtures strong relationships with corporate partners and is building them with new companies, says Carrie Harbinson (BSBA ’07).

“While it takes time to build a strong brand presence on campus as have Dell and Deloitte – historically two of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s strongest partners – companies that thoughtfully invest in building relationships with students rather than approaching them in a purely transactional way see results,” says Harbinson. “The companies that develop strategic partnerships with an academic institution – versus just a recruiting relationship – are the ones that achieve invaluable value, longevity and depth.”