Star Search

Companies are increasingly looking in top MBA programs for finance talent.

A similar process occurs at many other companies, including Raytheon. Candidates are sliced, diced, and ranked, and then discussed on a qualitative level by everyone who interacted with them. An applicant’s “drive” is just as important as his numerical score, says Durkin, since “the worst thing we could do is bring in the wrong person with a strong résumé.”

Once the offers go out, though, it’s the company that has to wait on pins and needles. Most companies expect about a 50 percent acceptance rate and realize that candidates will typically wait until all their offers are in to make a final decision. Baron, for one, receives an offer from PG&E, but spends another month assessing opportunities at other companies. By January 12, three days before the company deadline, she decides to accept, as do half of those who also got offers from the company. Now it only remains to match candidates’ preferences with available assignments and set them up with mentors.

For this season, at least, the mating dance is over. Both Ananda Baron and Chris Johns can rest easy — no more awkward meals, no more numerical rankings — until next fall, when it starts all over again, on campus.

Alix Stuart is senior writer at CFO.

What I Did Last Summer

With the market for MBAs heating up, some companies are taking no chances on getting leftovers. Summer internships are now a common prelude to full-time employment at many firms, with some companies persuading as many as 100 percent of their interns to come back after graduation.

Since recruiting has become so competitive, “we have really shifted our emphasis to recruiting first-year MBAs for summer assignments,” says Peter Hong, vice president and treasurer at Avaya. In the past two years, the company has had between five and eight interns each summer, making offers to all of them at the end of their internships. This season, the program yielded two new full-time hires.

Meanwhile, Chevron extended offers to all six of its summer interns last year for its two-year finance rotation, and all accepted, making it an unusually good year, according to program leader Eduardo Fernandez-Moran. The company hired an additional four second-year MBAs to round out the incoming class.

The approach reduces the risk of hiring. “A summer internship is like a 12-week interview for us; you really get a sense of whether this person would be successful,” says Alan Gallo, senior vice president of corporate planning and analysis and head of MBA campus recruitment for finance at American Express. At Raytheon, the company admittedly does less initial screening for interns, but extends offers to only about 40 percent of them after closer evaluation over the summer.

The big caveat with summer internships? Avoiding the bait and switch, says Hong. “We try very hard to make sure the projects we give to summer associates are representative of work we’ll give to people in the financial leadership rotation program,” he adds. — A.S.

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