Career Boot Camp puts economics students through their paces

The program at USC Dornsife offers tailored training in preparation for Fall Career Fair

September 15, 2016 Laura Paisley

How did economics students prepare for today’s Fall Career Fair at USC?

They met with faculty, staff, alumni and working professionals on Sept. 9 for a day of comprehensive professional training specially tailored to them.

The first Economics Career Boot Camp at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences was a collaboration of the Department of Economics, the Economics Leadership Council (ELC) and the USC Dornsife Career Pathways Office.

Juniors, seniors and graduate students, all specifically interested in the industries and professional opportunities related to economics, took part in the day’s activities, at one point listening to a lecture from Career Services on writing resumes and cover letters. In breakout sessions, students worked on their resumes with industry professionals, including several USC alumni. Students also learned job interview skills and practiced in small groups during mock interviews.

The industry professionals at the event, most affiliated with the three-year-old ELC, represented such companies as J.P. Morgan, DBS Bank, UBS financial services company, XB Logistics, PRG Fund L.P., Oaktree Capital Management, Cornerstone consulting and CDI Management.

Brushing up on techniques

Senior Elizabeth Kanovsky, who is earning her bachelor’s in economics and mathematics at USC Dornsife, recently returned from studying abroad and wanted to get a solid refresher on writing resumes and interview techniques. In her morning breakout session, she volunteered to share her resume for critique by her fellow students and the two alumni group leaders.

“They were able to say, ‘Oh, you have experience with this and that’s really good — that’s the kind of thing we look for, so highlight that.’ And coming from the same [economics] background, they knew what I was trying to get at,” she said.

Kanovsky appreciated the individualized notes she received, coming away with a new appreciation for brevity in her resume.

“Everything I’ve done is my baby so I don’t want to get rid of anything, but my spacing and formatting definitely needed improvement. Rambling on about how I tutor every Wednesday is a lot less relevant when there are a thousand other resumes in the pile.”

No one-size-fits-all undertaking

Senior Kyron Richard is an economics and Spanish double major. He has learned the importance of finding opportunities to speak with hiring experts who can help students craft their personal statement, which they can then present to potential employers.

“Especially as an economics major, there are so many relevant job fields you can apply to,” he said. “For example, I’m looking at finance, consulting or even pure banking. So knowing how professionals in a variety of industries look at things is really critical.”

He recognizes that applying for jobs is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking, and the boot camp gave him good insight on how to market himself the right way to the right people.

“It’s all about knowing your audience, being aware of how qualitative the process is and leveraging that to your advantage. You take the sum of your experience to try and craft the best application you can for each position.”