Interview Prep Week Readies Students for Influx of Employers

Now that students are settling into their routines, the University of Virginia is preparing for another wave of new arrivals: the recruiters eager to hire U.Va. students after graduation.

“Our goal is to make U.Va. the top place companies come to recruit, both for the quality of our students and the quality of the service,” said Everette Fortner, associate vice president of career and professional development. “Coming from a tradition of student self-governance, our students are client-ready. Employers feel comfortable putting them in front of a client or customer.”

Already, 189 companies have reserved slots once on-Grounds interviews begin Sept. 21. That number is higher than in past years and is expected to increase as more employers sign up for later interviews in the fall and spring.

“Participation has grown and companies – particularly those looking at students across all majors – are coming earlier and more often,” Assistant Director for Employer Relations Dillon Kuhn said. “Our days are filling up like never before and we have needed to find extra rooms to accommodate the demand.”

Full-Time Employment and On-Grounds Interviewing Preparation

To prepare students for this influx of potential employers, the U.Va. Career Center is launching an “On-Grounds Interview Prep Week,” which kicks off today. Students can attend introductory sessions explaining the logistics of on-Grounds interviews and sign up for résumé reviews and one-on-one mock interviews with alumni, employers or career counselors.

The week concludes with a Consulting Symposium training students in the case interview process, a common practice among the top consulting firms due to arrive on Grounds. (See a full schedule of the week’s events.)

Consulting and finance companies have traditionally used on-Grounds interviewing as a major part of their recruitment strategy and continue to do so. However, they are increasingly joined by companies in other industries that are interested in majors across the arts and sciences. 

“U.Va. has always attracted many consulting, investment banking and Fortune 100 companies, but many students are surprised by the breadth and variety of companies beyond those segments that are coming to Grounds,” Fortner said.

Two years ago, supported by the U.Va. Parents Fund, the University established a job developer position dedicated to building relationships with employers that recruit outside of business or engineering; Kristian Robinson, a May graduate of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, currently holds the position. The investment has paid off: last year, on-Grounds interview participation among College of Arts & Sciences students increased by 56.7 percent. Huge companies like Google, General Electric and the National Basketball Association and major nonprofits like Teach for America now come to Grounds, looking for students to fill a wide variety of roles.  

“We expect that growth to continue,” Kuhn said. “Employers are looking across majors for students who have a strong critical thinking and communications background.”

Students can find an even wider variety of opportunities posted on CavLink, U.Va.’s jobs board. In August alone, more than 500 companies combined to post more than 1,000 jobs.

“The job postings include a broad, rich set of companies that might not travel to Grounds because they only need a few employees, but that are nonetheless very interested in hiring U.Va. graduates,” Fortner said. 

Internships and Student Employment

Younger students will find that this year’s internship opportunities come early and often.

“Competition for top student interns has grown and some companies are moving their internship interviewing earlier in the fall,” Fortner said. “This puts a lot of pressure on students who have just chosen their major, and is one reason that we have added extra preparation opportunities.”

On Friday, the Career Center hosted its first Student Employment and Internship Fair showcasing employment opportunities among different departments on-Grounds, which include opportunities in finance, marketing and product development. 

“The University is really a microcosm of the broader world of work, and employment on-Grounds can be a fantastic launching point for careers beyond U.Va.,” said Kimberly Link, associate director of the U.Va. Internship Center.

The Internship Center helps students find experiential learning opportunities and prepare applications with one-on-one advising and small-group workshops. Additionally, students in any year can join one of six new Career Communities to connect with alumni and employers in their field of interest. Communities available this year include Business, Creative Arts, Media and Design, Education, Government and Law, Engineering, Science and Technology, and Public Service.

“We just registered 2,000 first-year students for Career Communities at the Student Activities Fair, which is an amazing response. I am so excited for students to engage with with this new approach. Career Communities personalize and bring careers into focus in what can be a very overwhelming process,” Link said. “For students just starting their U.Va. experience, this is the perfect time to explore careers, get involved on Grounds, consider student employment or job shadowing and build their skills.

Beginning that preparation now will help students secure opportunities that can sharpen their personal goals and successes in post-graduation employment.

“Students often tell me that they do not know what they want to do, but the only way to find out is to start trying opportunities through internships, externships or job shadowing,” Fortner said. “You will learn what you like and what you are good at and you will be that much closer to finding what you are passionate about.” 

Students looking to begin their career search should connect with the U.Va. Career Center. Parents or alumni interested in recruiting U.Va. students for job or internship opportunities may contact Assistant Director for Employer Relations Dillon Kuhn.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

University News Associate Office of University Communications