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CSOM, Career Center Host Inaugural ‘Bank Week’

The Boston College Career Center and the Carroll School of Management have invited 16 banks to participate in “Bank Week,” an educational experience for sophomores. The event, which is taking place this week, is designed for students to learn more about internship and career opportunities away from the pressure of recruitment and networking sessions.

Bank Week will offer a variety of information and skills development sessions, ranging from “Banking 101” sessions on Monday and Thursday to a networking event on the final day. Banks like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank will host the information sessions, typically with several representatives from different banks, teaming up to explain a field in investment banking.

“Bank Week, in large measure, is a response to gathering the banks together and saying, ‘Let’s do something educational instead of recruitment driven,’” said Joseph Du Pont, associate vice president for Student Affairs and the Career Center. “Instead of asking a sophomore to interview right away, we’ll have a week of education that you all run. We’ll coordinate and work with you, but it’ll be purely educational in nature.”

Amy Donegan, assistant dean for undergraduate career advising in CSOM, explained that the University has worked to ensure more informative aspects of the week will stand out from traditional career center experiences.

“One of the sessions literally is Bank 101, it’s like, ‘This is how a bank works, these are the different divisions of the bank, this is how it makes its money,’” she said. “It really is to give students information about these opportunities and not have to worry about networking yet.”

The University has actually put measures in place to prevent networking during the educational sessions, emphasizing that the goal of the week is to make sure students can gain an understanding of the field and their interests first.

“We’re not even allowing networking at the Monday and Thursday sessions because what used to happen is that they would do a corporate information session, and you would see all the students march out in their suits, and they would run down and there’d be a mosh pit around employers,” Donegan said. “That’s really intimidating to a lot of students, who won’t go to those because they’re thinking, ‘I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know what to say.’”

Some of those measures define the entire structure of the informational events—during bank-led question-and-answer sessions, students will text or email their questions in, rather than personally stand up. They have also been advised not to dress up during the first four days.

BC students with bank internship experience will also run some of the sessions, including interview training: Tuesday and Wednesday will be entirely student-run resume and technical training sessions, according to the posted schedule. Upperclassmen will also share their past experiences at some of the earlier information sessions.

Beyond its educational value, Bank Week also gives a boost to students who might otherwise feel locked out of the early recruiting process.

“It really is to trying to level the playing field for our students, because there could be some kids who maybe grew up with parents who worked in the industry—and they could be aware, they could have a lot of knowledge, so they’re already at an advantage,” Donegan said.

To Du Pont, leveling the playing field also means rejiggering the way students focus on different aspects of searching and preparing for jobs. Bank Week provides an opportunity for students to improve their candidacies in the professional world without relying solely on traditional mingling with prospective employers.

“It’s really hard for a student who might have some demonstrated interest, but is just learning,” Du Pont said. “They have to play a lot of catch up, which is one of the reasons we’re doing Bank Week.”

The week will culminate in a formal networking session, which will be followed by the “Diversity Candidates Lunch.” Donegan explained that the lunch gives students of color, first-generation students, and LGBTQ+ students their own opportunities to talk to interested firms, who are all targeting such demographics.

That event will not exclude any students specifically, but Donegan noted that the goal was to let underrepresented groups engage with employers.

Last spring, The Heights reported that recruiting timelines for CSOM were moving up earlier and earlier—students were being recruited in the spring of their sophomore year for internships summer after their junior year. One firm would move their interview period, causing others to follow in an investment banking arms race. This became especially true as companies began to prioritize inclusivity and diversity initiatives in recruiting.

“We don’t think it’s very reasonable—we don’t think it’s good for the schools, we don’t think it’s good for students, we don’t think it’s good for employers to ask a student to commit that far in advance,” Du Pont said.

In the fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan decided to  hold off on recruiting sophomores and return to recruiting students in the fall of their junior year, a decision that was applauded by BC, who worked with peer schools to encourage other banks to follow suit.

“Sophomores [are] still evaluating whether they’ve declared the right major, right? And so to ask them to make commitments about a career is not practical or reasonable at all,” Du Pont said. “Students change their mind later on, that’s a normal part of the educational process.”

Donegan sees Bank Week as a way to inform students about potential internship opportunities while keeping the formal race to a position at a distance. She recalled that last year, some events began to collide with final exams.

“By doing this Bank Week early enough in the semester, it allows the firms ample time to still do all their engagement events,” Donegan said. “We basically held the line and said, ‘You can’t do anything until we have our Bank Week, because we would like to educate students about these opportunities before they have to engage with you.’ That’s sort of the crux of this.”

Engagement events can run from corporate information sessions to informal chats over coffee, essentially anything that predates official interviews and networking sessions. Although recruitment events have been pushed back to junior year, many companies still start contact with students during the spring of their sophomore year.

“We’re strongly encouraging [banks] to come in the fall. We’ve been really happy with how that’s evolving—Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have been leading the charge on that,” Du Pont said. “But we know that there will be some out there who will be recruiting this spring, and we all want to take a step back and say, ‘Let’s lead with education per student.’ That’s the highest priority, so they can make informed choices.”

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff

February 4, 2019