Employment Q&A: Penn State University Smeal College of Business

Employment Q&A: Penn State University Smeal College of Business main image

To learn more about the graduate recruitment assistance available at Penn State University Smeal College of Business, we spoke to Ryan Hess, assistant director of Employer Relations and Recruitment at the business school.

Hess has ten years of experience in higher education with various positions in athletics, admissions, and career services. He has been at the Smeal College of Business for just over one year as the assistant director of Employer Relations and Recruitment. Prior to Smeal he worked for the W.P. Carey School of Business on their MBA admission team, with other roles at other schools too.

Who are the top 10 employers of your programs?

  1. Dell Inc.
  2. Deloitte Consulting LLP
  3. Amazon.com, Inc.
  4. Apple Inc.
  5. Johnson & Johnson
  6. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV
  7. The Gap Inc.
  8. The Lubrizol Corporation
  9. Highmark Inc.
  10. Air Products & Chemicals Inc.

How have your top employers changed over the years and what has led to this?

The vast alumni network has been the biggest driving factor for the change in employers. We have many relationships dating back to the 80’s and 90’s, including ExxonMobil, Deloitte, Air Products & Chemicals, Dell, and Johnson & Johnson. Companies like Apple, Amazon, and The Gap have been more recent editions to our list of top employers. Many companies recruit our MBA’s because alumni join the company and thrive, or they see our highly ranked supply chain programs and realize that the Smeal MBA is more than just supply chain once they begin working with us. Our companies find value in how our finance concentration focuses on corporate finance and our marketing program focuses in business-to-business marketing. These differentiators allow our students to provide better value to their future employers since there are few schools that have consciously focused their programs in those directions.

Where do the majority of your students end up after graduation?

The majority of Penn State Smeal MBAs end up in one of four functions after graduation: operations/logistics, marketing/sales, consulting, and finance/accounting. While these functional roles are somewhat limited, the industries our students end up in are much more varied. The top three industries that Smeal MBAs end up in are technology, consulting, and manufacturing. However, these only make up about 60 percent per year on average. The remaining 40 percent consists of healthcare, retail, consumer products, financial services, hospitality, mining, energy, and many other industries.

What can your school do for graduates outside of your city to get a job?

Largely due to our amazing alumni base, our students can end up anywhere in the country. Over the past three years, our largest contingent of students have ended up working in the Southwest region of the US (21 percent), with the Mid Atlantic and South tying for second most (18 percent), and the Midwest (17 percent), West (15 percent), and Northeast (13 percent) finishing up the regions in that order.  

What services does your career center provide to students?

The career team has a strong relationship with each student. With our small class size, we can begin working with students during the summer and personalize each career coaching meeting, resume review, interview prep session, or anything else the student needs. We also offer a simulated interview program, both in-person and virtually, where our alumni come back to coach our students. During orientation we cover professional integrity while also having a session on improv/story telling to help with their pitch practice. We do networking sessions, etiquette dinners, mock career fairs, treks, and many more things to help our students with their individualized career goals.

What programs does the university offer to help with internships and jobs?

Penn State University offers many opportunities for students to interact and connect with companies and alumni. Penn State’s Central Career Office organizes and runs Fall & Spring Career Days, where over 550 companies come to campus in the Fall and over 300 companies come in the Spring to recruit Penn Staters. This office also began a Small Business & Startup Career Fair in the Fall of 2019 which brought in 33 different companies from various industries looking to hire students.

The Smeal College of Business also runs its own career fairs. There are three fairs that are widely utilized by our graduates, Smeal #MegaFair, Smeal Corporate Partners Fair, and Supply Chain Career Fair. The #MegaFair and Corporate Partners Fair are run each fall and includes 80 and 19 companies respectively, while the Supply Chain Fair had over 100 companies join us last Fall.

How have the careers/jobs for graduates changed over time at your institution?

In the past, the Smeal MBA was well known for its finance program within the MBA and that is where the majority of our students took jobs post-graduation. However, with the rise of popularity of the supply chain management field of study, the number one concentration in the MBA program has shifted and so have the companies. The most popular industries have transitioned to technology and consulting firms meaning a change in popular concentrations.

Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Assistant Editor of TopMBA.com, creating and editing content for an international MBA student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of the business world.  

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