Thursday, August 10, 2006

College Networking Resource Group Meeting - 8/9/06

The DC-Area based College Networking Resource Group (CNRG) held it's latest meeting yesterday at the Beers & Cutler office in McLean, VA. The CNRG was founded over a decade ago by Seth Feit, Gary Cluff, Al Jones, and others to share college recruiting best practices amongst top companies in the area. Much has changed in the past decade, Seth moved to Charlotte, Mark Clark took over, then he moved to Charlotte (something about the Queen City...), we went from boom times, to bust, and back to 'boom' again. Through it all, the CNRG has continued to meet three times a year and is lead today by Jim Donnelly of HPTI. I myself was a regular attendee through 2000 when I left BAE to go to Intelsat, where I did not do as much college recruiting. I first met Gary at the CNRG, and several years later, he ended up hiring me! The power of networking in action!

With my current employer, I'm doing some strategic work in college recruiting, as it has always remained a passion of mine. I made it back to my first CNRG meeting in a few years last August, and attended again yesterday. There were over 25 college recruiting professionals in attendance, representing such major local/national employers as Booz Allen, Freddie Mac, PA Consulting, Corporate Executive Board, Capital One, AOL, Kearney, HNS, CoStar, ICF, CGI, and the hosts Beers & Cutler and HPTI. These meetings have always followed a loose agenda with a very open sharing of ideas and best practices. Some highlights included:
  • Most recruiting organizations are still finding challenges in getting their managers to commit to building a bench, focus their efforts early in the season, and commit to hiring goals.
  • Hiring college students on F-1 visas is a major challenge for many.
  • Most companies are using alumni and returning interns for their on-campus recruiting efforts.
  • One company offered scholarship opportunities to entice students to return the following summer.
  • Several companies focused on providing Interns with offers before they head back for their Senior year.
  • The topic of decision dates was interesting. Employers were allowing 1-4 weeks for students to make decisions on offers. What was surprising was that some schools were now requiring a one month offer decision minimum, and others were not allowing companies to extend offers until after December 1.
  • Some companies were hosting College Days at their sites, ranging from half-day to multi-day events to include a social event/dinner and interviews.
  • One company was using Yahoo Groups to communicate with students.
  • AOL was the only company in attendance that was using blogs, MySpace and Facebook in their college recruiting efforts. I was a bit surprised that no one was even considering using these resources, nor taking advantage of other relevant technologies such as Podcasts.

Overall, not much has changed over the years. College recruiting efforts for most everyone in attendance will either remain steady, or grow. Competition is hot, maybe not as hot as the late '90s, but certainly hotter than earlier this decade. There was alot of energy in the room yesterday, alot of sharing, and alot of common issues and concerns. It's always been a great way to kick-off the college recruiting season, so everyone, on your mark, get set...

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