UCSB students leverage experience into employment thanks to the Career Connection program.
When the summer of 2012 approached, Dylan Fahy ’14 decided it was time to search for an internship. He was a sophomore headed into his junior year, and he had declared a major in economics.
"An internship was out of pure necessity," Fahy reflected. "I knew I was going to need some work experience."
Experience came in many forms that summer, first through a job for a hedge fund in Santa Monica. That firm turned out to be a Ponzi scheme (an altogether disappointing first impression). Next came an assistant job for a public relations firm that involved 50 hours of unpaid and underappreciated work.
It was the summer of rude awakening for Dylan, and ultimately what prompted him to change his approach. Rather than go it alone, he mused, why not partner with his university to find an internship? Who comes to campus? Who hires from UC Santa Barbara?
Enter Career Connection, an initiative led by UCSB’s Department of Economics. The program assists students through a number of practical, professionally-oriented activities designed to boost workforce experience. It’s what helped Dylan land an internship with Deloitte the following summer, and what led to his full-time employment thereafter.
"If you don’t have someone vetting employers, you’ll end up in a situation like mine," advised Fahy. "I got the job because I had experience. A little bit goes a long way."
Since its inception in 2010, Career Connection has grown into an impressive program. It’s one of the strongest campus networks that connects students to industry, with roughly half of its accounting seniors securing jobs with “The Big Four” (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and KPMG).
"We really came at this from the student perspective," remarked economics chair and professor Kelly Bedard. "Going from school to industry is a big transition in people’s life. Students gain experience not only in math, statistics, and problem-solving, but also in how to conduct themselves in a business environment."
"What I’ve noticed about UCSB students," observed recruiting manager Scott Flanary, "is that they are able to toe the line appropriately between building rapport and coming across professionally." Flanary, who’s spent over four years with Moss Adams LLP, added: "If [students] use Career Connection, they are better suited for the recruiting process."
Career Connection has done a superb job of branding itself over the years---from mock interviews to wardrobe advice, the program dips into virtually every aspect of the college-to-industry transition. According to department manager Joan Giovannone, Career Connection presents "a broader picture of all the kinds of opportunities that are out there [for students]."
"I remember when I graduated, there was simply nothing like Career Connection," recalls alumnus Keith Lupton ’91. Lupton, a partner and recruiter for Ernst & Young, is also a loyal donor to the program: "I really wanted to help students," he shared. "All of us who support [Career Connection] really recognized the gap and the need to fill that gap."
Lupton is joined by several philanthropists who believe in the program’s importance and are invested in its continual growth. In fact, what began from humble university funding has now matured into a model for industry-to-campus interplay.
"We’re very fortunate that we have alums who just want to give back," reflected Giovannone.
Added Fahy, who’s approaching his fourth year with Deloitte: "Time spent doing alumni outreach is definitely worthwhile."