The Campus Career Coach

Home » Posts tagged 'Getting Your Foot in the Door'

Tag Archives: Getting Your Foot in the Door

Getting Your Foot in the Door at Ernst & Young

EY Logo BlackAbout Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services, employing over 167,000 people in 140 countries around the world.  Ernst & Young recruits highly skilled professionals who embody its core values:

  • People who demonstrate integrity, respect and teaming.
  • People with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to lead.
  • People who build relationships based on doing the right thing.

Detailed information about career opportunities for students, experienced candidates and executives can be found on the Ernst & Young Career Page.

Dan BlackAbout Dan

Dan Black is the Americas Director of Campus Recruiting at Ernst & Young. He has been recruiting on college campuses for Ernst & Young LLP for more than 15 years. Dan began his career with Ernst & Young LLP in 1994 as an Auditor, and he has never looked back! A licensed CPA with direct experience serving clients, Dan is passionate about building the future of business by providing opportunities to the best and brightest young talent and leveraging their considerable skills.  Dan earned a master’s degree in human resources from Fordham University in 2002 and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Binghamton in 1994.  He currently services on the Board of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE); in July, he will begin his term as the 2013-14 NACE President. team spoke with Dan to learn more about Ernst & Young. Here are some insights he shared during his interview.

Tell me a little about your company

I like to say: “Ernst & Young is not your father’s accounting firm!”

Very often, big accounting and professional services firms like Ernst & Young are stereotyped as being old school, people wearing visors, punching away on calculators.

In reality, Ernst & Young does a lot more than that!  In addition to having a thriving Assurance practice and a leading Tax practice, we have dynamic Transactions and Advisory practices and consulting clients on matters such as Risk, Performance Improvement and IT, among others.  A lot of students don’t know that until Ernst & Young’s recruiters tell them

As a result, Ernst & Young recruits students from a variety of disciples in addition to Accounting, such as Finance, MIS, IT, Economics and Law, just to name a few. These are the qualifications and competencies our clients expect of us, so they are also the qualifications and competencies we look for in new hires.

So, no more green visors and arm garters?

Green-Visor-AccountantYou might still find a few old school professionals with visors and garters tucked away somewhere, but Ernst & Young is a 21st-century company.

What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on-campus to fill?

We hire from campus for opportunities in all of our client-serving practices: Assurance (Audit), Tax, Transactions, and Advisory Services.

The candidates we hire get the chance to explore a variety of opportunities within their practice.

How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?

Our industry is strictly regulated, so we need to be very specific in the majors we recruit.  Over 95% of our hires are Business majors, and the majority of those are in Accounting-related fields, with the balance in Finance, MIS, Business Law, Economics and other Business-related majors.

How do students interested in working in other areas of your company apply/express their interest?

All positions outside of our campus recruiting efforts — from support to management to executive positions — require more experience. To apply as an experienced hire, candidates should start with the online application process on our website.

The Careers section of the Ernst & Young website is a great resource.  It’s not a “black hole” for applications; every application that comes in via our website goes directly to the desktop of the recruiter linked to the requisition and tasked with finding candidates to fill the position.

You can also find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Most importantly — use your network!

Nearly half of our non-campus hires come from employee referrals, so if you have any kind of connection to someone who works for or has worked for Ernst & Young, see if they will refer you.  It doesn’t have to be someone you’ve known your whole life; it just has to be someone who knows enough about you to be willing to help you get your foot in the door.

Face time doesn’t hurt either.  If you can connect personally with someone in a local office, go ahead and do so; just don’t neglect the online application part of the process.

What do you look for in candidates?

Degree aside, we look for the following key competencies:

First, Academic success is key.  While academic performance (your GPA) is not an end all be all, your academic performance does show us how well you are doing your current “job” (being a student).

Communication skills are also critical.  The success of our entire business is based on our ability to communicate effectively with our clients and with each other, verbally and in writing.  We look for this from the get-go.  We even require writing samples from candidates for some of our positions; it’s that important!

Finally, Teamwork is essential.  Ernst & Young is known for being a very diverse and inclusive organization, so you must be able to work well with people with different skills, backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, sexual preferences, etc.  We evaluate candidates thoroughly for this competency.

How does Ernst & Young create a welcoming culture for a diverse workforce?

First, through customization — We give our people options in methodology (how they get their work done), technology (what tools they use to get their work done) and work style (when and where they get their work done).  When you can give people options in customizing their work life, you are creating a welcoming environment.  When you say, “This is the way we do things around here,” you are not.

Second, through affinity groups — It is easier to succeed in and assimilate into a new environment when you can work with people with whom you share something in common.  And, we don’t just mean gender and ethnicity. We consider educational background, geography, alma mater, etc.  We offer a wide variety of informal and formal affinity groups, which we call Professional Networks, so our people can join them to help make transitions during their time with us easier.  Some really great mentoring relationships develop out of these Professional Networks.

Third, through listening and adapting — We offer people a lot of ways to express their opinions and suggestions regarding how we can improve what we do and how we do it.  For example, we have a People Advisory Forum comprised of staff from all levels of the organization and chaired by our Americas Managing Partner Steve Howe, our highest-ranking leader.  These folks get the direct ear of Steve and can share what they hear from their perspective.  This open culture and willingness to listen help us adapt our practices to meet the needs of our clients and our employees.

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to work for your company?

Find something you are passionate about and be truly engaged in it—whether it is your community, your fraternity or sorority, your job, your internships, or something else. It’s not just about being involved, it’s about being deeply engaged and passionate about what you are doing, taking on a leadership role, and making a difference.

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?

Prepare for the change that is coming.  If you wait until you start working to begin that adjustment process, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.  How are you going to change your overall time management approach overnight?  You’re not!  Trust me, a “full schedule” takes on a whole new meaning once you hit the workforce.

Make connections.  Don’t wait until you get into the workforce to build and cultivate professional relationships.  Networking is a skill you need to nurture, so start early and build relationships.  It will pay off.

Don’t make any decisions about your first job in a vacuum.  Where should you live? What should you wear? What are your commute options? What should you read to stay aware of current world and industry events?  Take the guesswork out of it.  Ask recruiters and future peers for their advice on your workplace.  They will be happy to help and will recognize your initiative in asking for their help.

What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?

Talking too much —There IS such a thing as a comfortable silence.

Talking too little — Don’t make the recruiter pull teeth to learn about you.

Bad mouthing other organizations or people — Focus on your positives not someone else’s negatives.

Know the company — Show your interest and motivation to work for that company, not just any company.

What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?

Answering the “Why Ernst &Young?” question well — Particularly comparing us favorably to our direct competitors.

Staying positive — It’s easier said than done, I know, but don’t be nervous and stay positive.

Giving thorough but concise answers —Say enough to answer the question, and then stop talking.

Remember, be specific, be recent, and show what you accomplished and how you contributed.

Also, you should smile! Show you are happy to be there.  It’s okay to show some personality and emotion.

If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?

Life is a marathon, not a sprint!

Much of what you will do after you graduate will be nothing you would have predicted.  That’s okay.  Don’t be too specific about what you want too early on because you might miss out on something great.

Kick the tires on careers and companies.  Get past the happy talk and brochures and really find out for yourself whether or not a college, company or job is a good fit for you.

Get help.  Seek the advice of others, including parents, mentors and teachers. Make your own assessments, but don’t neglect the wisdom of others when making your decisions.

Getting your Foot in the Door with E & J Gallo Winery

Gallo LogoAbout the E. & J. Gallo Winery

With humble beginnings, E. & J. Gallo Winery was established in 1933 in Modesto, California, by brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo.  It has become the world’s largest winery and the foremost winery in the art of grape growing, winemaking, distribution and marketing of wines. Gallo remains family-owned, spanning four generations of the Gallo family actively working in the business, and employs more than 5,000 employees worldwide. With nine wineries strategically located in wine regions in both California and Washington and access to grapes from vineyards in all of the premier grape-growing areas of both states, Gallo produces wines in every category, to suit every taste.  Gallo imports wines from eight of the major wine growing countries in the world.

Cyndy BagleyAbout Cyndy

Cyndy Bagley is a Regional Manager of Training & Recruiting for E. & J. Gallo Winery. She is based in Austin and recruits on college campuses across the southwest. She is one of nine E. & J. Gallo campus recruiters.

Cyndy graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree Agricultural Economics. While she was in college, Cyndy worked on a vineyard and took classes in viticulture and enology. She has been certified by the Society of Wine Educators as a Certified Specialist of Wine.

Cyndy started her career as a distributor Sales Representative, was promoted to a Retail District Sales Manager then went to work directly for E&J Gallo Winery as a Field Marketing Manager Prior to her current position as Regional Manager of Training & Recruiting.

What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on-campus to fill?


Nationally, E. & J. Gallo Winery recruits on various college campuses to fill full-time entry-level sales positions for our accelerated Management Development Program (MDP). The MDP Program helps to bridge the gap between campus and career through extensive, on-the-job training across all aspects of sales.  Starting as a Sales Representative with our distributor partners, you’ll receive front-line experience expanding Gallo distribution in an established retail territory.  In the next phase, candidates move into a District Sales Manager role, where they assume a direct leadership role and balance responsibilities of developing others and achieving results.  Every MDP path is unique, and the final phase of the program may lead you toward a variety of positions.  Some common paths include retail or on-premise field marketing manager, customer development, direct to consumer, fine wine or spirits.

At our headquarters in Modesto, CA, we also recruit on-campus for entry-level positions in Engineering, Winemaking, Supply Chain, IT, Finance and Accounting, as well as a variety of other positions.

How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?

Gallo offers a number of opportunities for all types of candidates, and the E. &J. Gallo Winery MDP program accepts applications from all undergraduate majors.

What do you look for in candidates?

At Gallo, we look for candidates that have the ability to Envision opportunities, Enlist partners, Engage a team, and Execute with excellence.  We look for candidates with demonstrated experience in these areas, and we specifically focus on leadership experience for the MDP Program.

When it comes to Leadership, we look for demonstrated leadership on campus, at work or through your community. We look for students who really drive the student activities that take place on their campus, and there is a good reason for that: We believe that students who are real leaders on their campuses or in their communities have had experience managing people and projects, delegating responsibilities, and dealing with a variety of stressful situations successfully.  In addition, student leaders learn how to manage their time, and time management is important in our business.

How do these traits show up on a student’s resume?

As a college recruiter, I see nearly 2,000 resumes a semester, so it is extremely important that you highlight your major successes clearly, concisely, and accurately on your resume.  This is your chance to tell your personal story.  When possible, use specific and quantifiable examples to demonstrate your achievements.   Use your Campus Career Center as a resource to review your resume as well.

How can students not at your target campuses or those interested in working in other areas of your company apply/express their interest?

For current openings at E. & J. Gallo Winery, please visit the Careers section of the E. & J. Gallo Winery website to see what is available.  For specific on-campus recruiting questions, you may email

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?

I believe getting involved on campus, at work, or in your community is important to help you figure out how to manage your time and learn how to lead others.  You may go through an adjustment period after college, managing demands from work and personal life (and not getting a Spring Break!)  The transition may be easier if you are already accustomed to managing multiple priorities, and staying focused on the task at hand.

What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?

Not doing their homework.  It’s important to research a company prior to interviewing, to understand if this is a company that is right for you.  Review the company website, recent articles, and materials that may be at your Campus Career Center.

Not being able to talk about topics on and off your resume.   Be prepared with a variety of examples to highlight your own accomplishments and strengths, as well as your opportunities.    We realize that you can’t put everything on your resume; we don’t want you to. That being said, we are interested in learning about the whole you and not just the information on your resume.  This is your chance to tell your story.

Not asking questions.  Always be ready to ask questions. Your questions will help you learn more about the company, and also demonstrate your interest in the company and the opportunities we offer.  Be specific with your questions; ask about business trends, opportunities for the future, growth, and direction of the company. This is your time to interview us, use it wisely.

What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?

Students who smile, are energetic, and are eager to tell their story – After all, I am recruiting for sales! Be excited about who you are and what you offer.  Even if you’re nervous, be confident and genuine.

Be professional –Show up on time (or early), look professional, have a firm hand shake and maintain good eye contact.

 If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?

Start early! And by that, I mean start thinking about a career when you are deciding what university to attend.

When you visit college campuses, stop by the career center, meet the career center staff and ask questions. Ask them who recruits on their campus. Ask them about the type and level of career assistance they provide to students with your interests. Make sure the college you go to offers courses, activities and career support that match your interests and skills.

While you are in school – get involved and try new things. College is the one time in your life when you can really explore your interests and discover who you are and what you like to do. Don’t miss out on that opportunity. If you find something you like, stick with it! Try to gain experience through leadership and make an impact.

And, lastly, when leadership opportunities are presented, volunteer to take them on.


How do I pursue a career in sales when my degree is in political science?

Jake at Texas Tech University asked:

I recently graduated with a Political Science degree with a minor in English. My original intention was to go to law school, but I no longer want to do that. I have gotten some experience in sales and  have decided to pursue a career in sales. Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult getting my foot in the door. I believe I am a leader, I am personable, and I am an extremely hard worker.  I believe I have great salesmanship qualities. Despite all of this, I think companies are taking a look at my resume and moving to the next one because of my limited experience and my degree. My question is: How do I sell my qualities beyond an application and resume? How do I pursue a career in sales and management with a degree these types of companies are not interested in?

Hi Jake –

Before I start, I want to call your attention to three related questions that have come in (along with my responses to them):

How do I improve the appearance of my resume?

How do I write a resume when my skill set is diverse?

Should my resume have an objective statement?

Now, let’s get to your specific question.

You want to work in sales.  Great – your sales job starts now. You have to sell yourself to employers. You have to convince employers that you are worth their investment.  You have prospect the clients, market your services, communicate your value proposition, and close the sale.

The parallels between selling a product or service and looking for a job are many.

In both instances, you need to know your product, you know your target market, and you must position your product in ways that are meaningful to your prospective buyer.

In your question to me, you stated that you are a leader, you are personable, you work hard, and you have great salesmanship skills.  These are all things recruiters want in candidates for sales positions.  To be honest, unless a specific technical expertise is required, most recruiters for sales opportunities don’t care what your major was; they care whether or you can and want to do the job.

Here is my question to you:  To what extent does your resume current illustrate your sales skills, qualities and characteristics to prospective employers?

If your resume simply presents you as a recent political sciences grad with limited experience, you are missing a great opportunity.  Your not giving them any reasons to be interested in you.

You see, employers will not know what you offer unless you make it very clear to them, and they won’t find it relevant or interesting unless it sound like it will meet their needs.

If you present yourself as a recent political sciences grad with limited experience; employers will believe you and move on to the next candidate.

You are in sales right now!  Show you are a good sales person by effectively marketing yourself as a job candidate to prospective employers.

My resume handout provides a lot of good advice, and our resume gallery has a lot of good examples.  I encourage you to check them out.

Also, seek out the advice and assistance of your campus career services offices.  They are good people and they want to help!

Good luck!

Getting Your Foot in the Door at the Young & Rubicam Group

About the Young & Rubicam Group

Young & Rubicam Group is a strategic partnership of more than 20 marketing and communication companies, dynamically organized to meet their clients’ growing and evolving needs and operating in all the major countries around the world.  The Group’s areas of expertise include advertising, digital, media, public relations, research, health communications, social media, grassroots marketing and direct marketing.

Young & Rubicam Group is a member of WPP, the world’s leading communications services group.

About Celia Berk

As the Chief Talent Officer for Young and Rubicam Group, Celia Berk works with the leadership of all of Group companies to promote collaboration in attracting, developing and retaining the best talent across the Group’s global network.

 What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on college campuses to fill?

Celia: When we recruit on college campuses, we are typically looking to identify entry-level candidates across our  marketing and communication disciplines.  Our Y&R Group Career Path Guide provides a really good summary of the depth and breadth of opportunities available across our network of companies.

How do you target campuses? 

Celia: First, we look at where our best people went to school and recruit there. We also look at the diversity of the student body; we’re a global company with diverse clients, so having a diverse workforce is very important to us.

School standing in our various disciplines is also a factor.  We look to schools with exceptional programs in advertising, digital, public relations, research, media, and communications. 

Personally, I am most interested in schools that provide their students a broad grounding in the world – not just in their major.

If you’re not at one of our target schools, don’t let that stop you from pursuing us!  Research us online, review the career sections of our websites, contact the company or companies that interest you most.

How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?

Celia: At the entry level, people can come from any kind of background – from any major or school – and start a really interesting career in one of our companies.   But whether you majored in humanities, history, sociology, business, engineering, medicine, psychology, or communication, you need an affinity for the kinds of work we do.

How do students interested in working in other areas of your company apply/express their interest?

Celia: Candidates for jobs outside our core marketing and communications business (like HR, Finance, IT) are typically sourced at the local level by recruiters at the individual companies.  We post opportunities on our individual company websites, use local and industry-specific job boards, and network with colleagues through professional associations. Each company does its own unique recruiting to meet these needs. 

What do you look for in candidates?

Celia: Personally, I look for intellectual curiosity, strong written and verbal communication skills, a sense of the larger world, and a genuine interest in the kinds of work we do.  I am always interested in talking to candidates who understand what we do and see it as a really interesting way to have a varied and challenging career.

We all do courtesy interviews, and we can tell immediately when someone doesn’t know or care what we are about. I  want people who really get it; who are instantly intrigued by what we do!  THAT person has my attention!

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to work for your company?

Celia: Our business is about communicating with stakeholders in the broadest sense, so we look for people who enjoy that kind of work. Some kind of work experience is very important.  Internships are great, but not everyone can do an internship in advertising or marketing.  I’ve spoken with lots of impressive entry-level candidates who have led big initiatives on campus or in the community, or had other types of solid work experience that show a strong work ethic and an understanding of what it means to be a professional. 

 Show that you know how to work hard and work smart.  Show you’ve been a member of a team that would want to have you back (even if you’re not particularly interested in going back!) And once you have gotten a  job, show that you can meet  the needs of that job and are someone who adds value.

What about participation in a study abroad program?

Celia:  That can be very beneficial.   You won’t be penalized if you don’t have it, but it is a great way to  show flexibility, adaptability to new cultures, and resourcefulness – an understanding that the whole world is not like the one you currently live in. Study abroad gives you a broader vantage point.  Honestly, it’s hard to be in different work cultures – if you can decode the culture of a foreign country, you can probably decode our company’s!

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?

Celia: Be active, be involved, be  part of a variety of communities. Show some get-up-and-go. Show that you can make things happen for yourself.

What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?

Celia:  I am shocked by how few students actually do their homework before an interview.

For example, asking me: How long have you been with the company?”  All they have to do is go to LinkedIn to see how long I have been with the company and learn quite a lot about me, my career and my accomplishments.

I know immediately when someone hasn’t read my profile because there are some interesting conversation starters in there they can use.

Another pet peeve is asking questions they can easily answer for themselves, like “What kind of jobs do you have?” They can usually get this information off the company website.

My general advice: 

  • Dress appropriately (when in doubt, dress less casually; and you can always ask what the dress code is)
  • Be on time (but not ridiculously early)
  • Bring copies of your resume
  • Write a thank you note

And, if you follow up with me a few months later, help me remember you. Provide some context in your email:  Thank you for the time you spent with me a few months ago.  As you may recall, I had just graduated from . . .  and was looking for . . .  and you put me in touch with  . . . .   I was wondering if you might have some advice about . . .

Remember, it’s not all about you. Your communication (letters, emails, resume, etc.) should present a balance between what you want and what you offer.

What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?

I am always impressed by students who have done their homework, have a good resume, and ask good questions.  You can get a real measure of a person by how smart their questions are.

If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?

Starting your career in a marketing and communications company gives you tools that no one will ever be able to take away from you: How to create and manage perceptions, how to deal with stakeholders, how business works,  and how to develop your own personal communication skills.  You will use these skills throughout your career.

From day one in your career, build your network and never lose track of it.  With LinkedIn, there is no excuse! 

Note, I said LinkedIn, not Facebook.  I am not your friend; I am a prospective colleague, so don’t “friend” me on Facebook.  Also, don’t request to connect with me on LinkedIn without a specific message and purpose in your request – make sure I can tell why you are asking to link to me.

Want to learn more about career opportunities with Young & Rubicam Group companies? 

Go to the Young & Rubicam Group Careers Page.  And, take Celia’s advice:

 Do your homework, have a good resume, and ask good questions.