Careers Boss tells SA Senate Don't Panic

Career Service Director Matt Merrick (HBS ’96) made his first appearance before the SA Senate last Wednesday, telling the student representatives that HBS students’ job-search prospects remain relatively strong despite the national recession.

“We perceive [job listings] to be down, but we have not seen tangible evidence that we’re getting crushed,” Merrick said.
Merrick said the school’s strong reputation across the country has aided the career service department’s effort to attract new companies that have not traditionally recruited here.

“The HBS brand is fantastic, and we’re seeing very good vibes. People are honored and flattered to be asked to recruit here,” Merrick said.
However, it remains unclear how effectively HBS graduates and internship-seekers will be in translating that goodwill into job offers.
“A lot of them aren’t hiring,” Merrick acknowledged. “But some of them are. We’re not going to be able to come back right away and say, ‘Company X just agreed to hire 30 people.’ But we’ve had small successes … and over time, they’ll add up to big numbers.”
And Merrick said those recruiting efforts are also key to his long-term vision of the department’s role. Having moved from Chicago to take the Career Services job, Merrick said he can personally vouch for the fact that there is life-and good jobs-outside HBS students’ traditional destinations of New York, Boston, and San Francisco.

“I want to see us have a wider range of opportunities, and educate students to that fact. At some point, I’ll probably leave here, but I hope that will be my legacy,” he said.

Complicating efforts to assess the state of the job market is the fact that HBS and other top business schools have traditionally not asked students about their job status before graduation.

However, Merrick noted that according to that data, historically, only 13% of the first-year class has accepted internship offers in February. Thus, students who have not yet received or accepted offers should realize that they are not behind schedule.

In addition, to improve on the data, Merrick said the Career Services office is ready to release a poll to ask students about their job-search status – a development that has been discussed for several months. However, since the poll has never been conducted before, Merrick cautioned that the department would have to review the data collected before deciding how to share it with students.

In response to questions from first-year senators, Merrick stressed that the office is willing-and often able-to intervene and help students when employers violate HBS recruiting guidelines, either by imposing deadlines that differ from the official cutoff dates, or asking them to attend interviews during class time.

“We are committed to enforcing the guidelines when students bring it to our attention and want us to do something about it,” Merrick said.
Although Merrick said the number of complaints about recruiting violations are not up dramatically this year, he conceded that that might be because “students are just tolerating that.”

Still, he said Career Services has a “very good” record of success when it asks companies to obey the rules.