HR Insider Oct 28 2010

Bank of America's Karen Kirchner: Back to School

By kyle stock

How do you do campus recruiting?

Well, if you're Bank of America, you do it big -- with about 100 full-time recruiters, program managers and support staff canvassing 150 campuses for about 2,000 new or soon-to-be grads every year.

We caught up with Karen Kirchner, a senior vice president and staffing executive for campus recruiting, to talk about tuition reimbursement, sending top executives back to campus and Bank of America's recent push to universities abroad.

Related: Finding a Finance Job: Tips for College Grads

Kyle Stock: Can you provide some scale of the bank's full-time hiring from undergrad programs and MBA programs?

Karen Kirchner: For 2010, approximately 50% of the campus full-time hires were undergraduate and graduate hires (of that 50%, about 70% were undergraduate and 30% MBA) and the other 50% was intern hiring. We anticipate the same level for 2011 and that is consistent from past years. … We look at this as our future pipeline for leaders. And we really look at our relationship on campus as a year-round event.

KS: Has this changed in recent years?

KK: As we have grown as an organization through acquisition, our campus hiring numbers have grown proportionately and to the business need. In general, we hire more than 2,000 individuals whether full-time hires or interns through the formal campus recruiting program, but please understand [that our lines of business] also do some additional campus hiring throughout the year whether full-time or intern where needed -- that would be in addition to the formal campus recruiting/hiring efforts.

KS: Are you open to all majors?

KK: We want to see that accounting and the business (background), but we're looking for top talent across lots of different disciplines for lots of different roles.

KS: Companies like Deloitte have built huge campus recruiting programs, is it a tighter labor market for grads?

KK: I think it's just as competitive as it's ever been on campus. Everybody's out there trying to find the best students and that doesn't change at all.

KS: What sort of training do you give these hires?

KK: We have over 30 programs that the new-hires go into. Some of those are rotational programs from one to three years and others are really to go deep into a particular area.

KS: And the bank offers tuition reimbursement for people working full-time when in school?

KK: Up to $5,250 annually in tuition reimbursement for job-related courses.

KS: Can you provide some rough sense of how many BofA interns eventually take full-time jobs with the company?

KK: There are a variety of reasons that individual interns may not end up in a full-time position, anything from not being a good fit to personal reasons. What we can tell you is that of the interns we offer full-time positions to, an impressive 75% to 80% accept our offers.

KS: What's new with campus recruiting this year?

KK: Specifically, our intern population has doubled and our MBA area has gone up as well. But the biggest difference this year is just the breadth of our programs and the global reach of our programs. Our Asia team has really grown significantly and our hiring there has really increased.

KS: Can you provide some sense of scale?

KK: This is an area where we have a lot of growth and are actively and strategically looking for top talent. We have increased our partnerships with universities outside the U.S. by approximately 15%. This year, we have partnerships with 150 plus campuses globally, including 15 in Asia-Pacific and 62 in Europe and South Africa. In the US, we have relationships with 72 colleges for undergrad recruiting and 38 for MBA. Additionally, the bank touches approximately 350 more universities beyond the 150 via the internet.

KS: How big is your team?

KK: Just over 100 people, and that includes all of our program managers.

KS: Which of your senior executives are most active in campus-recruiting and at what schools?

KK: Leaders across our company regularly participate in our campus recruiting efforts, and many, including our most senior executives, visit campuses and speak at events. Two examples are David Darnell, a global commercial banking executive, who spoke at UNC Chapel Hill earlier this year and Jonathan Moulds, president of [Bank of America's] Europe [group] spoke at Cambridge University where we had 170 students attend. Other senior leaders are scheduled through the rest of this year and into next year.

KS: Do you match recruiters with their alma mater?

KK: Absolutely. There is an additional passion there.

KS: On the social networking front, what specifically has the company added or changed in the past 12 months?

KK: We launched our Twitter recruiting effort in April of 2010. Already we have the highest number of followers of any financial institution. ...I think moreso than we ever imagined, we're using social networking to reach out to candidates, [and] to tell our story.

KS: How did the crisis affect your recruiting?

KK: We anticipated in 2009 that our numbers would be lower and our attendance to various events would be lower, but we haven't seen that. There's still an interest in financial services, so we're not seeing any type of fallout from that.

Write to Kyle Stock

Related: Finding a Finance Job: Tips for College Grads

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