Review of Spring 2013 Undergraduate Career Fair

By: Jason Ioffe

On April 12th the Starr Career Development Center hosted its annual Spring Undergraduate Career Fair. Over 350 students donned business attire and brought freshly polished resumes to meet with over 30 recruiters in the Newman Vertical Campus’s gymnasium.

Senior students made up the largest turnout at the event – no doubt, taking advantage of the term’s last career fair to explore options for post-graduation. But surprisingly Baruch freshmen also made up almost a quarter of the fair’s attendees. Whether these freshmen aimed to learn the ropes of career development or wanted to hit the ground running with an internship, they were confident enough to stand toe with upperclassmen.

Freshman Jason Wu was very optimistic about meeting employers and standing out from the crowd. “As a freshman, I expected to be at a disadvantage, but it wasn’t really a problem at all,” he said.

Last February’s undergraduate internship fair may have had a larger turnout of nearly 600 students, but the attendance during April’s career fair ensured that all students had an equal chance to speak to recruiters over the course of four hours.

Safayet Kajol a sophomore at Baruch said, “The career fair is a wonderful opportunity for students to interact with recruiters and learn about opportunities that they can apply to for in the future.”

Representatives from American International Group (AIG) maintained a steady line of students throughout the event as they, for the first time in history, recruited for internal auditing directly on-campus at Baruch.

AIG Technology Audit Manager, Sumukh Shah, said he met with many sophomores and Computer Information System majors that day compared to the students he spoke with during last February’s internship fair. He and his colleagues also mentioned they were happy with how engaging and friendly the students were.

A similar sentiment was shared by Kim Wong, a recruiter from the CUNY IT Specialists Internship program. “We love Baruch students because they are very responsible and hard-working. We love working with the SCDC,” she said.

SCDC Introduces New Career Fair Resources

  • Earlier this year, the SCDC began using iPods to give students attending the day an easy and simple experience when sharing their feedback. Both the staff and Baruch students recognize the sleek, simple design of the iPods as not only an easy way of offering feedback but an attractive way of engaging students in commenting on the resources.
  • In addition to the iPod feedback forms, a new coat check system was introduced on April 12th thanks to efforts from the Peers for Careers and SCDC senior staff members. While coat checks came with a $1 fee from students, a portion of the proceeds were donated directly to Relay for Life, to help fund cancer research. Within just a few hours, this new system raised over $70 for the cause.
  • With introductions to new resources at the fair, the SCDC also continued to lend ties and suit jackets to students in need to help Baruch students make the best first impression.

Career fairs are powerful networking mediums available to Baruch students. The SCDC is committed to making the experience for students a valuable and productive one. If you missed this semester’s career fair, there will be a chance to attend other career fairs this fall. All it costs is the time spent putting the finishing touches on your resume and attending the fair polished and ready–a small price to pay for the potential opportunities to discover.
Jason is a sophomore at Baruch majoring in Computer Information Systems. He is currently a Peer for Career at the Starr Career Development Center and the Webmaster of Starrlights.


The key to mastering the behavorial interview

By: Paul Rosario, Peers for Careers/SCDC Correspondent
(As originally published in the Ticker:

When improving your behavioral interviewing skills, a counselor can help you understand what to include in your answers, but it is your own life experiences that truly shape those answers.

Your experience working in groups, collaborating with others and handling pressures help you develop soft skills. Assessing these skills is the purpose of behavioral questions, to see if you fit within the organization.

As a college student, it is likely you will encounter behavioral questions during an interview, since you are still developing as a professional. With minimal experience under your belt, companies will put less focus on technical questions which test your aptitude and knowledge.

Employers want to see how you act in certain situations, so they ask questions around those topics.  For example, if an employer wants to know you handle pressure, they might ask, “Can you tell me about a time where you were pressed for time and how did you handle it?”

Previous behavior predicts future behavior, so they want to assess your abilities and competence in certain situations. Fit is one of the most important components when interviewing for a position. The interviewer often wants to feel that you are easy to work with.

So, let’s suppose you’re faced with a behavioral question such as, “Can you tell me about a time where you had to deal with a difficult client or customer and describe your actions?” How would you phrase your answer?

There is a framework we recommend using to answer behavioral questions called the STAR method.  S is for Situation, T for Task, A for Action, and R for Results.

Regarding the situation, try to give your story context and present the problem.  For example, “When working as a retail sales associate, I encountered a customer who wanted to return an item.  They were really upset, but my manager stepped out for a break and I needed to handle it myself.”

For the task, simply describe what you had to do in the situation.  You may say, “I needed to ensure the customer received excellent service while trying to deescalate the situation and process the return accordingly.”

The action focuses on the specific actions you took.  You may say, “I apologized for the inconvenience we had caused and assured the customer that I would do everything to guarantee the next item met their expectations.

I retrieved a replacement, gave them a coupon for a percentage off of their next purchase and processed the exchange.”

Your results should describe what resulted from your actions.  You may conclude, “As a result, the customer was satisfied. I encouraged her to return in the future and she said she would be back soon.”

Attending a mock interview at the Starr Career Development Center is a great place to practice your interviewing skills and practice the STAR method. There are some issues we frequently encounter when interviewing students.

Students make something up rather than having an example. The point of an interview is to speak on the things you have already accomplished. If something appears unclear, there is a good chance that an interviewer will ask you for further explanation.

Students are being too honest. It is important to know your audience during an interview. An interview is a professional meeting in which you are expected to clearly and cohesively tell your story.

Do not reveal details about yourself that do not pertain to the conversation. Students give too much description of the situation and task.

The interviewee must provide a fairly concise backstory so the interviewer understands the example.

However, students often spend too much time on the background when they should describe their actions or the results of the situation.

While there is no way to predict the exact questions an interviewer might ask, there are many resources to help you prepare. Websites like, and feature lists of sample interview questions. There are even helpful videos on YouTube and an interviewing tool on

The Career Development Center offers workshops on mastering the interview, in which behavioral interviewing is discussed.

Choosing a major does not mean choosing a career

By Paulina Jankovic, Peers for Careers/SCDC Correspondent 
(As originally published in the Ticker:

In college, you are exposed to a whirlwind of new things every day. You discover interests that previously you never would have thought that you’d enjoy. After being exposed to so much, it might become difficult to narrow your focus and select a major.

Sometimes students enter college with a specific career path in mind, but for many, that initial instinct is susceptible to change. On average, a freshman that declares his or her major will end up changing it at least 3 to 5 times before graduating.

As you move up the ranks and become an upperclassman, you may feel your level of anxiety heightening from having to officially declare a major. Choosing a major might make you feel like you are holding the fate of your career in your hands.

However, picking a major will not dictate your future, nor will it prevent you from pursuing career options that are not perfectly aligned with the major you chose.

Though your major is important and may set the groundwork for your potential career path, it is your college experience and the skills you build and strengthen that truly prepare you for the work world.

If you think your major predetermines your career prospects, there are some prominent examples that prove otherwise. Ted Turner, founder of the first cable superstation consisting of CNN, Cartoon Network, and TNT, studied classics in college. Despite the arcane choice of major, he went onto be a notable entrepreneur.

Conan O’Brien majored in history and comparative literature before becoming a comical talk show host. Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and former secretary of the U.S. Treasury majored in English. Ken Jeong, the comedian of Hangover fame, went to medical school before launching a career in acting.

If you are unsure of your exact career path, there are many things that you can do. Try to develop transferrable skills that will be relevant in any job. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the most crucial skill an employer seeks is strong communication skills.

Following that, employers want you to possess interpersonal skills, teamwork ability, and integrity. Thus, to successfully launch your career you should strive to be a well-rounded student. Take advantage of internships and jobs, leadership activities, clubs, community service, and research opportunities.

Developing the work ethic required to excel in your classes is a transferrable and valuable skill.

Many students will need to commit to a major before committing to a career.  This means that there is have time to explore various careers. Focus 2, a career exploration application available to students through the STARR Career Development Center, helps you explore different careers and helps you choose a major.

O*Net, the national source for occupational information, allows you to explore jobs and their descriptions. Obtaining internships and setting up informational interviews can also provide you with direct exposure to positions, industries and fields.

If you wish to keep exploring and mastering a subject matter after you graduate from Baruch College, graduate school is always an option.

Beyond that, there are multiple specialized or technical careers, like engineering, accounting, or medical jobs, where you will face more stringent academic requirements.

These careers typically require that you take certain classes so you will be prepared for both the licensing requirements and the actual job responsibilities. If you are pursuing one of these careers, it is important to be forward thinking.

While it is always possible to make a career change, students can often feel anxiety around the idea of needing to catch up on academic requirements. To avoid this feeling, research these professions so that you thoroughly understand what coursework you need to be eligible for the roles you are targeting.

Choosing a major should definitely not be taken lightly. It is a crucial step in your college career and it helps establish the foundation of your knowledge. In addition, it is important to remember that a major does not dictate your career. Choosing a major is only one step in preparing yourself for the world of work.

What to do in accounting apart from the Big Four?

By Yahya Khan, Peers for Careers/SCDC Correspondent
(As originally published in the Ticker:

Baruch College is widely renowned for its accounting program and  one of the most popular majors for students. Many students desire to work at one of the Big Four accounting firms: Ernst and Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.

These positions are seen as a prestigious start to a career and an ideal training ground for a bright future. However, the Big Four are very selective and scores of well-qualified candidates are turned away due to a limited need for new employees.

Despite this reality, students should not be discouraged. A multitude of other opportunities are available for talented accounting majors. Apart from the Big Four, there are a large number of mid-sized firms that provide audit, tax, advisory and consultancy services to corporate clients. Prominent mid-sized firms include ParenteBeard, McGladrey, Crowe Horwath and Grant Thorton.

Although students may not recognize these brands as quickly as they would the Big Four, there are many similarities between the type of work a junior employee would encounter at a mid-sized firm and a Big Four firm.

In addition to the clients and the nature of the work being very similar, the compensation levels are comparable, especially in New York City.

One opportunity the mid-sized firms present is a greater sense of belonging for junior employees. Also, staff members are empowered to make a difference in a smaller firm. Many of these firms provide rotational experiences, so graduates who are unsure of what practice they want to focus on can gain broad exposure before specializing.

Occasionally, for top performers, promotions can come at a faster pace. Lastly, these mid-sized firms tend to place a greater emphasis on the balance between work and life, due to the fact that they are looking to hire someone long term.

Another career opportunity available to accounting majors is to join the internal audit department of a company.

After Sarbanes Oxley, most large companies, especially publicly traded ones, have focused a lot on their internal audit practices and on making sure that there are controls and procedures in place to correctly monitor business processes.

New York, being one of the financial capitals of the world, has an outsize proportion of large banks and financial institutions who recruit for internal audit at the undergraduate level and several at Baruch.

This path allows accounting students to immerse themselves in the way an institution operates, gaining in-depth knowledge of product and service lines, and an opportunity to build a career.

Outside of internal audit, there are many opportunities to work in a variety of corporate roles. The adage goes, “accounting is the language of business,” and as a result, many roles in business will benefit from an employee  who has a strong understanding of accounting. For example, many of the finance roles that report to a company’s Chief Financial Officer actually require a significant amount of accounting analysis. Consequently, working in the financial reporting and controlling group of a corporation is another career option.

In the tri-state area, there are many companies ranging from Colgate-Palmolive to Pfizer that need junior-level employees with accounting knowledge. Interestingly, most of these roles will not actually require someone to secure their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to be qualified to work.

Students should also consider opportunities with government agencies. Forensic accounting and litigation consulting are growing roles in which accounting skills are valued.

An accounting degree provides a student with a strong base in the field of business with the option to join a vast variety of professions. Accounting students have and been successful in professions that cover a wide spectrum; from financial analysts to leaders of non profit organizations.

Apart from that, many accounting majors go on to law schools, business schools or set up their own businesses and practices and generally have a stable and successful life.

The point is that while an entry level position at the Big Four represents a huge achievement by an accounting graduate, it is by no means the only path to success or even the best one.