University of South Carolina

Moore School career prep opens doors

By Peggy Binette,, 803-777-7704

“Make a plan. Work the plan.”

This simple mantra has guided Georgia Holmes Doran since she was a child. Whenever she found herself in a difficult situation, her father, Dr. George R. Holmes, professor emeritus of the USC School of Medicine, would reassure her that she was smart and capable enough to handle it and that all she needed to do was to “make a plan and work the plan.”

As the director of career management at the Darla Moore School of Business, Doran, 48, is helping more than 2,500 business students develop and carry out their own personal branding plans.

“You’re marketing yourself for the job market and internships,” Doran tells students.

When Doran arrived at the University of South Carolina in 2001, the Moore School’s career services only worked with graduate students. As the school continued to grow in academic stature -- extending its national reputation beyond international business to include areas of emphasis in risk management and insurance, finance, global supply chain management and accounting – it expanded its career services to juniors and seniors, complementing services available to all USC students through the university’s Career Center.

“We’ve gone from working with 400 graduate students to working with more than 2,500,” Doran said. “Students are our product. We want to offer them career and professional development to match the same level of the Moore School’s high academic standards.”

Doran said that students who work the hardest are the ones who will be offered the best jobs.

“Despite the economy, the jobs are there. It takes longer, but perseverance will always pay off,” she said.

   Making a plan

To help prepare students, Doran, along with career services’ Trish Jones and former director Jane Willis, wrote a textbook and designed a course titled “Business Careers in a Global Economy” for Moore School juniors. Initially taught as an elective, the eight-week course became a requirement in fall 2011. Students apply what they learn in the course to various recruitment situations such as information sessions and the Business Expo.

“Our students have told us they want more interaction with Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. They expect it from a world class business school. Fall recruitment is a very short window. It’s our job to make sure they are ready,” Doran said.

The course is intensive. Each student develops a resume that must meet Moore School standards for final approval. They learn how to conduct job searches, explore online resources, manage their digital footprint, dress professionally, practice business etiquette skills, develop a personalized “elevator pitch” and sharpen their communication skills. They take career assessments to focus their career goals, and nearly every Friday more than 100 students each receive an in-person mock interview conducted by a professional in the business community as well as personal feedback at the end of the interview. 

Doran said career preparation is tailored to the Moore School experience and brand.

Since the course became a requirement, she said the number and the nature of student visits to her office have changed.

“We’re not seeing as many visits because students are so prepared through the class and other services we offer. Now our consultations with students are about how to negotiate a job offer or how to find a mentor. Students are looking for deeper, more meaningful advice, and that’s exactly what we want,” Doran said.

She said only a few business schools in the country offer a course similar to that of the Moore School.

   Working the plan

Moore School students have more opportunities than ever to network and interview with major corporations. The Business Expo, the school’s signature recruitment event held Sept. 27, had a record number of Fortune 500 companies participate. This year two-thirds of the 90 companies were Fortune 500. Newcomers included Gulfstream, Southwest Airlines, Home Depot and Sun Trust.

The school also is applying its knack for innovation to the employer side of career services.

It’s a standard practice for corporate recruiters to visit college campuses and interview students. The Moore School is going beyond that by working with top echelon companies to create day-long or week-long events for students to learn about that company and for the company to learn about the Moore School curriculum as well as network with students and faculty and identify students to interview.

“Companies are finding they need to work harder and smarter at developing brand awareness with college students,” Doran said. “In the next five to 10 years, baby boomers will be moving out and taking their knowledge with them. Companies know they need to transfer that knowledge to the next generation in order to provide continuity. They realize they must plan ahead and be strategic in their planning for future leadership.”

The Moore School corporate days, a novel concept among business schools, are giving companies a chance to do that planning. While each one is structured differently based on the needs of the company, all of them are big splash events that transform the Moore School with the look and feel of an Eaton, Shell, Ingersoll Rand, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Bosch or Coca Cola.

“It’s a win-win all around,” Doran said. “Darla Moore School of Business students are showcased and become aware of the multitude of opportunities in a variety of companies, and the companies secure great talent.”

The Moore School recently was designated as one of Coca-Cola’s core schools for recruiting. However, the Sept. 11 corporate day was a first for the company of the world's best known brand. Impressed by the event and particularly by the high talent level of the school’s global supply chain management students, Coca Cola recruiters have asked that additional interview sessions be scheduled.

Doran said students can expect to see the Moore School hosting more corporate days with Fortune 500 companies in the future, giving students more opportunities to work their plans.

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Posted: 10/08/12 @ 2:00 PM | Updated: 10/26/12 @ 11:44 AM | Permalink