HSE University Hosted a Career Marathon
On November 17th and 19th, HSE students and graduates, along with students from other universities, learned how to get a job in their dream company, which skills are highly valued by employers today, and how COVID-19 has changed the employment market. All these secrets were revealed as part of the HSE Career Marathon by representatives of such big companies as Procter & Gamble, SBER, BAT Russia, Deloitte, Coca-Cola HBC, VTB, Unilever, Alfa Bank, UNIQLO, MegaFon and others.
From personal stories and interviews, to the secrets of employment in top companies, to rapid-fire interviews, to TED talks: the Career Marathon proved to be useful and full of fascinating insights. During the two days, students and graduates from HSE and other universities talked to representatives from the biggest organizations in various fields. HSE Career Marathon participants had an opportunity to ask their questions to experts and apply for jobs using HSE APP.
Arina Egorova, Director of the HSE Career Centre
The HSE Career Marathon is a new form of the traditional career fair. We have long believed that these classical fairs are ineffective. To be perfectly honest, many participants come to career fairs simply to grab some merchandise rather than to find a job. This year, the COVID pandemic boosted our ability to organize the fair in a new online format. Participants can watch live broadcasts on YouTube or in VK (or even listen to a podcast), ask their questions directly to company representatives, and at the same time, apply for jobs using HSE App. The updated version of the app has a separate career section.
Over 3,000 guests and 16 companies took part in HSE Career Marathon. In addition to students from the Moscow campus, there were people from HSE campuses in Perm, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as from other universities in Moscow (MSU, RFTA, Financial University) and other Russian regions including Samara and Yekaterinburg. Some students from the regions have won prizes from the Career Development Centre, and we are going to be mailing them out during the next week.
The Career Development Centre is undergoing a lot of positive changes at the moment. We are launching a lot of exciting projects: from a Telegram channel and Instagram, to career maps, to online career guidance course on YouTube, and podcasts with employers.
About Skills and Stages of Selection
Anastasia Stepanova, expert at Sberbank Centre of Academic Partnerships, told the audience what SBER is like in 2020, and how to start a career in the company. Anastasia said that all internship candidates need to go through three stages of selection: completing a motivation questionnaire (similar to a CV), a phone interview, and an interview with a supervisor. Due to the pandemic, all these stages are being held online, and the expert said that most interns are also working from home.
This is how Anastasia described the qualities SBER is looking for in its interns: ‘We are definitely looking for hard skills in our candidates: when it comes to internship selection, they need to have certain achievements, educational background, and so on. But probably the most important skill this year is data analysis. Experience of working in a bank shows that in any position, be it economist, lawyer or anyone else, you have to analyse data and be a kind of data scientist. Then we pay attention to the soft skills of our potential interns. We would like our candidates to have systems thinking, the ability to learn fast, and to bring their ideas to implementation. The motivation to develop certain skills is also important: we are looking for people who know for sure that they want to develop in a certain area’.
Those who seek an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an international network of companies offering consulting and audit services will also need hard skills as well. According to Polina Gavrilina and Maria Nadzharyan, Employer Branding Specialists at PwC, a knowledge of accounting is necessary to work in audit, and the ability to solve cases is essential for consulting. As for soft skills, PwC values the ability and willingness to work in a team and to learn. However, the company has no requirements in terms of specific education: ‘We understand that candidates who come to consulting with a relevant degree (economics or analytics) will find it easier to start working. But we have people who came with different degrees, such as in marketing: they have experience of solving problems, they know Excel, they learn quickly and perform well. That’s why we don’t have any definite requirements concerning the degree specialization: everything depends on the specific candidate and their skills’.
Olga Vasilieva, head of development at Unilever, shared some information about the company’s internships and leadership programme. Students learned that it’s possible to apply for an internship at the company via a VK group Unilever Careers. To start, write ‘internship’ in the message.
‘Then, a bot will lead you through all stages of the selection’, Olga said, ‘You choose a project (because at Unilever, you don’t work in a department – you work on a project), pass a test, after which you get a link to a video interview recording. They are watched by a manager, and they may reject someone at this stage. However, if they see that a candidate is good, but not suitable for this specific project, they can recommend the candidate for other projects, with the applicant’s permission’.
Olga emphasised that an internship at Unilever includes quite serious tasks, so the candidates are selected carefully. Particular attention is paid to the candidates’ analytical thinking, their ability to solve problems, and level of motivation.
About Myths, COVID-19, and Work with HSE University
Yulia Sidina, Senior Brand Manager ARIEL EE (Procter & Gamble) gave a rapid-fire interview, in which she not only spoke about candidate selection and the company’s values, but also said that P&G and HSE are bound together by a long business relationship.
We have been closely cooperating with HSE University for a long time: it is a key source of young talent for the P&G offices in Russia. About 30% of all interns hired over the last year have been HSE students and graduates; I myself graduated from HSE in St. Petersburg in 2016, after which I moved to Moscow to work for Procter & Gamble
Alfa Bank representatives busted some myths in their presentations. For example, Elizaveta Rubtsova, leading recruitment expert, reassured the students that the bank doesn’t only need economists and financial officers: ‘We are a huge organisation, and we have an emphasis on IT experts, marketing, advertising and everything related to product teams. Every product that you use in a bank has a team and department responsible for it: be it a mobile app, products, offices, advertising etc. We are very universal in our staff search, and I can’t name a type of specialist we are not looking for’.
Anna Lyubkina, intern at the recruitment department of Alfa Bank, said that interns at Alfa Bank are treated the same as full time staff: ‘My workload is a bit lighter than that of my colleagues, but I also work on real tasks, with real customers and businesses. As a real employee, I have access to all processes performed by our department; my colleagues are very open and eager to share their experience; they involve me in any tasks I want’.
The TED talk ‘How COVID-19 has changed the job market for students and recent graduates?’ was also very useful and informative for the marathon guests. Ani Arevikyan, partnership manager at VCV, a digital recruitment platform, outlined several features of today’s recruitment market. The first feature, according to Ani Arevikyan, is that companies now have departments that recruit candidates solely from target universities.
‘You at HSE are lucky; you come from a beautiful university; you are on the list of universities that are interesting for employers today, and accordingly, your chances of being hired are much higher. The second feature is that the selection stages have become more complicated’, Ani Arevikyan said, ‘Many big companies have special stages, which last longer, since they want to see how your soft skills correspond with the employer’s needs. Also, if we talk about COVID-19, you should understand that when there is a crisis in the country, in the world, in the company, the employer does two things: cuts staff (or puts recruitment on hold) and stops teaching. This is the rule’.
She also recommended that students and graduates don’t limit themselves to vacancy websites, but to use special Telegram channels, to contact recruiters and their dream companies’ HR departments directly, as well as paying attention at HR agencies with a good reputation.
Employers will be looking to test your ability to learn, your skills and competencies, general reasonability, leadership qualities, and attitude towards conflict by using questions about situations. I recommend using the STAR system for your answer: speak about the situation (S), about what was to be done to resolve it (task – T), about the action (A) that you took, and about the result (R). This helps you put across your answer in a structured way, making it very clear
The recent HSE Career Marathon programme, as well as links to the two days of broadcast, are available on the official website (in Russian).
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