Podcast

Partnering with Admissions in a Graduate Business School

Toni Rhorer talks about how career services can partner with admissions in a graduate business school environment.

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Toni Rhorer, Executive Director of the Career Management Center for the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego, talks about how career services can partner with admissions in a graduate business school environment.

Toni has worked and led in career services for over 15 years, with the majority of those being in graduate business schools at Duke, Arizona State, and now UC San Diego. She’s spent years building partnerships between career services and admissions teams and conducting research on what employers are looking for and what competencies will make graduate business students most successful in the workforce.

In this episode, Toni shares why it’s so important for career services and admissions to work together, how she’s embedded her team in the admissions process, and what interview questions she asks potential students. 

Resources from the episode:

Transcript

Meredith Metsker:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Career Everywhere podcast. I’m your host Meredith Metsker, and today I’m joined by Toni Rhorer. She’s the executive director of the Career Management Center for the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego. Thank you for being here, Toni.

Toni Rhorer:

Thank you for having me, Meredith. I’m very excited to chat with you today.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, likewise. I’m really glad to have you, and I’m excited to talk with you today about how career services can partner with admissions within a graduate business school. So for those of you listening, Toni has worked and led in-career services for over 15 years, with the majority of those being in graduate business schools at Duke, Arizona State, and now UC San Diego.

So long story short, Toni has a ton of experience partnering with admissions in a graduate business school setting, and I couldn’t be more excited to have her on the pod today. So before I get into my questions, Toni, is there anything else you would like to add about yourself, your background, or your role in the Rady School of Management?

Toni Rhorer:

Sure. I think, as you said, I’ve been in higher ed career services for a long time, and I have had the opportunity to work with undergraduate students as well as graduate business students in several different types of institutions. I think today, when we talk about my experience with admissions, I’d like to say it’s largely at a graduate business school and specifically with a full-time MBA program. So that’s mostly what I’ll be kind of speaking to today.

Meredith Metsker:

Cool. Well, thank you for that additional context. As we’ll get into later, there’s a lot of different nuances to working in a graduate business school, especially with an MBA program, so I’m excited to dig into that. But before I get into the more specific questions, I want to kick us off by asking you a question I ask everyone on this podcast, which is, what does Career Everywhere mean to you?

Toni Rhorer:

Sure. I love just the term Career Everywhere because I feel like it says everything we need to know, right. And I think what’s really great about it is career development for any student, undergrad, graduate student, doesn’t happen in isolation of everything else they’re experiencing in their academic program or in their social interactions, right.

Everything that you learn, all the capabilities that students develop to manage their careers are happening everywhere they’re at. And so, really, I think the idea of embedding career in their experience is that you help them connect the dots so that they can see how all of the things they’re learning throughout the process are going to help them manage their career for life.

So I love the idea of being able to really kind of help people see where the pieces of career are showing up in the experience. And then I think maybe there’s another term, which is Career Anywhere, which I also love the idea of students being able to access career information and content anytime, all the time. So it can’t be everywhere if it’s not also anywhere. So I think maybe those two things go hand in hand as well.

Meredith Metsker:

Well said. Yeah, I think that makes a ton of sense. And as we all know, students don’t always just conveniently have questions during business hours.

Toni Rhorer:

Exactly.

Meredith Metsker:

Has to be anywhere and everywhere.

Toni Rhorer:

There we are.

Meredith Metsker:

All right. So let’s go ahead and dig into our topic, which is again that talking about partnering with admissions within a graduate business school setting. So first, for any listeners who aren’t familiar with the inner workings or those nuances of a graduate business program, why is it so important for career services and admissions to work together, and how is that maybe a little different than an undergrad program?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, that’s a great question, and I think it helps to start with how it’s different than undergrad. And if we think about a traditional undergraduate student coming out of high school at 18 years old, going to a college for the first time, being there for four years, the goal clearly when they graduate, they want to be successful and get a great job and have a career. But those four years are a lot more about development of the person, meeting new people, learning how to work with diverse individuals, like learning about themselves. There’s so much more development, personally, that’s happening at the undergrad level.

And small institutions aside, a lot of large public universities are just thousands and thousands of students, right. They’re big. And so that’s a whole other topic of engagement with so many students. But when we look at graduate business schools, it’s a completely different type of student, right. This is someone who already has an undergrad degree. A lot of them have other master’s degrees, PhDs, medical degrees. They’ve been out in the workforce already. If we’re looking at Rady specifically in our full-time MBA program, it’s an average of five to six years of work experience, an average age of maybe 27, 28.

So it’s a different type of student that’s coming into the program. And then, if you look at the size of the program, it’s a lot smaller. So for our full-time MBA program, it’s max 50 students in a class. And so the difference is when admissions is looking at bringing in 50 students. That’s a very tight-knit cohort, and you’re really… On the admission side, they’re in charge of building this program. And these students, in a full-time program, they’re there for two years. They go to school all day long with the same students, right. They’re in teams with the same people. They’re working on case studies. They’re doing capstone projects. And so, in the admissions process, they’re really responsible for building that team. And so it’s a bit of a different kind of goal.

And then, if you think about students who are applying to a graduate business program, one of the key things that they’re looking at are the outcomes. So students are comparing MBA programs, graduate business degrees across the board. They’re looking at rankings. They’re looking, of course, at curriculum and faculty and research, but they’re also really focused on the career outcomes, right. So graduate business degree is a professional degree and students come to these programs to enhance their career. And so that is the main goal. Yes, they’re going to get a degree, and they’re going to learn new things. And yes, they’re going to meet new people and build a really great network. But ultimately, they’re coming to enhance their career whether they want a promotion, if they want more salary, if they want to do a pivot and move into a new industry or function.

And so I think the difference on the admission side is kind of knowing that who you bring in are the students that the career center needs to work with on maintaining those outcomes. And it’s a cycle because the students you bring in are the ones who need to be successful in the career, which drives prospective students back to applications, right. And so it’s just this cycle that goes through. And I think the other difference on the graduate business school side is the expectation from students that they are going to get a very individualized and targeted experience from admissions, from their advisor and their program, and from the career center as well.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. And then you mentioned, briefly, the rankings thing. So that admitted class, doesn’t that play into rankings a little bit, along with career outcomes.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. So something to really think about is the admissions team. They have their goals and career [inaudible 00:08:43] we have our goals. And on the career side, goals are aligned with outcomes and job acceptances and salaries and those things. And that’s a big part of the ranking, depending on which ranking body you’re talking about. If we’re talking about U.S. News, over 30% of the score.

But the admissions team has their own metrics as well in building a class profile, average GMAT, GRE, years of work experience, percentage of females. So those two things have to work well together because everyone has their own metrics and measures of success that go into those pieces.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Okay. So just to kind of summarize. It seems like admissions and career services, they have to partner together because the makeup of that admitted class really plays into prospective students being interested in joining that program.

But also rankings, which, as you said, just kind of the cycle of playing into the success of the current class and then bringing in future classes that will also see success. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense and is very clear why those two groups have to work so closely together.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. I think in terms of thinking about that partnership, I think if you don’t work well together or you’re not communicating around the goals for overall, the admissions team… What makes a good profile might not necessarily make the most competitive applicants in the job pool. And so I think the benefit of partnering is that the career team, we are out in the market.

We’re talking with employers. We’re meeting with hiring managers. We’re talking to alums and their experience, and we’re able to really kind of bring that perspective back to the admissions team to say, “Yes, here’s maybe a profile that’s going to make someone really successful in the academic program. But here’s what the market’s looking for, and how can we make sure those two things are aligned.”

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Because yeah, maybe a student who looks great on paper may not necessarily have some of those same characteristics that will make them successful in the workforce.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

So yeah, that makes sense. So kind of digging into that partnership between admissions and career services, in your experience, what does a good partnership look like?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. I think probably with anything, and probably other people you’re talking to about embedding career somewhere on campus, is having support and buy-in from the leadership in understanding the fact that both of those things are important to building the right profile of the class. So I’ve been very lucky at Rady to have really good leadership support on that side. And then I do think for the admissions team and the career team, as I mentioned, we each may have our own sort of metrics for measuring success, but we also need to come together to make sure we all have the same shared goals for the program.

Again, those things don’t happen in isolation. It’s not like, “Okay, here’s your admissions profile, and here’s your career outcome.” The two things need to work together. And I think it helps a lot having the director of the career center and the director of admissions be on the same page, having good conversation around the goals and what we’re trying to accomplish. And I think it is really helpful for us to understand where the levers are being pulled.

I need to understand that admissions has certain things they have to meet, right. It can’t just be me saying, “No, that person’s not going to be successful in the job search.” I need to understand what they’re trying to build as well, and then vice versa. So I think that only comes with having more communication and conversations and not making assumptions that people know sort of what your work looks like or assuming what their work looks like.

Meredith Metsker:

Right. Seems like the basis for any relationship is great communication.

Toni Rhorer:

Exactly.

Meredith Metsker:

So, Toni, you’ve built a lot. You’ve built partnerships with admissions in multiple graduate business schools now, including at Arizona State and then, now at UC San Diego. So can you just tell me a little bit about what your process looks like and how you’ve gone about building this partnership between career services and admissions?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. So kind of back to the communication, of course, and maybe sort of any tenants of good relationship building. I do think the first thing is building trust with people. So I have actually only been at Rady for a little over a year. So quickly, coming in in a new role, building a new team, I need to build trust with people pretty quickly. And I think in order for people to allow you to come in and help advise and help with those processes, they have to see you as credible in what you do.

So again, not sort of making assumptions that people, “Oh, well, I’m the director of career services, so I must know what I’m talking about.” Versus coming in and having those conversations, maybe bringing some data with me to support what I’m saying. So I think building the credibility and trust is a good first step to allowing people to want to collaborate with you, want to listen to what you have to say. I think those are sort of the parts of it.

And then, having had experience that I can bring to the table as a talking point, as a starting place. And again, maybe knowing how my information could benefit admission. So being able to help them understand what I could bring to the table and how that’s going to benefit what they’re doing as well and how all of that, overall, is going to lead to better outcomes and a better experience for students.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So now could you tell me how… Again, this could include both Rady and your experience at ASU. But how is your team partnered with admissions? How are you all embedded with each other?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, great question. I’ll talk about both separately because it’s a little bit different. And I think part of it was, at ASU, I was there for 10 years, so I was there for a long time and was able to really build up that relationship. It changed over time from my predecessor, who was the director and was sort of on the admissions committee but not really embedded in the process. And then, we were able to shift that so that the career team was a lot more embedded in the entire process.

And so, at ASU, the career team was in every single full-time MBA interview. So, in every interview, there was an admissions rep and a career person. And so that was a big part of the process. And then myself and the executive director both sat on the Admissions Committee as well. So it took a while to get there, but we were a really big part of that process. At Rady, we’re still building that.

Obviously, I said I was new. When I came in, I had to really focus on hiring people on my team, so I had to hire nine people this year. And so, my focus has been a little bit different, but we are now starting to look at ways that career could be more embedded in the admissions process. I am on the full-time MBA Admissions Committee right now. And I think in both schools, and a lot of schools do, this admissions host a lot of events. So it’s not just the kind of interview process but also prospective student events.

So we do partner with our admissions team a lot to make sure a career coach or myself are in a lot of those sessions for students. We have at Rady developed some specific events around career outcomes and what the career support looks like for students if they were to come to the program because those are a lot of questions that students have when they’re looking at programs, not just the outcomes but, “How are you going to support me through that process?” And so I think, overall, we are embedded that way.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. I’m curious when you or some of your colleagues in the career center sit in on those interviews, what’s your role in that context?

Toni Rhorer:

Mm-hmm. So if we talk about the interviews at ASU, it evolved again over time. But prior to my leaving, I was actually involved in creating the interview questions and also in helping to train everyone on how to give a good interview. And so that was kind of a fun shift in what we were doing there because we thought, who better to talk about how to interview than the career people who teach people how to interview, right?

And so that included the career team too, who needed to learn how to give good interviews, right. And we shifted away from this idea of you have a list of questions you ask, they answer, you ask another question, and really move to kind of a deeper way of interviewing people where you could really try to assess their capabilities and what they’re bringing to the table. And so I helped with the training and the questions.

And then, during the interviews, the goal was assessment of the interview and bringing those two different perspectives, the admissions, and the career team, together to really say, “Okay, is this student going to be successful in the program? Are they going to be a good team player? Are they going to bring something valuable to the program? And then also do they have the coachability, the critical thinking, the things that we meet them to have to do a successful job search and then become a great alum in the process.”

Meredith Metsker:

Okay. So kind of going off of that. You mentioned in our prep call last week, again, that a big part of that partnership with admissions is working and being in those interviews with potential students.

And you also mentioned that in your time at ASU, you did a lot of research. You came up with a list of competencies and a list of specific interview questions. So can you share a little bit about that research and those competencies, and the questions you came up with?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. So I think the thing to think about is with a graduate business program or a business school, the reason they exist is to provide business talent to the business community, right. So you’ll find in business schools that the faculty and the program directors are working very closely with business leaders through advisory boards or through alums to shape the curriculum so that programs are teaching the things, the skills, the qualifications that students need to be successful in the jobs that they’re going to, right.

So there’s a real collaboration between the academics and the market. And so, when thinking about what we are assessing in an interview, it made sense to think about what’s the market looking for and what are the academic programs looking for. And where is there a synergy there that we’re kind of looking for the same thing. And can we develop questions around that so that we’re assessing for the success out in the market? And so my process on that was to look at employers and look at what they were looking for. And we used the consulting industry as our benchmark.

And so what I did was I went on those consulting sites, and I looked at their career pages, and I found the things they were saying they were looking for candidates to have. And then, I went on the websites of peer institutions and their admissions pages, and I looked at the competencies they said they were looking for students. And then I kind of brought those together to see where things kind of matched up. And from there came up with five competencies that we wanted to test for. So those were things like motivation and goal setting, business aptitude, problem-solving, inclusion, and impact.

And those were things that aligned both with what the market was saying they wanted and what the programs were saying either they wanted. Or those are the things they’re teaching in the program and they want students to be interested in. So I think a fun example is maybe business aptitude because we are a business school, right. And so, obviously, employers who are hiring business students want students who understand business, right. They need students who understand how corporations are organized, how they operate, what affects them, and that’s what we teach in business school. So if you want someone coming into your program, they should be interested in what we call the business of business.

Meredith Metsker:

Right.

Toni Rhorer:

And so, it doesn’t mean they need to know all of it, right. That’s what we’re going to teach in the programs. We have lots of students who come from non-business backgrounds, but they should be interested in it. And so with that question, one question that we would ask is, imagine that you are the CEO of your current company. What are three things that keep you up at night? And so it’s kind of a fun question.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah.

Toni Rhorer:

But it also really gets to are people thinking deeper about what’s happening in the economy, in the market, how things are shaping the industry, how that’s affecting your specific company, and what you think someone who’s a leader in that organization should be thinking about, right.

And you get some really interesting answers. And because we were only asking five questions in the interview, we could really probe on the answers and ask more, “Tell me more about that, and what do you think about this? Or do you think maybe this is something they’re thinking about?” And what you can assess from that is really intellectual curiosity, right. Have people been paying attention to what’s happening? Have they done their research? In their own company they’re working in, do they know what’s happening and how different trends in the industry are affecting their business, their products, their customers? Can they think broadly?

And then, with the probing questions, we’re really looking for students who can kind of take direction from that and that sort of coachability. And so I think that’s just one example of how we kind of looked at what the market needs, what the business school needs, and can ask a question to try to assess where students at in that.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay, that was a great example. So you mentioned you ask, is it five questions? So is it one question per competency?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. So the way that we kind of organized it was each of those is one competency, and we would give the interviewer sort of prompts on like, “Here are the things you’re looking for in the answer.” And then, we would give them a couple of kind of follow-up questions in case they didn’t have any or just to get the probing questions going. That’s a skill in and of itself is being able to give a good interview. You should know, right?

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. Yep. Lot of active listening.

Toni Rhorer:

Right and exactly. It takes a lot of active listening during the interview to listen to what the candidate’s saying and then try to dig deeper on some of those things. And again, can you assess some critical thinking there? Are they looking broader? Do they understand maybe what they don’t know about business and what they want to learn about it, right? And so yeah, it’s a fun way. So we would do just the five questions, set it up so that the interviewers knew sort of what kinds of things they were looking for.

But the thing about the questions is there’s no right or wrong answer, right. There’s no wrong answer to what are three things that you think keep someone up at night. But it’s really more kind of the sense of how curious are they to learn. Have they been following business news? Do they understand how things affect what’s happening, right? So it’s kind of a fun way to do the questions, I think.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. I’m curious if you’re able to share what are the four other questions?

Toni Rhorer:

That’s a good question. Well, typically, they don’t publish their questions. But I think a very general on the motivation goal setting is kind of like, why would you want to do an MBA, and why do you want it now? And again, graduate business programs are pretty rigorous, right. The specialized masters program’s nine months to a year. They’re very fast. There’s not a lot of time. There’s not four years undergrad where you can change your major six times and sort of figure it out later and do three different internships to assess if you like it or not.

You really don’t have the opportunity to do that. You have to make some decisions and set some goals really quickly in the program in order to do all the other pieces. And then also it’s kind of back to the business aptitude as well. Do you know why you want to get an MBA? Do you understand what this degree can help you do what you want to do with it? Doesn’t mean you have to have a very specific one job that you’re looking for, but why are you coming here? And I think that’s something a lot of schools ask. Problem-solving, probably more around a behavior-based question. “Tell us about a time you solved a difficult problem?” And again, kind of looking for something broader like, “Who did you go to for advice? How did you… What other sources of information did you use?”

So really digging in on what is your process for problem-solving because MBA programs are rigorous. You’re in teams. There’s always some issue, some problem that needs to be solved, which is the same in business, right. When you’re out in your job, it’s the same way. So how do you approach problem-solving, which, I think, is great to dig in on? We do ask about in terms of the inclusion, ask about working with diverse teams, and what does that mean to you? And again, kind of digging in on how do you advocate for other people on your team. How do you help people feel heard? So some of those questions that maybe people haven’t thought about before. But again, it’s going to help you in the program, and it’s going to help you in a job as well.

And then impact. So companies are really looking for people who are results-oriented. They want people who are interested in making an impact in their work. And it’s the same in a business school. We want people to make a difference, and we’re not looking for students who just want to come in and get a degree and leave, right. It’s a whole experience. In the MBA program, we want people to join clubs and be leaders and help their fellow students in other ways and make an impact in that way. And so really kind of asking them around maybe different accomplishments they’ve had or an impact they’ve made along the way. And then again, digging into that and what’s important to you. And maybe a question that we’ll hear at the end from another person is sort of like, “What will your legacy be when you leave here?”

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, I like that. Yeah, great. Thank you for sharing kind of the general… the questions you ask for each competency. I think that’s helpful context, maybe for other folks who are looking to strengthen that partnership with admissions. I’ve heard you mention, both today and then our prep call last week, the term coachability a few times.

And so I’m wondering, was that one of the things that you were seeing that employers wanted and that other schools wanted? And if so, how do you gauge that?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, yeah [inaudible 00:31:38]-

Meredith Metsker:

That’s kind of a nebulous one. How do you gauge that in an interview?

Toni Rhorer:

That is a hard one. I think with the coachability, really, for me, it’s a big part of career management and being able to work with a student. If someone is not coachable, it’s very difficult to help them along the way and help them pivot if things change and if they’re off track, right. People, in my experience, who I would say are not coachable are people who don’t listen to feedback, aren’t willing to take it, aren’t willing to pivot for that. It’s a tough thing to assess, I think.

But in terms of the interview process, what we would be looking at is those probing questions. And are we trying to redirect them to talk about something else, and do they take that cue? I think a good one is around the motivation, and why are you coming here? Why do you want an MBA? And people usually talk about their career goals, and sometimes in… I think it’s very typical for students to say what they think you want to hear, but it may not be something that sounds aligned or achievable, or realistic. Or I think a good example is if a student chooses a program like Rady, we’re in San Diego, we’re not in a big financial area.

And if someone says, “I want to come to Rady and be in investment banking.” And then I’m going to probe, and I’m going to say, “Well, okay, but why would you come to Rady for investment banking? Why wouldn’t you go to a school that’s aligned with that, that has more opportunity and whatever?” And then I would listen to sort of how they respond to that kind of question because I might say, “Well, why Rady? Why not somewhere else? Okay, well, you understand we don’t have big investment banks here hiring students out of our program, so what would you do in that case?”

And so I’m listening for some of those. “Well, maybe I’m open to financial analysts in another company until I can move, or I’m willing to relocate and go somewhere else.” So I’m kind of looking for how they respond to those. And I think that’s why the interview process is difficult and takes a lot of practice because you have to really listen and be able to pivot your questions to see… to get at what you’re trying to get from them. And then you have to recognize if they’re taking the cues or sometimes it’s very straight and narrow, “Well, that because that’s what I want to do, and I’m going to do it.” And so see how we have those conversations.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure that’s an interesting process. So kind of in addition to the interview side of things, I’m curious how or if the career services team partners with admissions for the pre-interviews, marketing, getting people to apply in the first place. Is it largely just sharing with them some of the career outcomes, or how does that part of the partnership work?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, I think it’s a couple of things. One, yes, the communication. So making sure… I think it’s our responsibility on the career side to make sure our admissions team is armed with all the information they need to help students and answer those questions. So yeah, some of that’s on the career outcome. So making sure they have the data they need to answer questions. Often those students are funneled to my office and we’ll answer some of those questions for them as best as we can.

I think kind of what we talked about before is partnering on a lot of the prospective student events and helping them answer questions, but sometimes just being there. I am a huge advocate for my team being everywhere they can be. So it’s sort of Career Everywhere.

Meredith Metsker:

Career Everywhere.

Toni Rhorer:

I think we actually… I kind of a couple of time hashtag [inaudible 00:36:17] Careers Everywhere to be visible to students. And it may not even be that we’re even saying anything. But if my team’s there and prospective students see the team, and they see the support, and they see how integrated we are, I think that helps them feel more confident about the type of experience they’re going to have when they come into the program.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. If it was me, I would feel a lot more comfortable and excited going into a program, knowing that I would be supported career-wise. Because as you were saying before, with a graduate business program, they are there for a reason. And it is to get a great job or to get more income or whatever it may be. There’s a very specific reason.

Toni Rhorer:

Yes, exactly.

Meredith Metsker:

So kind of on that note, again, you’ve mentioned that graduate business students tend to be a lot more engaged with career services than maybe a typical undergrad would be. So aside from partnering with admissions on those interviews, the events, the marketing, et cetera, and having more influence on the incoming class of students, how do you go about engaging so many students so often?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, great question. And I should mention, I do have only five career coaches on my team. And so-

Meredith Metsker:

Whoa.

Toni Rhorer:

… even though our programs are small, it’s still again that expectation that everyone’s going to get an individualized support for that. And so I do think the first thing to really think about is how you define engagement. I think that’s a really key part. And I think traditionally career services people would think a one-on-one advising appointment that’s career engagement. But I think we can look at it broader.

I recently listened to one of the former podcasts from the woman from UConn who was talking about their Career Champion program, and they’re kind of educating faculty on career stuff that they can deliver in the classroom. That’s engagement, right. It’s not a career coaching appointment, but it’s engagement with career content. And so I think when you think about engagement in broader terms, then you can think about how to deliver that at scale.

And so the way I look at it is there are core career competencies that everyone needs. All students. I don’t care if they have 20 years of work experience or two years. And I would say personal narrative. So how do you introduce yourself? How do you connect the dots for people? The networking. Of course, the resumes and cover letters, the interviewing skills, the personal branding, the negotiation, all of those things everybody needs.

And so you don’t need to deliver that content to every student individually, right. That’s impossible. So when you think about the core capabilities, then you can think about how can you deliver that in a group setting or to the mass of students. So for those, we do build workshops. So we do group workshops for all of those topics. And then the other thing is not everyone needs to come to a workshop. They might just be able to engage with the content.

And so that’s where we use our website, which is built on the uConnect platform. Of course, huge advocate for that because we have our own career management model, and we have communities for each of those core competencies. And for each community, then we can highlight the resources and information students need to know. So 24/7, this is the Career Anywhere, right. 24/7, a student who needs information on how to negotiate a salary can go to the website and find that content, right. They don’t have to necessarily come and talk to someone individually.

So all of those are delivered in something that’s going out to a group of students, a workshop, the website, a newsletter. So content like that. And then students need some more targeted information on those topics. So, for example, our Masters in Business Analytics students, yes, they need to know how to do behavior-based interviews, but they also need to know how to do technical interviews, and that’s very specific to them.

So when we think about targeting those competencies, we would look at things like partnering with our student clubs or our alums. So our coach for MSBA might partner with the data analytics club, and they might create a specific workshop on technical interviewing, or we might invite alums to do a panel and then do some mock technical interviews. And then when we get to somebody’s very individual strategy, developing a deeper core skill, then we look to the one-on-one appointments.

And then that way, the coaches, when they meet with students, it’s high value. They’re getting a lot out of it. They’ve already gotten the basic instruction they need, and now we can tweak that and make it so that they’re super competitive in what they’re looking for. And so I think scaling the services is something… Again, we have less than 1,000 students in our business school, and at ASU, they have 100,000 students.

So when you think about how do you deliver individualized attention to people, I think you have to look at your engagement and how you’re delivering across different platforms in that way and define it differently and have the data. The data’s really important to be able to track those things. “Who is coming in for a one-on-one appointment? Okay. These students didn’t come in, but they did go to a workshop, and they did watch these videos online. So they’re still engaged even if they didn’t come to a one-on-one appointment.”

Meredith Metsker:

Right. I like that. It’s kind of modernizing that approach to what engagement actually means.

Toni Rhorer:

[inaudible 00:42:57].

Meredith Metsker:

It sounds a lot more efficient. So kind of pivoting back to the partnership there with admissions. I know you’re still relatively new at the Rady School. But across your experience at Rady, at ASU, and so on, what results have you seen after building these stronger partnerships between career services and admissions?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. So it may be difficult to sort of measure some of that success and assign kind of a causation. But I think just on the personal side, really building more collegiality with the teams. At Rady, there are a lot of new people. I have a lot of new people on my team. Admissions has some new people. We also work with the advisors and the program directors. So I think part of that is just building those relationships across the team so that we’re not isolated.

Especially now, we’re in still kind of a hybrid work format, so not everyone’s on campus at the same time. But again, I think it’s always nice to have those colleagues that you trust that you know what their goals are. And if we get students asking us, prospective students, we can send them to the right admissions people, or they feel comfortable sending them to us with questions.

So I think overall that gives candidates a more streamlined and smooth experience with the school and the process of applying overall. And then I do think… Again, I don’t know how we might measure the success on it. But I do think having those diverse perspectives in the admissions process will bring in students who not only are successful in the program but that we feel can be really successful in their job search.

And then I think an added bonus of being a part of that process on the front end is that we get to know students earlier in the process, and then we can shape our content. We can shape our programming, just for example, if we know we have, say, more young students coming into the program. Okay, we might need to focus more on career decision-making early and give them more exposure to different business careers.

Or if we have a large group of students coming in that are not from business backgrounds, what kind of resources do we need to give them? So it helps us kind of shape how we’re going to work with that class when they come in. If we can see them on the front end, and we can develop some programming through pre-orientation and get them up to speed by the time they get to campus, and then they’re hitting the ground running.

Meredith Metsker:

That’s a huge benefit.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

Just having the time to create that content is… As a content marketer, I can attest that that is huge.

Toni Rhorer:

Yes.

Meredith Metsker:

Having time to think through the specific topics and what’s most valuable is a massive result, for sure.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah.

Meredith Metsker:

So I’m curious, what advice would you give to other career leaders in graduate business programs about how to build a better partnership with admissions?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think kind of, again, starting with the relationship building. I would say build your credibility, have some data, have some information that’s helpful. And then I would say understand that collaboration looks like a lot of different things. So I think, at ASU, we were lucky to be really embedded in the process in helping create the questions and helping to train the interviews, to be in the interviews, to be in the committee. And that’s great. That might not be possible.

At Rady, I don’t have a team that could be in every interview. We just don’t have the bandwidth. So what are other ways that we could partner with admissions to help them have that perspective as well? So again, it may be some of the prospective student events. It may be content. So a lot of prospective students right now in business school are worried about all the layoffs that are happening, especially in the tech sector, because a lot of our schools have really big business analytics programs.

So prospective students are asking about this, right. And, “What is the school going to do to help me in this kind of job market?” And so even being able to provide the admissions team with some key messages around that is helpful. So I would say a conversation, as always, around how can we help. What would be helpful? And then partnering that way. And again, if you can be super embedded in the process, it’s great. But I think there are a lot of ways to team together.

I know a lot of people use their website and have kind of a prospective student community. We don’t have that on ours. But we do work with the admissions team to use our website to show students, “This is how our career team is supporting students in all programs. And even though you might not be able to access all the resources, you can see that we have curated content for every community and every program that’s constantly changing and dynamic.” So again, a good way to kind of help the admissions team in talking with prospective students to help them understand what kind of support they’re going to get while they’re in the program.

Meredith Metsker:

Kind of reminds me of what you were saying about your team’s presence at physical in-person events too. Seems like you’re doing that both in person and digitally. So I can see how that’s a big part of your strategy. And I can imagine, as a prospective student, if you’re seeing at least part of that online presence that you have, I imagine that would be kind of a game changer between your school and other schools when they can see what kind of support, what kind of resources they’ll have access to as part of admission.

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. It’s sort of funny because, a lot of times, prospective students reach out, and they want career outcome data, and sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t. But I usually respond with a message around, “I think what you really should be thinking about is how the career team’s going to support you while you’re here.” So they can maybe assess that across the board when they’re looking at other schools as well.

Meredith Metsker:

There you go. All right. Well, I see we’re kind of coming up towards the end of our time here, so I’ll start just wrapping this up. Toni, is there anything else about this topic that you would like to add?

Toni Rhorer:

I think we kind of talked about it all. But as you said earlier, I think it all starts with a conversation and having some communication around the goals and how people might be able to work together. Again, career is not in isolation, so students don’t come into a program and do their academics and then, at the end, do career, right.

It’s something they need to be working on the whole time they’re in the program. And they need to be able to connect the dots of how the things they’re learning in the classroom, how the things they’re learning from being a part of a team, how those things are going to affect their own career management. And so just kind of having those conversations across the board is really helpful, I think.

One thing we do at Rady that I really love is all of the programs meet weekly or biweekly with the executive director of the program, the admissions rep, the advisor, and the career person. And every week or other week, we’re talking about the program and what we’re doing and how we’re supporting the students across all of those different areas. And I think that helps a lot.

Meredith Metsker:

Okay, so it’s not just communication with admissions. It’s communication with everybody.

Toni Rhorer:

Everybody. Yes.

Meredith Metsker:

All right, great. That was some great additional advice and context. Toni, if anyone listening or watching this… listening to this or watching if they would like to connect with you or learn more from you, what’s a good way for them to do that?

Toni Rhorer:

Yeah. I think LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people. Also, if you go on the Rady website and look at our team, we have a direct link to connect on LinkedIn, or somebody could just look me up.

Meredith Metsker:

All right, great. So now, to kind of close us out. At the end of every interview, I like to do… ask a question or answer a question, leave a question kind of thing. So I’ll ask you a question that our last guest left for you, and then you’ll leave a question for the next guest.

So our last guest was Junior Delgado of Westfield State University, and he left this question for you. When you decide to leave or retire from your place of employment, what are three ways that individuals in that organization will describe you, or what will they say is your lasting impression?

Toni Rhorer:

So what goes around comes around, right. What’s my legacy here? So what I would say, let’s see. Three things I think people remember about me or think about me. One is just I love career management. I am really passionate about just the topic about helping students succeed in their career. And I love working with a career team and helping build my team’s capability in career management. So something I’m super passionate about, and if people let me talk about it, I talk all day.

And the other thing is I love working in higher education. I think working at a university is honestly one of the best things in the world. And whatever institution I work at, I’m super passionate about being involved and doing the tradition. So if the school has a tradition around Halloween, I’m the first in line with a costume. I really love doing that kind of thing. And the last thing people often comment on is that I love fashion and clothes. And I always love to dress up at work, and I like to talk about it. And so something people comment on a lot.

Meredith Metsker:

Oh, I love that. Those are three great things. All right. So what question would you like to leave for the next guest?

Toni Rhorer:

All right. So I think I would like to ask. If you had a magic wand and you could affect all of career services across the board, what is one thing that you would change?

Meredith Metsker:

Ooh, big question. All right, I like it.

Toni Rhorer:

So I’ll be interested to hear the answer on that one.

Meredith Metsker:

Yeah, I think it should be a good one for sure. All right, great. Well, thank you so much again, Toni, for taking the time to talk with me today. I think our listeners and our viewers are going to get a ton of value, really actionable value, from this episode. So thank you so much again.

Toni Rhorer:

Great. Thank you, Meredith. It was really great chatting with you today.

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