"WE ARE UNIMPRESSED BY RECRUITERS, SOURED BY USELESS SUMMER TRAINING PROGRAMS..."
Dear Mr. Galvin:
The grapevine is a powerful medium for the exchanging of student ideas and the forming of student opinions. The grapevine has been running sour toward business in three major areas: recruiting, summer training and jobs, and actual training programs.
Many student applicants express dismay either with the recruiter or with the methods he uses in promoting his company. In a controlled post-interview rating session at the University of Michigan, students tended to give a low rating to interviews in which (1) the recruiter was too much of a machine, working by rote; (2) he wasted the student's time by not being businesslike.
Likewise there seems to be a general feeling among students that summer training programs are a waste of time, while summer jobs are more beneficial. Robert Betts, placement director at Catholic University, feels that many grave misconceptions that students hold about business can be cleared up by a program of summer jobs.
Company training programs are the biggest area of student dissatisfaction. The "over-hire" method, or the survival-of-the-fittest program is one big reason for dissatisfaction. The other big reason is the inability to gear training programs to the potentials of the student.
In promotion, why are some industries afraid to tell us both the good and bad sides? To put it in the campus idiom, why can't business "lay it on the line?" Sincerely, Fred W. Sayre University of Arizona
POINTS OF VIEW about business are exchanged in this fourth of a continuing series of dialogues between Fred W. Sayre, University of Arizona student, and Robert W. Galvin, Motorola chairman. Similar dialogues in campus newspapers and on campus radio stations are taking place between Mr. Galvin and other university students.
Dear Mr. Sayre:
I can understand your concern about some recruiters and their methods. Training programs, too, have been open to criticism.
Nepotism in some summer training programs and "make-work" assignments have not made good impressions on college students looking for meaningful experiences in business. This must change, and it is changing in many businesses. Recruiting techniques and training concepts certainly do need up-dating in some cases. At Cornell University last year, 310 of the 427 recruiters who visited the campus did not attract one single graduate. On the other hand, one company--IBM--hired 30 graduates from Cornell alone. Some recruitment programs are effective. Others are not.
A study of recruiting advertisements and brochures reveals that many companies are changing early job assignments and advertising emphasis to fit student interests. An advertisement by Phillips Petroleum features a photograph of a young executive of the company, and his own words: "Phillips have given me a chance to 'create' myself ... I feel I am becoming a more complete person." He describes how his changing interests led him from the lab to the semi-plant, to process design, to market research, to international sales development.
Another advertisement lists "10 good reasons for choosing a management career with AETNA." Good salary and benefits are toward the end of the list--of prior importance are, "Opportunity for independence in thought and action," and "Challenges that utilize talent."
Alcoa appeals for people with imagination, new ideas. A Western Electric ad tells undergraduates; "We replace shiboleths at a terrific pace!" and issues a welcome to young men who will "create a stir... upset an old applecart."
There are still plenty of the old-fashioned, stereotyped recruitment pitches, too. Hopefully, Mr. Sayre, a great many more companies will have revised not only their recruiting approaches, but also the way they handle college graduates who do come aboard, by the time you are ready to select your career.
To my knowledge, training techniques are undergoing revision in some major corporations, while others have conducted highly sophisticated and effective management training programs for some time. General Electric, for instance, has a number of successful training programs. A 3-year training period might give the impression of being a tedious undertaking.
"Not at all," says Mark Nilsson, a young man in the second year of G.E.'s 3-year Financial Management Program. As a trainee, Mark has held positions in the company's Flight Propulsion Division as Supervisor, Sundry Receivables, Accounts Payable, and Supervisor, Cashiering & Management Control and Reporting. His six-month assignments have included supervision of cashiers at G.E.'s Ohio and Massachusetts facilities; cost analysis responsibility on SST and TF39 programs, and responsibility for working funds at G.E. plants in New Mexico, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
In addition to supervisory positions, Mr. Nilsson has conducted one-man assignments in such areas as cost analysis for government proposals. Other training programs currently under way at G.E. include a Manufacturing Training Program and a Marketing Training Program.
Procter & Gamble's highly regarded training program features planned personal coaching instead of the large classroom instruction and menial tasks often associated with a training program. The company's unique approach pays off with some first-class management material.
Although I agree with you that more companies need to overhaul their recruitment practices and training methods, we must not over-generalize because changes are in progress.
Look at more recruitment advertisements, study more literature from more companies. See more companies first-hand. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Robert W. Galvin
Chairman, Motorola Inc.