Welcome to MCEEA’s Faces on Campus campaign!
Over the next year – we will be highlighting the career educators and employers who make up our great organization. Each week we will pay tribute to the individuals who devote their lives to helping students take that key first step into their professional career and the businesses that welcome and develop them into the professionals they will become.
We hope you enjoy the insights, stories and laughs of the people of MCEEA.
This week takes us to the employer side of things as we meet with Alyssa Boucher – a Senior University Relations Manager with Rock Central which represents Rocket Companies and its subsidiaries, including Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Auto and many others on campuses.
JB: Are you recruiting for a wide variety of different roles or are you niched in a certain vertical?
AB: Technology and sales are definitely our two largest areas for recruitment at Rock Central. Especially when working at a company as tech-driven as Rocket Mortgage, it makes sense that we have such an intense focus there. We do have opportunities that are more niche focused, like marketing, government relations and finance, but, at the end of the day, sales, information technology, data analytics and software development are huge areas for us.
JB: I know Rocket Companies is spread out, with offices throughout North America, but where do you recruit from? What campuses are you responsible for?
AB: I am based in Detroit, so a lot of my work is focused in the Midwest. I'm responsible for Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Indiana University and, even more recently, we expanded into the Canadian market. So, working with University of Windsor, University of Waterloo, and St. Clair College.
JB: When you go out to campus, what sort of events, activities, sessions do you like to do to promote the brand?
AB: I think my all-time favorite presentation that we have is on building your presence, and what does that actually mean? How do I get better at showcasing who I am and what I have to offer? It's working with students on things like communication. Communication in a virtual world versus in a physical world. My body language doesn't mean anything if I don't have my camera on. Tone means something totally different in an email versus an in-person conversation. That's probably my favorite presentation, but we do a lot on the soft skill side. We obviously have the presentations that talk about us as a company and our incredibly strong culture, but the ones that really make an impact, I feel, are the ones that are actually teaching something and helping educate on different soft skills that you can build.
JB: When you look to recruit college students, obviously, the IT professions follow certain majors or credentials earned, but when you're looking to recruit from a sales perspective, are you looking for sales majors and minors or more personality traits? What's an ideal candidate in that space look like for you?
AB: The nice thing about sales is to your exact point about not needing to look at a specific major or degree. Yes, there are schools that have the programs. You can get a minor in sales, you can get a major in sales, but experience doesn't just come from the classroom. My sales experience came from being a waitress for four years. What we're really going to look for is more so the soft skills that come with the trade. Your perseverance, time management and adaptability to the different people who you're working with. So, for sales, a minor or major is nice, but I'm more so going to be looking for the out of classroom experience in related fields, whether that's as a bartender, waitressing, receptionist or whatever that other area might be.
JB: When I think about Rocket Mortgage, for example, I think obviously, mortgages. Does having something like a finance major or economics put someone ahead? Or is it something that really doesn't weigh on your decision?
AB: It's really going to come down to the interest. People don’t really get taught the nuances of a mortgage in school. Most people are going to need one, one day, but unless you're looking for a house to buy, it doesn't really affect you. We're more so looking for someone who's interested in the housing market. What's going on out there? How does that impact people, especially during a time like COVID, when things are up in the air? Outside of people who are interested in the housing industry, we look for people who want to impact the outcome. For us taking care of our clients during a pandemic is so critical. So to answer your question, no, you don't have to come in and give me the definition of a mortgage, but, can you understand that we're trying to help clients achieve the dream of homeownership or help others save money through a refinance? Then, we can really have a deep, thoughtful conversation. It's more so an interest in the market more so than studying finance and can give you this definition.
JB: Let's talk about the culture. I'm sure each individual brand within Rocket Companies has their own unique culture, but is there a particular culture you look for or look to cultivate? Then as you've gone from a private to a public company over the past few months, has that changed at all?
AB: Overall, we define our culture with 20 sayings that we call our “ISMs.” They're very, very simplistic things, but they're at the forefront of our mind with every decision we make. “Do the right thing,” “Obsessed with finding a better way and” ”Simplicity is genius” are ones that really resonate with me. We make these very public because that is what we're looking for in our candidates. I don't need you to come fresh out of college with all this unrealistic level of experience other employers require, but are you going to be obsessed with finding a better way? Are you going to be asking questions and trying to improve processes? Being a culture fit is very, very important to us. As we transitioned from a private to a public company, we were reassured by the highest leaders in our organization that the ISMs were here to stay. They are more important than ever if anything. One thing I'm very thankful for is our culture has not changed.
It is really important for students to understand what that culture is. We don't want you to come in and just start doing things without thinking critically. We want you to question them, we want you to make us better. We're hiring you because you're coming in with a fresh set of eyes that me, who's been here for four and a half years, don't have anymore. I've been in this role, and I've been here. We're really, really looking for those who are curious, solution oriented and who are looking to do the right thing.
JB: Let's pretend it's a career fair and someone's not heard of you. What's your pitch? What is Rock Central?
AB: At Rock Central, we're a professional services company, that’s going to help our clients be the best at whatever it is their business focuses on. If you're Rocket Mortgage, we want to give you the best people to assist clients and help someone through a great mortgage experience. We're supporting these companies and making them as successful as possible. Letting them focus on the things that they do right. They're experienced in the mortgage industry, they're experienced in developing technology, let's just get them the additional support they need so they can execute at the highest level.
JB: Do you have a favorite brand within Rocket Companies that you like recruiting for the most?
AB: Anything technology. Technology is such a fun area. I mean, they do their own hackathons four to five times a year. I get to see the products our interns work on when they’re on our Rocket Technology team and build things like a button that's live on the website. What a cool opportunity for them to work on a website that brings in nearly 10 million visitors every month. Technology is easily my favorite. I can't say within a specific company, I would just say technology as a business area. Especially software developers, they are a lot of fun to hire for.
JB: How many interns in a typical year does the family of companies typically bring on board?
AB: I would say pre-COVID we were looking at about 1000 interns over the course of a year. The biggest group comes in during the summer, ranging between 600 to 750 people from across the country. I would say during this year, because of the pandemic, we're probably going to fall closer to around the 750 to 800 number. We're looking at bringing on 500 this upcoming summer. That is a good range to fall into during such an unusual environment.
JB: I know you mentioned majority of them are in the summer. I know specifically, you guys offer unique internship times for athletes that are non-summer related or more split throughout the year. Talk us through some of the other opportunities that are non-traditional internship times.
AB: We have a winter and fall programs as well. The winter session falls between January and April. Fall would be from September through early December. We do have other unique opportunities, like you mentioned the student athlete program. In addition to that, too, we also have internships specifically aimed at veterans called Tour of Duty. It is a six-month program meant for those who are either transitioning out of college after their military service or those transitioning directly out of military service and into a civilian career.
JB: Walk me through generically, what the hiring process would look like for an intern or a full time start?
AB: You're looking at about a two to three interview process. That first one or two interviews are going to be with a recruiter who specializes in the role you're applying for. Then, the final interview would be with the actual hiring leader who you would potentially be working with. This all stems from an application that you submit to our website, www.myrocketcareer.com. We, as recruiters, find applicants through the site and help them with the background check process. I would say, overall, the process normally takes about a month to a month and a half.
JB: Do your candidates go through any sort of assessment, whether it's personality or skills based?
AB: Our sales candidates go through what we call Shaker. It's more so of a time management assessment, it takes about 45 minutes to complete. That is the only assessment for interns, at least. Our full-time technology team members go through a Hacker Rank Assessment, but that's just for full-time, not for interns.
JB: And when you look at that first few weeks of an internship, or the first few weeks of a new hire from an onboarding perspective, what sort of introductions to the culture or training does everyone go through regardless of department?
AB: We’ve actually moved our start dates to Fridays now, so that first Friday is more so for you to get your technology in order, figure out how to set up your laptop and make sure yourlogin and all that fun stuff works. On that following Monday, you will go through orientation and learn about our ISMs. This is when you’ll get answers to important questions, including how do I find someone in the company? Where's the directory? How do I request time off? Things of that nature. So really, the first day and a half is just going to be orientation with everybody else who's starting on that day, regardless of department. And then at the end of that day, you essentially go with your team and training takes place from there that's more focused on your role and business area.
JB: Do you have a favorite question you like to ask on an interview?
AB: One of the things that tells me the most about a candidate is what are you looking for out of this internship? At the end of the day, you're looking for an internship because it's experience. Every single person is looking for that. But what are you hoping to walk away with at the end of this summer that you didn't walk in knowing? Is it that you're hoping you have a project to showcase? Is it that you're looking to learn a new coding language? Is it that you're looking to work on your public speaking skills and be able to talk to a group of 50 students when you couldn't do that before? That's just one of my favorite questions, because I think it tells you a lot about what a student is actually looking for. It also gives us a clearer picture of what teams we could potentially pair them with. All right, great, you're looking for a public speaking opportunity. I'm not going to put you on this team that's only working on small internal projects, I'm going to put you with a team that's going to be able to give you that opportunity. So that's probably one of my favorites to ask.
JB: Do you have a red flag that you see, throughout the interview process that someone shows some trait or answers a question a certain way that instantaneously, they are a no?
AB: If a student doesn't have questions for me, that is a red flag. You're potentially going to be spending 40 hours a week somewhere for the next 10 to 12 weeks, or if it's a full-time role, who knows how long. I would hope that you'd have questions. So, if a student doesn't have questions, that’s a red flag for me and I'm usually out.
JB: How long have you been involved with MCEEA?
AB: I would say probably the last three years, since I moved into a campus recruiting space.
JB: Do you have a favorite event or activity or something MCEEA sponsored that you've attended or been a part of that stands out the most to you?
AB: I think our yearly conference is probably my favorite. I did have the opportunity to co-host a portion of a conference once. My teammate, DJ, and I got to do a talk on the student athlete program we ran. That was my first time ever speaking at a conference, so that was awesome. The event really is the time for us all to get together and brainstorm about what we are doing and what's going on. I definitely think that's my all-time favorite opportunity.
JB: So that brings up my next question. When I look through the membership for MCEEA, as I was planning out this series, we're predominantly career educators, and it's a very small percentage of employers. So, what for you, makes it something that you want to participate in? Why should other employers look to join as well?
AB: It's going right to the source of things. I have a question about technology students. Alright, sweet, there's 15 Career Services team members right here who can tell me everything that's going on at their department. If I have a question about sales and sales internships, they can point me to other recruiters who have done this before, and I can potentially learn from them too. It really is the truest source of information, and it's nice too because it's all localized. As great as it is to be able to network with these other larger companies, if you're doing this in Sacramento versus doing it in Ann Arbor, or Detroit – where we are headquartered, there's going to be a lot of differences. Whereas there's a lot more level setting, I think, and a lot more similarities that we can learn from and address to a group like MCEEA.
JB: Let's pretend that MCEEA has unlimited time and funding. What sort of things would you like to see added to the programming? Or what changes would you like to see or advice would you have for the future?
AB: To be honest, I actually think it would be really cool if we added in a student committee as well. We have these educators, we have the companies, but I think it would be really cool to have a student group too. These are our reps. At the end of the day, every decision that we make as MCEEA, students are affected by it. We might want to get their opinion on the things we're talking about, or what's going on in general. I think that would be a really, really cool opportunity for them. But I do also think it would be great just to get some type of training and development as a whole group. But yeah, I think bringing the students in would be helpful because at the end of the day, the things that we talk about ultimately affect them.
JB: If someone is interested in following your career path to become a University Relations Campus Recruiter, involved in this space, what sort of advice would you give them?
AB: I would say talk to your HR department on campus. That's actually where I got started was by working human resources on campus. It was technically an internship for three credits, so I think I did three hours a week. But that was exactly where I learned what parts of HR I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do. That's also where I got to see recruiting take place. Talking about hiring athletic coaches and hiring staff on campus. I would definitely say get involved at your current university. I would also say you should start to think about where recruitment happens. Anytime you've interviewed for a job, recruiting was a part of it. Anytime, you're involved in a student organization, and you're bringing students on, that's recruiting. I would just say get involved in those types of opportunities, because that's how you're going to figure out if this is what you really want to do. Definitely a good place to get started is in your organizations and on campus.
JB: To ask you a cliché interview question, if I can. Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you see yourself staying in university recruiting long term or moving into more of a traditional HR function, or focused on recruiting experienced hires? Where do you see your career path taking you?
AB: I definitely want to stay somewhere around the university space, whether that's specifically recruiting, whether that's specifically an event-based position, I'm not 100% sure. I do love the technology area, so maybe it is moving into things more like capstones and hackathons on campuses. I definitely want to stay around University recruiting, preferably, in the technology space.
JB: Opportunity for shameless plugs. Are there any events you want to highlight or websites you want us to link?
AB: www.myrocketcareer.com is where all of our job postings are live. That's where you can learn about our diversity, equity and inclusion plan. That's where you can learn more about our ISMs and our culture. Everything lives at myrocketcareer.com.
Faces on Campus is a weekly interview series highlighting members of MCEEA conducted by Joe Bamberger of Emerge Consulting. Be sure to follow MCEEA on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MCEEA.org
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