LinkedIn praises Laurier business

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

Last week, LinkedIn released university rankings based on the career outcomes of their graduates. The rankings look at which Canadian schools have allowed their graduates to obtain desirable jobs.

Wilfrid Laurier University ranked second for marketers, second for investment bankers and fourth for finance professionals. The other two categories were accounting professionals and software developers.

The rankings are meant to be a tool to help high school students decide where they want to go for post-secondary.

“We really wanted to help students identify the universities that are getting people into desirable jobs,” said Danielle Restivo, head of global programs on the communications team at LinkedIn. “That was the key behind this.”

Brian Smith, professor and area coordinator of finance at Laurier, said he wasn’t surprised by the university’s rankings.

“We have some strengths in helping place students in the finance industry,” he said. “Probably the most prominent one is the co-op program.”
Smith explained that in order to obtain finance jobs, especially those in investment banking, students need an edge over candidates from other universities.

“When you get a co-op position and you do well, it’s like having a four-month interview,” he continued.

Laurie Lahn, manager of marketing and external relations at the co-operative education centre at Laurier, said that between 50 and 70 per cent of students who do co-op will receive a full job offer from a previous co-op employer.

“I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve seen our finance employers grow from a few employers to more than a 100 students on Bay Street in Toronto,” Lahn said. “I think our students are landing jobs that would have typically went to Queen’s or Ivey, but because of the co-op experience it’s given them the edge.”

Restivo explained that this is just the first stage for the rankings. The study was conducted in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, but they want to expand this to other countries.

In Canada, there are more than nine million members on LinkedIn — compared to the number of professionals in the population, this is a very high saturation.

“I think one of the reasons we were able to start with Canada is because we could have a really accurate picture of what’s going on because of that saturation,” she said.

While the professions they focused on in Canada were largely business-related, Restivo said they do have plans to expand this.

“It was a matter of where we could get the data,” Restivo said.

“We looked at where members went after they graduated, what kind of jobs they held now. If they’re working for companies where we’ve seen a lot of activity on their company pages and their job postings, we considered those to be desirable jobs because they’re popular among our members.”

Mike Pegutter, a bachelor of business administration graduate from Laurier who is now working as a financial analyst at LoyaltyOne in Toronto, said he believes the rankings reflect how the Laurier business program prepares its students for the workforce.

One of the things he liked about the program is that students don’t select their specialization until third-year, while other schools require students to choose a stream right away.

“A lot of the people that I know that went to Laurier — they seem to have a little bit more of a holistic view of the business as opposed to saying

‘I’m in accounting, I only care about accounting,’” he said. “I think it helped prepare me, especially to approach business problems.”

He continued that his experience in the BBA program allowed him to access jobs that were desirable for him due to the hands-on activities the program affords, such as looking at case studies.

“Having that case approach definitely helped me a lot with being comfortable with talking to senior people within my company and then also being able to get my ideas across concisely in presentation form,” Pegutter said.

But the ice challenge in fourth-year is what he feels really prepares students. Students are put into randomized groups and are given a challenge by a real company which they must provide solutions for.

“You’ve had that exposure to do a presentation — you’ve worked with a group that you haven’t been able to decide yourself, which is a lot more real because at work you can’t really pick who you work with all the time,” he said.

According to Kalyani Menon, an associate professor and area coordinator of marketing, one of the reasons Laurier ranked so well in terms of marketing is because of the type of students they have coming into the program.

“They’re very motivated,” she said. “In terms of marketing, we’ve been getting good feedback for a long time. I think over the years we’ve been very conscious about adding new courses that are current.”

“We’ve kind of known it all along, but to get this external validation from a source with this kind of reach like LinkedIn, that was certainly exhilarating,” said Menon.

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