PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world's largest professional services firm and one of the Big Four accountancy firms, held a successful internship recruitment campaign at WVU this fall. Of the 30 students accepted to PwC Pittsburgh's internship program, eight, or 30%, came from WVU. This represents twice as many as the four that were accepted into the program in 2011.
"WVU is tied for the top school in the market. It's a strong result, especially when compared to the past. We continue to be impressed with the quantity and quality of the students that we see on campus," said Steve Haffner, Firms Relationship Partner at PwC Pittsburgh.
Haffner said that WVU has been producing higher quality students by focusing on career development.
"It's a direct function of the quality of the curriculum at the WVU business school in general," he said. "(The quality) has continued to raise its standing to attract top students. Attracting those top students and giving them a focus on careers, that's what we're seeing as the difference. Earlier on, students are being exposed to the bigger firms, including ours, and it's making them more focused on doing the right things earlier on to do well in our recruiting process."
Accounting student Amanda Newpol, who was recently accepted into the program, is a fantastic example of how doing the right things and preparing well make a huge difference.
"The biggest thing I did was making sure I stayed on top of things," Newpol said. "Before this process even started, I made sure I had a friend in every class that could take good notes for me (since traveling for interviews can interfere with class), and I had to make sure I found time to study between interviews since all this happened right around midterms. It was definitely a test of my time-management skills."
Kate Fiefer, the PwC recruiter for WVU, explained that even though the recruitment process is lengthy and involved, B&E students were more than up to the challenge.
"It's an ongoing process," Fiefer said. "We were (at WVU) a number of times throughout the semester, doing workshops, booths and networking events. We're there year round to connect with students. Student turnout was solid. We had frequent interaction with those who were selected. They really took advantage of those opportunities."
Accounting student Zak Adkins, another recently selected PwC intern, is one of the students that made good use of on-campus opportunities. He attributes landing his internship with PwC not only to his skill set, but also to networking with the company at events hosted by WVU's chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national scholastic and professional organization.
"'Meet the Firms' and other professional events are a great way to get your name out and build relationships with recruiters," Adkins said.
Newpol, who also attended the Meet the Firms event at the beginning of the semester, agreed. "I didn't think much of it at the time, but a lot of the people I talked to at Meet the Firms were really involved in the recruiting process and actually remembered meeting me that night. Already having that connection with someone when you're in a room full of people you've never seen before is the most helpful thing in the world," she said.
Not only does the familiarity benefit the potential intern, but it benefits the company as well.
"The students we recruit typically have multiple offers. Often their decision comes down to the level of comfort and familiarity they have with a firm. So we're there as often as we can be," Haffner said.
But the faculty and students, while huge parts of this process, are not alone. Alumni play a role as well.
"We have a number of relationships because of the professional staff we have here in (PwC) Pittsburgh. A number of our staff were top students with the faculty at WVU and they have maintained those relationships. Frankly, they are excited to come back and recruit," Haffner said. That excitement is matched by the enthusiasm of B&E students, staff and faculty.
"The resources and opportunities that are available to those that have experience in the Big Four is invaluable," Adkins said, expressing his eagerness to work with the globally renowned firm.
With an increasing number of PwC interns from B&E like Newpol and Adkins, the relationship looks poised to grow even stronger.