Careers & Student Outcomes

Lessons for a Lifetime

School of Business BT290 course gives first-year students important insights necessary for job search success.

The integration of the latest technology into the Stevens School of Business curriculum is not just about the tools and knowledge you need to perform a job. It’s about making sure you have the right skills to get the job in the first place.

The Business Career Seminar, a requirement for every first-year student in the School of Business, is a no-credit, pass-fail course that was created in 2017 by the Stevens Career Center and the School in response to the growing industry trend of hosting recruiting opportunities for underclassmen.

“We wanted to make sure that our students felt prepared, had their resume and cover letter ready, and their interview skills were up to speed,” said Dr. Nicole Malantchouk ’12 M.S. ’18, the School of Business’ director for corporate outreach and professional advancement and an instructor for two sections of the course. “Students were invited to these events focused on underclassmen, such as externships or early Insights programs, and we wanted to make sure our students were aware of those opportunities and prepared to start the interview process.”

Originally offered to students during their second year on campus, the feedback, while positive, began to suggest it should be moved earlier in the curriculum. In response, the course is now taught during students’ first year.

“It's low pressure because we also recognize that students might not be interested in taking on an industry role quite yet,” Malantchouk explained. “They might have travel plans, family business obligations, want to spend the summer with friends or[MOU1] working back at their high school jobs. The way we teach it, they’ll have the tools, whether they want to use them now or put them on the shelf for later.”

The topics discussed in the class, like resume and cover letter writing, and behavioral interviewing, stay consistent, but how they are taught are often reflections of current industry trends.

“We edit it each year based on feedback,” she said. “We decide whether to spend more time on a topic or add a new flavor based on something we've observed in industry. For example, this semester, we’re integrating AI tools into writing cover letters and managing applications.”

For example when automated interview products like HireVue began to be widely used in the last few years, their functionality quickly became part of the course curriculum. These platforms prompt students with a question, and they have a limited number of takes to record their response. The software scans the video for filler words and is trained to track, “all those things which can be very intimidating for students” such as where they are looking, their background and the lighting.

HireVue is used as part of the seminar’s interview assignments, and the Stevens Career Center has purchased similar software for students to practice mock interviews.

“The whole goal of the course is for students to be exposed to these tools and situations before it counts,” Malantchouk said.

That is the “Powered by Technology” part of the equation. The “Inspired by Humanity” portion comes through the myriad of guest speakers who visit the class to provide real-world advice and help students build and expand their network. This semester, speakers include team members from EY, Bank of America, Paramount, Citi and PGIM Fixed Income.

Rochelle Okhtenberg is a member of the Class of 2026, majoring in finance and minoring in economics, who took the course in the spring of 2023. She will be an intern at Broadridge Financial Solutions for the upcoming summer and an investment banking analyst at Mizuho in the summer of 2025.

During her time in BT290, Rochelle had the opportunity to visit with Kelly Petit de Mange ’12 M.S. ’12, an Executive Director at CIBC Capital Markets focused on growing the bank’s Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) Banking franchise in the U.S., and Ronak Shah ’17 M.S. ‘17, a Director also focused on growing the bank’s TMT Banking franchise. Both had previous experience at Mizuho.

“The opportunity to be able to meet and network with business professionals from the comfort of your school is something that definitely sets you up for success, whether or not you end up working in their company,” she said. “Having been able to hear about Kelly’s and Ronak’s experience in the TMT group at Mizuho and getting an opportunity to get the insider’s look at how the company works and what their culture is like made me confident that I had made the right choice.”

“I think the whole process of getting a job is you being super motivated,” she continued. “Listening to these people speak and tell their stories is something that really motivated me, personally. That's something that made me want to go out and get as much experience as I possibly can.”

That feeling of inspiration comes a bit easier when the person at the front of the room was in your seat not that long ago.

Petit de Mange graduated from Stevens with a bachelor’s degree in quantitative finance and a master’s degree in applied mathematics and currently serves as a member of the School of Business Board of Advisors. Shah earned his bachelor’s degree in quantitative alongside his master’s degree in financial engineering. He is also an alum of the Student Managed Investment Fund.

“This is a great forum to be on campus to network and share insights from my experiences with the students relatively early on in their career journey,” Petit de Mange said. “The business school has evolved so much from the time that I was there. These students have so many different opportunities at their fingertips so being able to shine a light on corporate and investment banking and spending time with the students is rewarding.”

Learning about all the avenues available to her was one of the key takeaways of the seminar for Anastasia Vatrenko a business and technology major in the Class of 2026. After taking the class last spring, she is working as a grader in the course this term. Anastasia is set to intern at Prudential this summer and on the equity sales and trading team at Morgan Stanley during the summer of 2025.

“I think going into your sophomore year of college it’s expected that you start to figure out what you really want to do,” she said. “How else are you going to know what you want to do unless you talk to people who are doing it? A lot of students don't really take the time to connect with people on their own and figure out what alumni are doing or what people that they found on LinkedIn are doing, so it's great that some people come back and talk to us.”

“This class was something that shed light on different areas of high finance, and I’m going into a sales and trading position. It showed me different roles and what exactly they entail, and that's not something you can just read online. Hearing somebody's first-hand experience is great.”

The students are not the only ones who benefit from the interactions. Companies that speak during a class session build brand recognition with an attentive audience rather than try to get noticed during a crowded career fair or recruiting meet and greet.

“It’s through these smaller, sort of niche on-campus interactions that companies can build relationships and have that designated spotlight in front of an engaged audience where they have already set aside time,” Malantchouk said., “I think it can be more beneficial for companies to come into the classroom.”

“It [the seminar] helps serve as a pre-first round interview for us,” Shah said. “We're not only advertising the firm, but also looking to help students begin their careers. Interested students who come speak to us after the session, or reach out after the fact, help us remember who they are. That way, when they are ready to potentially participate in our recruiting process, it enables us to connect them with colleagues and help with the initial stages of the interview process.”

While the seminar doesn’t guarantee an internship or a job after graduation, it does provide Stevens School of Business students with what they need to be ready for any opportunity.

“I got my job because somebody wanted to help and saw potential in me, and that can happen for literally any student,” Anastasia said. “The biggest piece of advice I learned is if you put in the effort you get a result.”