St. Louis Outreach Trip

PDC Staff Coach's Corner

Last semester the PDC Career Coaches visited major US cities on outreach trips to connect with alumni and build relationship for future opportunities for students. This is the third blog in the series. (Previous posts: Minneapolis; Denver)

Companies Visited: Monsanto; Wells Fargo; Anheuser Busch; Purina; EdwardJones; Build-A-Bear
monsantoI met with Kimberly Prescott, a University Recruiter, and we joined an organized tour of the development area.  We saw green houses, plants in development and the R&D shop that makes proprietary equipment to be used in seed development and research.  Monsanto is a global company, which sells seeds and works with agriculture.  Their challenge is to manage a lot of data (they described farmers in their fields sending data on soil, water, crop yields, etc., from iPads)…..managing big amounts of data is their most immediate need. They will sponsor International students.

Kimberly stated the corporate core values:

  • Relationships and networks (it is a large company, and employees need to seek out the resources they need)
  • Initiative and foresight (people need to develop to the point where they can run their own projects
  • Results-oriented
  • Agility (keep up and know when to adapt
  • Courage and candor

Most positions are recruited in the Fall, and while most of the students hired are from a science, agriculture or engineering program, they do have some business roles.  They hire 350 interns or Co-op students per year, and 35-50 of these could be for sales.  Because they hire so many interns or 6-month co-op students, their full-time hires typically come from this pool.  New entry-level staff have 9 – 12 months of orientation.

There is a 3 day October student leadership event which students can apply for on the Monsanto website.  This is the best way to network and interview for an internship.  They consider business roles to be their “foundation team”, and includes HR, finance, procurements, IT and Mktg, and MBA rotations in supply chain.

wells fargoWells Fargo Advisors is headquartered in St. Louis, MO., and is expanding in Salt Lake City.  I arranged the visit with Katie Wootten, an HR manager in the Wealth Brokerage Group, but met others while I was in the office.  Their offices are open with a lot of natural light… stations are located throughout and work space where employees can collaborate away from their desks is provided. They say they are the 2nd largest brokerage firm in the U.S., with $1.17 trillion in retail client assets under management and described an increasing need for financial advisors, as baby boomers retire and also as financial advisors (FA) retire.  They also are very eager to increase the diversity of their financial advisors, to assure they can reach potential clients of all ethnicities and both genders.  They are driven by these core values:

  • People as a competitive advantage
  • Ethics
  • What’s right for customers
  • Diversity and Inclusion (in fact there is even a VP in charge of diverse FA integration and growth, Angela Ruffin-Stacker))
  • Leadership

Diane Gabriel and Eric Vanderleek joined us to talk about the FA role (they call this role Financial Advisors Solutions).  New hires do a 2-year boot camp in St. Louis to get comprehensive training (can move after that 2 years), starting with 13 weeks of self-study guided prep for Series 7 and 66.  Base pay is $37,000 but eligible for bonus after 6 weeks and typically FAs earn $60-80,000 in year 1.  No cold calling – clients come from their branches.  They are looking for people who are competitive, confident with a willingness to learn.

They have a sophomore leadership conference in February in 4 different cities for students interested in commercial banking and investment banking.  They may offer juniors a similar experience, described as a 2-day externship during which they can interview for a summer internship.  Students who are hired for I-Banking or Sales& Trading internship work 10 weeks primarily in Charlotte, North Carolina, or NY or San Francisco.   They also offer summer internships in commercial banking, Infrastructure support and Insurance services.  Full-time hires for financial analysts go through a 3 year development program and then are placed in positions for credit analyst, relationship manager, portfolio manager, and credit management training program which leads to an internal mini-MBA.

Martin Skea, the Managing Director of the Client Contact Center told me about 2 roles which are more of an entry-level full-time position and a way to progress into FA after 2-3 years.  The first is a Customer Service role, largely performed on the phone, in which staff interacts with active clients to answer questions and handle some routine matters.  The second role is in brokerage operations processing the service.  These staff resolve customer complaints, research inquiries do compliance work and reconciliations.


In BevMet Eller alumni Leslie Goodrich for lunch at the BierGarten.  Leslie graduated Dec 2011 and has worked at Anheuser Busch In Bev (ABI) since Jan., 2012 as an analyst in Logistics/demand planning.  She works with wholesalers to push out product to them according to a schedule.

ABI recruits for interns and entry level full-time staff mostly from their core schools…..they recruit from same schools as Walmart – MIT, Purdue, Michigan.  However, you can use their Careers page on their corporate website to apply for internships/jobs if you are from a different school.  There are full-time development programs for Sales & Mktg, Technology, Logistics and Brewery, but also Global Mgmt development program and the people hired for this latter role must show a lot of drive (personalities like people in I-Banking, Leslie said).  This Global group enjoys most of the promotions.  Since InBev bought AB, the work environment has become more pressured and Leslie said she works 60 hour weeks.  The business is very data driven and no one gets changes approved unless they can show how the data indicates this is called for.  In her area, strong Excel skills are imperative and she said when she is looking at resumes, she only considers college grads if they have an internship or work experience.   Sales and Mktg will be moved to NY (recently I checked the website and this has happened…….as of May 2015, though, they were seeking bachelor’s degree with 3 years of experience).

PurinaMet with Jarrett Brooks from HR at Purina.  He described the internship interview process as a 30-45 minute phone interview, then face-to-face for 3 hours, one hour with each of 3 interviewers.  They cover the travel cost and hotel.  Their interviewing is behavior question based, but they want to hear answers with details – what resources did you need to use, what was your strategy, what was the outcome?  Housing is included with the internship in St. Louis, and it lasts for 12 weeks.  It is important for a candidate to show initiative and that they can be a good team member.  After accepting an offer for an internship, these students are expected to be ambassadors for Nestle Purina on campus.

Full-time hires for Sales positions are trained to be territory managers, and after 2 years typically go into a planning or analyst role OR sty with the sales group but go up the management chain.

EJEdward Jones (EJ) currently has more financial advising offices than there are Starbucks in the U.S.  While there are about 14,000 offices, they would like to expand that number to 20,000 by the year 2020.  EJ is headquartered in St. Louis but has operations in Tempe, AZ also.  Their financial advising model is neighborhood-based.  A typical office is staffed with one FA and an assistant, and is often located in a strip center.  EJ prides itself on making every business decision for the benefit of their FA clients; they have a conservative investment policy and a long-term view.

I met first with Ryan Sunnenberg, a University recruiter who comes to UA about 3 times per year.  The headquarters offices are beautiful…..lots of glass and open space and natural light.  He described opportunities for both internships and full-time as split between FA and “home office” (although home office can be in St. Louis or Tempe).  The training for full-time FA is rated highly in the industry and takes about 7 – 9 months before a person would step into a role of filling in for an established FA….in about one year, you could be on your own.  The home office full-time hires generally go into a rotational development program.  This tracks with EJ’s philosophy of wanting employees to move around within the company to find the best fit, whether it is wealth management (managing a client’s assets) or the trading floor.

I went to lunch with Brian Rapoport, a Dec 2011 Eller (Finance) alumni.  Brian interned in Tempe when he was a rising junior and then convinced EJ to take a chance on placing him in an internship in Product Review in St. Louis the summer when he was a rising senior.  He accepted an offer from that group and is now an analyst, and likes that his role is similar to what he could do for Goldman Sachs or Citi group but he works 40 hours a week (He finds EJ to be very respectful of their employees.)  The result of his work is a ‘buy’ or ‘not buy’ decision for securities (and EJ FA must follow this decision).   This puts Brian into a position of meeting and talking to CEOs of large corporations.

BABVisited Build-a-Bear……this casual office in an industrial area of St. Louis is their headquarters but they also have a large warehouse in Groveport, Ohio.  Their corporate atmosphere is very collaborative.  Everyone is expected to be a self-starter who can handle a fast pace.  Looking for people who work hard, show personality and pitch in to help wherever it is needed.  I met with Cheryl Chadwick, a talent scout.  Cheryl said internship recruiting starts in December but if you go into their website early you can set up a profile and get an email when your opportunity opens up for applications.  Marketing and IT are the biggest needs for internships.  Students get projects to work on and then present at the end of the 10 weeks.  Their marketing team is breaking their customers into segments (boys 2 – 6 years old, for instance), doing research on the prospects of sales in each segment and then focusing product development to improve sales in each segment.  They are becoming more analytical and data driven.

They are not increasing the number of stores, but doing some consolidation and using the Imagination store model more often (more computer oriented experience for the customer).

Cheryl was very clear that students should not overstate their abilities or experiences on resumes.  In fact she said she doesn’t want to see ‘leadership’ on a college student’s resume!  But she does want to know what you did at any job you’ve had.