Tag: Weston Career Center



Students listen as WCC Director Jen Whitten discusses the importance of competitive advantage in all stages of your career during the students’ immersion in Barcelona in July 2019.

In the midst of spreadsheets and cases and site visits and speakers, full-time MBA students are also spending time thinking about themselves and their career journey.

On Day 4 of the Barcelona leg of the MBA global immersion experience, MBA students attended a Weston Career Center-led session “Defining Your Competitive Advantage.” The students were divided into four groups for the session, which relied on a mix of presentation and small group exercises.

Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the career center, began the session by discussing the importance of knowing who you are, what’s important to you and where you want to go. She stressed that you must be clear on these things to be able to effectively present yourself and your story.

When an opportunity arises—and that could be any time—you need to be ready to convey your best self, whether it’s while you’re networking or interviewing.

A team of MBA students get to know each other—and themselves—as part of a small group interview exercise in Barcelona in July 2019.
A team of MBA students get to know each other—and themselves—as part of a small group interview exercise in Barcelona in July 2019.

Students paired up for personal interviews, each spending five minutes talking about himself or herself. When the class came back together, they shared their thoughts on what they heard from their partners. That was followed up with the pairs conducting second-round interviews with thought-provoking questions as prompts, including:

  • What’s the one activity you most love? How have you made it part of your career?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • Tell me about an experience you’ve had that most others don’t.
  • What do others tell you is your greatest strength? What do people come to you for?

While in Barcelona, Whitten will conduct another session with students to discuss ways to leverage LinkedIn and how to enhance their social media presence. In Shanghai, the career coaching continues on two fronts, starting with developing career search strategies and effectively targeting organizations.

The second area of focus is preparing for case-based interviews by integrating classroom learnings and strategic insights into your personal narrative.

Pictured at top: Students listen as WCC Director Jen Whitten discusses the importance of competitive advantage in all stages of your career during the students’ immersion in Barcelona in July 2019.




The Weston Career Center sponsors several career treks across the globe that provide opportunities for students to meet with alumni and hiring managers in various industries. Yiling Han, MACC ’18, contributed this reflection on her experience from the Accounting Trek in Hong Kong in January. 

My greatest takeaways from the Hong Kong trek were the connections I made with local firms and the insight I gained from insiders’ perspectives. This trek provided me with intensive interactions with accounting professionals from diverse backgrounds, such as HR managers, senior auditors, tax managers, and consultants.

In two days, I received guidance on how to apply for accounting positions in the Hong Kong market, and I learned how to become more efficient in researching options for my career. I also gained a comprehensive understanding about different corporate cultures and key qualifications for positions in different fields of accounting. Overall, the experience provided insight into how best to proceed with job applications at Hong Kong accounting firms.

Details of the career trek

The trek exposed me to leading accounting firms in Hong Kong, including Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, BDO, and Mazars. During each company visit, the company staff introduced the firm, the service lines, resources for employees, and opened the floor to further discussion with students. The staff also provided company tours of the offices to assist in our understanding of their workplace environment.

Our tour began at Edinburgh Tower in Central Hong Kong, where we visited the HR manager of PwC. Our primary interest was to learn more about the company’s culture and job opportunities in the Hong Kong office.

From discussions with company recruiters and accounting professionals, I learned about the firm’s recruiting process, the first-year work experience at PwC, and both the professional and interpersonal qualities of a competitive applicant. To no one’s surprise, most of the firms expected full-time employees and interns to communicate using both Mandarin and English at work.

The Hong Kong trek was not just a series of company visits; it was also a great networking opportunity where we built relationships with people from the Hong Kong accounting firms.

For example, by the end of meeting with Mazars, the firm treated us with snacks, and we chatted for an hour with the auditing director partner, learning from his career experience and outlook on graduate employment.

I believe this is a valuable opportunity to build personal connections, which goes a long way toward making a lasting impression with these firms. It also gave the company officials a better sense of who we are and introduced them to the quality of WashU students and the Specialized Masters Program. I really appreciate the practical experience this trek offered in preparing the Hong Kong trekkers for employment opportunities in Hong Kong.

Pictured above: Members of the Hong Kong trek at KPMG. Greg Hutchings of the Weston Career Center; Yiling Han, Hee Cho, and Rachel Han, all MACC ’18.




Job and internship offers come in a variety of forms. You may receive an offer over the phone, in writing, or sometimes even in person. If you are completely sure you are going to take the job, you can accept immediately. More often, when you receive an offer, you must carefully weigh whether to accept it. The Weston Career Center offers these tips for successfully navigating job offers:

Look before you leap

There are many factors to consider, such as location, salary, and benefits. Avoid making a hasty decision. Research and evaluate these factors to determine whether the job truly is a good match for your career goals. Respond to your offer professionally and with enthusiasm, and arrange the next steps with the person making the offer.

Most companies will give you a deadline and lead time to allow you to consider the offers. Some employers expect you to negotiate and do not make their best offer initially. Other employers have rigid pay systems with little flexibility. Determine beforehand the type of organization with which you are dealing. Once a company makes an offer, the ball is in your court. Ask for the offer in writing in order to have solid information on which to base your decisions.

Determine important factors

Before you can know how closely an offer matches your goals, interests, and values, you must know what they are. When considering a job at a particular company, prioritize these factors.

  • Work/life balance
  • Personal values
  • Salary/signing bonus
  • Level of responsibility, challenge, and intensity
  • Team versus independent work environment
  • Opportunities to use your skills, expertise, and interests
  • Learning, helping, and decision-making opportunities
  • Whether you like and fit into the culture
  • Geographic location
  • Physical environment and working conditions in the workplace

Consider all factors

Give yourself time to consider all factors. Make arrangements to call the person back to ask additional questions. Next, evaluate how well the position matches your career goals. Finally, prepare questions about other position details that have not been addressed.

Consider the following factors:

  • Does the company clearly define your responsibilities in the job description?
  • Do you understand the reporting relationship and organizational structure?
  • With whom will you be working?
  • Have you met your team members?
  • What else do you need to know to evaluate whether the culture is a good fit for you?
  • Given the company’s financial performance, are you taking any short-term or long-term risks in accepting the position?
  • What formal, informal, on-the-job, or external training does the company provide?
  • When and how does the company evaluate and reward performance?
  • When are the typical raises and bonuses for employees at your level?
  • When is the starting date?
  • When and how does the company provide relocation assistance?
  • Do you understand the benefits package? Benefits can add another 30–40 percent to your compensation.

Before you negotiate, gather information

Collect information

Doing your research can help you establish a salary range for the job and other benchmarks for each element of your offer package.

  • Visit salary websites.
  • Network with current and past employees in the company and in the career field. Olin alumni are excellent sources. Also, ask about benefits, bonuses, commissions, perks, moving expenses, and compensation structure.
  • Check salary statistics provided on the WCC website. Data is available by job function and geographic location.

Compile information about cost of living

  • Review websites that offer cost-of-living comparisons.
  • Speak to contacts who live in the area.

Determine how much income you need

  • Establish the minimum income to “get by” and the maximum you could be making under ideal circumstances.
  • Estimate monthly expenses.

Assess the demand for your skills and experience in the marketplace

  • Talk to alumni and the WCC career advisor to learn how strong your negotiating position is in the current market.

Could you use the support of the Weston Career Center or Management Communication Center? Schedule an appointment today. 




If anybody has any qualms about making a trek to visit firms, be assured that it’s worth it! I left New York after day two with a better understanding of the financial industry, investment best practices, what employers are looking for, and most importantly, what we could offer with the skills we’re learning in the Master of Science in Quantitative Finance (MSFQ) program.

This year’s annual MSFQ Trek to Boston and New York involved visits to Man Numeric, Wellington, Fidelity, DE Shaw, Point72, and PIMCO. These firms represent some of the top names in the mutual fund and hedge fund industry, and are the result of the Weston Career Center’s work in cultivating industry relationships—to the benefit of those in the MSFQ program.

It was a busy two-day trip. Each morning we started at 9 a.m., going full throttle until 4 p.m. When we were not learning about the different asset management firms and their investment strategies, we enjoyed connecting with our classmates. As we shuffled from meeting to meeting, we talked to directors, recruiters, portfolio managers, analysts, and WashU alumni. Each of the firms was gracious with their time and answered questions generously. DE Shaw even surprised us with hoodies!

Since our programs ended on Friday, we got part of the weekend to tour New York as well!

Special thanks again go to the Weston Career Center, especially to Molly Sonderman for handling logistics, and to Greg Hutchings for accompanying the 17 students who went!

Guest Blogger: Stefan Yu, MSFQ candidate and President of the Specialized Masters Program Council


Find the latest information on Weston Career Center events and career treks by visiting the Olin Careers website.




Sally Pinckard of the Weston Career Center

Sometimes the most difficult interview questions are very unexpected, designed to test the candidate’s ability to think on his or her feet and innovate. Don’t be surprised if you get a seemingly off-the-wall brainteaser, like “How many ping pong balls can fit inside the Olin atrium?”

Demonstrate your confidence and ease with ambiguity by being prepared. Most interviewers are really trying to gain information to assess: (1) can the candidate do the job; and, (2) does the candidate fit your culture and organization. These are not trick questions.

Also, being well-read on current events (i.e., read The Wall Street Journal daily) will provide context for small talk, or even help to articulate a business point of view based on current events.

Let’s explore specific questions that often surprise a candidate, or could make one uneasy but requires fortitude and confidence:

A few tips for replying to tough interview questions:

“Tell me about yourself.”

A common opener, this broad question can “throw” many interviewees. It is, in fact, a “sell-me” invitation. Develop a brief summation of your background leading into your interest and desire to work for the organization, as well as your qualifications for the position.

“Why should we hire you?”

From your research, you should know the qualifications for the job. From your own self-analysis, you will have gained insight into your strengths and accomplishments. Mention key functions of the job and discuss your skills in relation to these functions. Use experiences from previous jobs, internships, and activities as examples to support your answer.

“What are your long-range goals?”

In your company research, determine what position you could reasonably reach in five years. Speak to others who have successfully advanced themselves in the organization or profession. Express your desire and capability to grow within the organization. While you may be unsure of your future plans, demonstrate your knowledge of potential career paths.

“What is your greatest weakness?”

Everyone has weaknesses, but remember not to answer in a negative way. Turn your weakness into a positive. For example: “Because I tend to procrastinate, I have learned to work well under pressure and to always get work done on time.”

“Tell me about your schooling.”

The key to this question is to keep your reply positive. Speak well of Washington University and any other schools you’ve attended. You are a product of your schools’ educational programs. Be prepared to address questions about low grades, changes of major, favorite classes, etc.

Guest blogger: Karen Heise, Interim Director, Weston Career Center

Could you use the support of the Weston Career Center or Management Communication Center? Schedule an appointment today.