How to catch grads before they ‘opt out’

One global financial services firm is taking steps locally to attract the best and brightest students from a wide range of disciplines

How to catch grads before they ‘opt out’
For the second year running, financial services firm J.P. Morgan has kicked off the Singapore leg of its annual campus recruitment campaign with a pop-up café at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The campaign is an innovative concept aimed at attracting undergraduates from across multiple disciplines for careers with the firm and educating them before they ‘opt out’ of pursuing certain career paths due to misconceived notions that they may not be suitable.

Supriya Doshi, head of HR for Singapore at J.P. Morgan, told HRD that last year’s event saw over 1,000 students take part, of which 650 showed keen interest in J.P. Morgan and registered for upcoming events and program information. 

“We also received positive feedback from students and the respective universities career services, hence we are running it again this year and organising similar careers pop-ups in Australia and Hong Kong as well,” Doshi said.

The Central Forum at the NUS campus at Kent Ridge Park was transformed into an al fresco-style café where over a period of four hours students were able to network with former NUS graduates who have since embarked on successful careers with J.P. Morgan. 

The NUS venue is the first in a series of careers pop-up cafés that J.P. Morgan will roll out on varsity grounds in Singapore this year; the café will also ‘pop up’ at Singapore Management University (SMU) on 9 March and then moves to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on 14 March. 

The pop-ups are designed to provide a relaxed and informal setting for students to engage with the bank’s employees over coffee and snacks in order to learn more about the company. 

“This is a great opportunity for students to get to know J.P. Morgan, our people and our culture in a casual setting,” said Doshi. “By bringing in analysts and associates who were once in their shoes, the students would be able to get tangible career advice and get more insights on a career in financial services industry.”

Given that it has always been competitive to attract top talent in Singapore, not least at graduate level, the company isn’t restricting itself solely to students with business or finance backgrounds. J.P Morgan is also looking for talent in operations and especially technology, as the firm considers itself a technology company which employs 40,000 technologists globally; the majority of its over 3,000 staff in Singapore work within the firm’s global tech hub for J.P. Morgan. 

The pop-up café initiative aligns with one of NUS-Centre for Future-ready Graduate's (CFG) missions. 

“The CFG organises more than 300 industry talks and networking sessions on campus each year to connect students to employers. We’ve observed that many students, in the belief that they may not possess the right attributes, self-select themselves out of applying to certain brand-name organisations, even though the reality is that such organisations are seeking greater diversity in background and skillsets. Hence, we think that J.P. Morgan’s initiative to run this pop-up careers café concept is a great way to be more accessible to the broader student population,” said Crystal Lim, director of the Centre for Future-ready Graduates. 

“We welcome students from all disciplines and majors, not just business or finance,” confirmed Doshi. “An inclusive and diverse workforce makes smart business sense. Bringing together employees with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables us to produce more innovative ideas and better solutions for our clients.” 

There are certain traits that J.P. Morgan is on the lookout for. Students must: be eager to learn; have an interest in financial services; have well-rounded experience inside and outside of the classroom; and have demonstrated ability to master new skills via strong academic performance. 

From there, J.P. Morgan’s own training and mentorship programs will help build future professionals. “Each of our programs has unique training and mentoring tailored to help our interns and analysts to be successful in that area of the business as well as provides the foundation for them to be successful throughout their career, Doshi said.

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