BKD Life

Inside BKD Campus Recruiting

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Sarah McGrath breaks down her role in the recruiting process and shares some unforgettable team friendships.

BKD campus recruiters are essential when it comes to building the next generation of leadership. Whether planning activities, building relationships, or attending campus career events, these BKDers keep busy year-round helping young professionals find their way within the public accounting world. Nebraska Recruiter Sarah McGrath works with BKD’s internship and new associate programs and is grateful for the chance to do this alongside a team of remarkable BKDers.

“We’re all extremely passionate about what we do,” says Sarah. “We’re also just about as close to family as you can get.”

A typical campus recruiting schedule

Kaylan and Matt—back when in-person career fairs existed!

Kaylan and Matt—back when in-person career fairs existed!

In a normal year, campus recruiters are rarely spotted in the office for months at a time. Recruiting season starts when schools resume session in August, and from then until November, you can find a recruiter out in the wild at career fairs, office hours, late-night student organization meetings, coffee chats, interview days, and additional events for anywhere from five to 10 different campuses. Then essentially everything changed for recruiters in response to the pandemic, when student organization meetings, coffee chats with professors, and all other events switched to virtual platforms.

While the transition from in-person to virtual career fairs was jarring, it helped recruiters manage their time better and connect with more candidates than usual. “There are silver linings,” says Sarah. “But one of the key things for me as a recruiter is being able to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye and introduce myself. I think that’s what I miss the most.”

A recruiter’s responsibilities extend far beyond campus events. Camp BKD, the firm’s exciting onboarding training event, occurs during each fall recruiting season. This means recruiters may be assisting human resources managers with orientation, updating leadership for each office, or doing welcome activities. Each year ends with the Talent Acquisition Summit, which gathers recruiters across the firm for a two-day collaboration, and then recruiters head into spring planning mode where they plan intern events and hold coaching meetings. During the spring recruiting season, recruiters do all the same tasks they perform in the fall, plus facilitate the spring intern cohort and welcome new January hires.

“I think a lot of people think we go out to career fairs and then we’re done. But it’s a huge, ongoing process,” says Sarah.

The candidate experience and benefits of BKD

One of the most important parts of the process for candidates is to envision themselves going to work at BKD. Recruiters are as transparent as possible throughout the process to help candidates understand the commitment involved, and lead office tours throughout the year. Since recruiters are on the front lines of BKD in talking about our culture, they also receive continual education on firm initiatives and take significant strides in building an inclusive workplace. Over recent years, BKD has placed a greater focus on partnerships with ethnically diverse organizations and campuses to help welcome new talent and skill sets.

As a large firm, BKD offers all the great things that come with size—big clients, firmwide resources and technological tools, access to expertise, and lots of opportunity. But you’ll also find it feels like a small firm through opportunities to form family-like connections and receive personal attention and a supportive learning environment. BKD also offers the flexibility for employees to pursue the changes needed in their career, even if that means transferring to a different BKD office or making a move to a new service area.

Sarah works mostly with sophomore candidates who typically intern during their junior year or senior semesters, so much of her time is spent keeping them engaged and building those relationships for long durations of time. By recruiting far in advance, candidates benefit from the opportunities to really get to know BKD and see if the firm and culture are a fit for their career. Candidates are sure to be introduced to BKD’s PRIDE values and commitment to Unmatched Client Service®.

Some of Sarah’s favorite recruiting experiences are facilitating EBKDs, the firm’s internal events focused on integrating candidates into BKD’s culture and the public accounting world. These events involve holding candidate interviews, connecting candidates with higher-level leadership, and introducing them to some of the staff. If a candidate is in the leadership program, they’re also introduced and familiarized with BKD’s tax and audit departments.

When heading into BKD’s recruiting process, Sarah urges candidates to go into it with an open mind. “There’s a lot to learn about the public accounting world, but our recruiters, partners, and staff are all there to have those conversations with you and help ensure BKD is the right fit.”

From workplace collaboration to wedding celebrations

Matt, Jerica, Sarah, and Kaylan on Sarah’s wedding day.

Matt, Jerica, Sarah, and Kaylan on Sarah’s wedding day.

One of the largest parts of Sarah’s job is working with other campus recruiters on BKD’s referral program, which means connecting interns with their preferred BKD office. She’s referred most to BKD’s Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver offices, but has referred students to almost every BKD recruiter. She also attends weekly and monthly calls to discuss current or upcoming recruiting seasons. In September, Sarah was assigned as a BKD buddy—a resource to offer support or information to new BKDers—to Rosie Prisco, New York’s newest campus recruiter, and immediately felt like they were friends. “I think it’s really easy to come into the campus recruiting team and feel at home,” she says.

Outside of workplace collaboration, multiple Snapchats and group conversations float around between the team where they talk about their personal lives and stay connected. Sarah and recruiters Matt Geyer and Kaylan Vrana are all currently working on home improvement projects, so many calls are dedicated to sharing that week’s horror or success story. In December, Matt, Kaylan, and Jerica Newby all made the trip from their offices in Chicago, Kansas City, and Wichita to attend Sarah’s wedding in Nebraska.

“I consider Sarah a tremendous colleague and knowledge bank for recruiting tips and tricks, but even more—she’s a friend,” says Matt.

When Sarah introduced Matt to high-achieving student populations in Nebraska who expressed interest in Chicago, it was a natural fit to begin programming together. “It’s a special thing when you can refer to your colleagues across the firm as true friends,” Matt says. “And it makes collaborating more impactful since you can better understand the dynamics of a recruiter’s needs and market.”

Although Sarah has been with BKD for nearly three years, she likely hasn’t gone a day, even weekends, without talking to at least one of her fellow campus recruiters.

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