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Bentley University Students Get a Crash Course in Corporate Culture
A group of Bentley students found out that finding the right job goes beyond “location, location, location” during visits to companies in the heart of Boston — and outside of the city limits. Part of the university’s Business in Boston program held in January, the one-day field trip helped them discover how corporate culture — values, attitude and atmosphere — and the right kind of job can make or break the work day.
“It was an opportunity for students to get a better feel for differences in company cultures and environments and the kinds of opportunities available,” Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Career Services Amanda Helfand says of visits to Arnold Worldwide and Havas Media (Boston); Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Burlington); and TripAdvisor (Needham). “It was incredible to see students open their minds to companies that they had never considered because of expectations about a company’s size or location.”
It’s not surprising, given that Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain said that “the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company,” in the Harvard Business Review article “What Matters More to Your Workforce than Money.”
While students often hear about company culture in the classroom, experiencing it in the workplace was eye opening.
“I never realized how much these companies care about their employees,” says junior Computer Information Systems major Sean Fitzgerald, noting perks like free lunch for TripAdvisor employees. “Also, all of the companies were very different from each other —culture and employees — and I realized how important it can be to visit a company before blindly accepting a position from them."
Senior Kendra Zdanowski, a Creative Industries major, says she was surprised by how much Salesforce stood out for her. “They initially made us feel welcome by having us shoot various videos for their Snapchat, which was fun. The first speaker gave us a lot of career tips in addition to explaining her role, which was extremely helpful.”
At Salesforce, students heard about managing a large organization, tips to effectively collaborate with a manager, and how to tackle the learning curve of a new position (writing and speaking skills are important). Students also gained insight into the company culture, which includes designated time off for volunteering, wellness reimbursement and mindfulness programs.
During the company visits, students also learned how office design lends itself to workday flow. At Arnold/Havas, for example, an open floor plan (no walled cubicles) promotes collaboration, teamwork and creativity, with a culture “marked by optimism, curiosity and a focus on results.” A café provides a more informal space to talk or take a break.
“One of the coolest parts was the TV screen they have to be able to communicate with a different department. There is a cup and a string attached to the wall (with a microphone in it, of course) that employees can use to communicate with the people on screen,” says Zdanowski. “It is a really creative and fun way to talk to people in other areas of the building.”
In addition to exploring the scope of roles in an agency, students got a glimpse into projects for clients like Pizza Hut. An important takeaway about landing an agency job, according to folks at Arnold/Havas, is to do an internship and get a feel for the pace and environment.
“First-hand experiences are important to get a feel for the company, or type of company, you're looking to work for,” says senior Marketing major Molly Gross (who currently holds an advertising agency internship). “Looking at office and company culture can inspire you to start applying, or deter you and lead you down another path."
The company culture at TripAdvisor has an international flair reflective of the millions of travel reviews on its travel website. Free lunch for all employees in the on-site cafeteria, five days a week, includes foods from different cultures. (The theme when students visited was Mediterranean.) The offices include a game room with shuffleboard, ping pong and video games, a 3,000-square-foot fitness facility, and a fire pit. And, it’s a dog-friendly.
Fun, games and good food aside, company culture is as much about values as perks — particularly when it comes to recruitment. TalentCulture reports, “It will become more and more important for companies to build positive, transparent, and trusted cultures in order to attract talent.” Creating a meaningful culture also impacts retention and performance, according to Forbes. “A quick glance at history tells you that cultural pride, inside a workplace or outside of it, is a tremendously powerful force to leverage.”
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.