by Pattie GiordaniNACE Journal, September 2013
Prudential wanted to explore more opportunities to grow and
develop talent and future leaders by creating ways to attract
college freshmen and sophomores to the firm, thus feeding its
intern and college recruiting.
Prior to 2000, Prudential had a robust, centralized campus
recruitment program. After going public in 2001, the firm
experienced some organizational changes. From 2001 to 2007 staffing
was outsourced, meaning campus recruiting was owned by the business
"In 2007, the company started to return to a centralized campus
recruitment function," says Cristina Rodriguez, campus recruiting,
Prudential. She adds that the campus recruiting team faced some
The team gained support for the campus program from the business
lines by developing consistent and detailed metrics aligned with
business objectives, telling the story through data, demonstrating
measurable results, and showing the value of campus recruiting
The campus recruiting team developed a campus recruiting
strategy to identify, attract, and hire top college students to
feed the firm's leadership pipeline. Supporting that strategy were
Campus recruiting engaged the business and corporate departments
in exploring more opportunities to grow and develop talent by
focusing on internship headcounts and trends, and developing
full-time hire forecasts.
"The actuarial group took the lead on these programs," Rodriguez
says. "They knew every employee should support the programs-it's
not just staffing's issue. There's ownership at all levels and that
will help us reach our goals."
Any organization interested in developing such a strategy should
consider the scale and sustainability of the programs, know its
position brand perception in the marketplace, and learn from other
companies that have launched similar programs.
Eventually, Prudential developed two initiatives, the Peak
Leadership Conference and the Actuarial Success Awareness Program
(ASAP), to identify and build relationships with undergraduates. In
addition to fueling the talent pipeline, the programs also tie in
with the organization's overall diversity goals.
Criteria for both programs are similar. Candidates must be a
freshman or sophomore in a four-year undergraduate program, have a
3.0 GPA, and have a strong interest in financial services or a
business career. The program also has a focus on the diverse
student population (i.e., women, persons of color, veterans).
"Started in 2012, the Actuarial Success Awareness Program (ASAP)
is a one-week program that introduces diverse mathematics or
actuarial science students to an actuarial career and provides
financial support through scholarships and funded programs,"
"Our actuarial group wanted to be proactive to ensure they have
the diversity that corresponds with Prudential's diversity and
inclusion policy." So the firm partnered with Spelman College, a
strong HBCU with a focus on math and sciences, and built a
relationship with one of the math professors. A Prudential
representative went into the classroom to speak about actuarial
careers. In addition to the one-week conference, there is a paid
internship and scholarship.
The program offers students exposure to actuarial exam
preparation, job shadowing and professional skills training
sessions, team building and social activities, mentoring related to
education, and career advice. Since its inception, Rodriquez says
Prudential has made a few changes to the ASAP.
"Participation increased because we decided to use Peak
overflow. ASAP had eight attendees in 2012, and four of them
received an offer for internship," she explains "Our chief actuary
officer advocates for early talent-actuarial also took two of the
'Peakers,' leveraging the candidate pool from Peak."
The mission of the Peak Leadership Conference is to provide
underrepresented candidates early exposure to Prudential, its
business, and potential career paths. During the three-day
conference, the firm raises awareness of Prudential as an employer
and begins to build relationships with these students.
At Peak, students are introduced to senior leadership, informed
about career paths within the firm, helped to understand their own
leadership potential, and given direct access to internship
opportunities. Activities include lunch with mentors, a welcome
dinner, and a breakfast with an upperlevel official. There are also
workshops on personal branding, networking, business etiquette,
interviewing, and resume building. A business case about Prudential
is also presented.
In 2013, a day was added to the program (in the first year, it
was a two-day conference). "Participants indicated adding another
day would allow them more time to network with executives and
campus team," Rodriguez explains.
"Participants' interview skills were assessed and they
experienced business etiquette during meals-many upperlevel
executives participated in those events. We added 10 more students
(from 40 to 50) in 2013," Rodriguez says. Those 50 students were
from 33 different colleges from across the country.
"Also, we include the goal of teaching financial literacy.
Millennials may not be prepared for retirement, it's something they
don't think about," she adds. "We offer a session in layman's terms
in both the ASAP and Peak Conference to ensure they're saving and
thinking about the future."
Rodriguez adds that Peak is a strong pipeline for the firm's
internship program, which comprises 150 to 175 interns each
Prudential set high, but reachable, goals in the first year of
"We are tracking the amount of applicants that we receive and,
then how many of them actually do get converted to full-time
hires," Rodriguez says. "The goal for Peak in 2014 is 40 percent,
and right now  we're at 24 percent."
She says the ASAP goal is a little higher; the recruiting team
wants to see at least 50 percent of participants receive an
internship at Prudential.
The recruiting team also surveys Peak participants, the results
of which contributed to extending the program to three days.
"Feedback is a gift," Rodriguez says. "They told us they wanted
more information along with in-person interviews."
Over the course of the two years that the programs have been in
existence, 12 students out of 88 have received internships.
Rodriguez is optimistic that these numbers will increase for each
For ASAP, the team expanded the search to Howard University and
included Peak applicants to help increase the number of
"We also focus on spring freshman and sophomore events, attend
freshman experience classes, and set up a monthlong Facebook ad for
the programs," Rodriguez says. "We also leverage our existing
employees—those in various Business Resource Groups, such as Asian,
Black, Hispanic, and/ or LGBT—they could refer a child or others in
Rodriguez says that some of the highlights of ASAP include 100
percent diversity, as well as all female participants the first
"In 2013, we opened up the programs to other universities
besides Spelman, still 100 percent diverse but now 50/50
gender-wise," she says. "We had an influx of applicants,
applications increased by 100 percent (200 in 2013, 400 in 2013).
The actuarial group interviewed, screened and selected the
And just because a participant is no longer in the program, he
or she will still be considered for an internship. "Once a 'Peaker'
always a 'Peaker,'" Rodriguez says. "The 2012 class will still be
considered. We already have that pipeline so we might not have to
go to schools. Our feeling is before recruiters go on campus, they
have to look at the Peak participants. And the actuarial group is
on board with that."
Prudential's programs are still relatively new, but with the
buy-in from top leaders and the promising initial feedback and
conversion to intern numbers, the recruiting team is confident of
future success as well.
Pattie Giordani is an associate
editor at NACE. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. All rights reserved.
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