Making the Cut for The Corp and GUASFCU
Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 02:09
Each year at the Student Activities Fair, students man over 100 tables on Copley Lawn, each station decorated with sign-up sheets, giveaways and baked goods. Students have the opportunity to window shop for their favorite club, volunteer organization or sports team.
But for the fresh faces sifting through countless emails and planning nights around a slew of general interest meetings in these first weeks back to campus, some neon fliers seem to shine a bit brighter than the rest: Two organizations boast an average “acceptance” rate of less than 10 percent, making The Corp and the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union more selective than Georgetown University itself.
GUASFCU, which wrapped up interviews and selection in the past week, accepted only 8 percent of applicants this fall. Vital Vittles, The Corp’s convenience store, hired only 11 of over 200 applicants in the most recent hiring cycle, which ended last Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Both organizations rival Harvard University’s 2011 acceptance rate of 6.7 percent. But when the goal is serving coffee at minimum wage or managing bank transactions without pay, what’s the point of enduring such a lengthy application process?
Something about the high standard that comes with low acceptance rates may have to do with it. To an outsider, this perceived exclusivity may seem a bit odd for a group of students who work as tellers and baristas, but as hundreds of applications flood each organization during hiring season, it becomes clear that the appeal lies in something extra: a select community that extends beyond the confines of the bank counter or cash register.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
“I’m really not that cool,” admits Alex Pon (COL ’12), president and CEO of The Corp. A self-proclaimed huge nerd, Pon applied in the fall of his sophomore year to the IT department, not expecting much. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll apply, if I get in that would be fantastic, but I’m not expecting too much.’ I realized that it’s pretty selective,” Pon said. Just two years later, Pon sits at the helm of a company that employs 240 proud students, reported a revenue of over $4.3 million last year and boasts one of the most notable names and logos on campus.
For GUASFCU CEO Katie Cohen (COL ’12), it was about the social connections. “I was trying to make friends,” Cohen said about applying to the credit union internship (GUAFSCU refers to their employees as interns since they are not paid) her sophomore year. Like Pon, Cohen now serves in the bank’s top leadership, balancing books with peak assets totaling over $16 million and a staff of over 100 students.
Learning to Work the Lingo
For GUASFCU, the interview process is modeled after a banking interview — Western business attire included. Candidates must submit a resume accompanied by essays explaining what they hope to gain and give back to the Credit Union, as well as an essay describing their problem solving skills. For the 223 potential interns this year, a little over 15 percent made it to a second-round interview. From that number, fewer than 20 freshmen and sophomores were up to snuff, receiving a final “offer” and joining the ranks of the student bank.
For The Corp, the initial online application includes questions for all applicants as well as prompts for students’ individual applications to any one of the nine Corp services, both internal and storefront. From the professional (“Tell us about a time you received perfect customer service.”) to the more lighthearted (“Tell us your most embarrassing story in all its grisly detail.”), the prompts target focus areas like work ethic and customer service skills, while touching on a potential employee’s ability to have fun, think creatively and keep a high energy level on the job.
Picking the Right People
In her role as The Corp’s director of human resources, Colleen Cacciabeve (COL ’12) oversees the hiring process for each of the company services. With hundreds of applications to review in a matter of days, the upper management of each service has to narrow down the field of applicants they will call back for an interview. “It depends on how competitive the applicants are and whether or not they seem qualified or would fit into store culture,” she said.
For Pon, interest and fit are driving factors in any decision to interview and eventually hire.
“We go to Georgetown — almost anybody can do a great job,” Pon said. “But we’re also looking for people who are just good people and who we want to be hanging out with. … Making coffee or taking out groceries is not a hard task, so there has to be some reason why students want to join The Corp.” He used the term “Corpfessional” to describe the ideal candidate: someone who can have fun on the job, but always keeps the customer as a first priority.