Getting a Head Start at LAU

Beyond the university’s dedicated Career Development Services and countless professional opportunities, students have been helping their peers through club events and initiatives.

By Raissa Batakji

One of the recent campaigns from the Career Development Office.
High student attendance at one of the Consulting Club’s workshops.

Last fall, global consulting firm Kearney gave a well-attended recruitment presentation at the LAU School of Engineering, which resulted in five full-time jobs for engineering seniors, who will go on to work as Business Analysts at the company’s Dubai office. They are only a few of the many LAU students who benefit from unique, invaluable opportunities to kickstart their careers, whether through the host of services offered by the Career Development Office or through the help of their peers.

The reality is that navigating the demands of an ever-changing competitive job market, at the best of times, is a challenge for students. And in Lebanon, it is not getting easier. Against the backdrop of political deadlock, a pandemic and persisting financial and economic crises, Lebanese youth unemployment reached 47.8 percent in 2022, according to a United Nations Development Programme report.

Well before then, however, preparing students for professional life has been an integral part of an LAU education “starting on the day they join the university and continuing well past their graduation,” said Lead Director of Student Services on the Byblos campus Zeina Trad Barakat.

During their first year, students can sit for the Strong Interest Inventory, an assessment that helps them match their interests to a major and possibly a minor. This sets them on track to thrive and flourish within a field they can feel connected to.

“We meet with students on a regular basis to help them identify the career path compatible with their major, draft their resumés, and mentor them on job search strategies,” explained Director of Student Services on the Beirut campus Joseph Waked. This type of mentorship is conducted in one-on-one sessions with career guidance specialists who attend to students’ career inquiries, needs and concerns.

Throughout their university years, students are regularly invited to professional development workshops that offer hands-on tools, such as setting up a LinkedIn profile and CV and cover letter writing. Juniors and seniors attend recruitment presentations where local and international company representatives share industry insights and information on required qualifications and the recruitment process.

Every spring, LAU’s large-scale Career and Internship Fair hosts leading companies from across industries to both campuses. This event features on-site job interviews, recruitment presentations and industry panel discussions. Students and alumni also get year-round access to the JobTeaser-LAU International Career Portal, a global recruitment multi-feature online platform that students can use to gain career knowledge, connect with advisors, and access career advice.

Though the pandemic and the economic crisis have taken a toll on recruiters locally and globally, the Career Development Office swiftly moved its services to online delivery. “We wanted to make sure that students were still able to have all the guidance they needed, even if they had to stay at home,” noted Barakat.

Realizing the importance of professional networking, the Career Development Office regularly collaborates with the Alumni Relations Office to identify alumni who can connect students to internships and career opportunities in their respective fields. They have also hosted numerous events and talks by alumni who introduced curious students to a line of work and painted a realistic picture of what certain career paths entail.

On a smaller but equally effective scale, students have been active in raising their own employability prospects in recent years. A growing number of professional student clubs, such as the Consulting, Mathematics, Pre-Med, Computer Science, Bioinformatics, Data Analytics, Finance, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Chemistry, Investment and Marketing clubs have been hosting interactive sessions and workshops with recruiters, alumni and company representatives to help promote internships and career opportunities to their peers.

Most recently, the Consulting Club invited alumnus and Lead Associate at Strategy& Middle East Samer Al Rayess (BE ’17) to give a workshop on consulting. Following the event, several students were successfully recruited by top consulting firms.

Club Treasurer Antonio Chedid and President Yara Ballan are committed to “helping fellow students break into the consulting industry.” Apart from the bootcamp, the club had hosted more than 15 workshops in the past four years, and amassed over 80 case studies and preparatory resources in their database. They have also connected with 70 LAU alumni in the industry.

“The sense of ownership among its members gives the club a distinctive feature when compared to a formal university service,” explained Chedid and Ballan, highlighting how this dynamic has given students’ first-hand experience in the recruitment process and unmatched exposure to the industry.

Another shining example of a successful student-led initiative is the Case Competition, now a yearly tradition at LAU where students are exposed to real-world business cases and receive feedback and mentorship from top firms.

The abundance of career development opportunities has been on the rise, as confirmed by the office. “We are also tailoring our services to help recruiters meet our talented pool of students and graduates,” added Waked, pointing to the employer webpage that facilitates companies’ access to the LAU community.