A.J. Eckstein lived his college dream: he secured several internships with Fortune 500 companies and had a coveted post-graduation job lined up with Accenture. When the coronavirus spiraled the economy into a downfall and unemployment rates skyrocketed, Eckstein’s plans luckily stayed the same.
But in that time, Eckstein noticed many of his peers didn’t have the same fortune. Dedicated to creating opportunities for students navigating the uncharted waters of job recruitment amid the pandemic, Eckstein started the Career Coaching Company in April. Through resume building and behavioral coaching, Eckstein hopes to provide support for students in need. In just the past few weeks, he has already spent around 200 hours coaching students in need.
After transferring to USC as a sophomore, Eckstein graduated in May with a degree in business administration and had post graduate opportunities that he said he is extremely grateful for.
“I felt very fortunate when I graduated to still have a full-time job waiting for me,” Eckstein said. “When I graduated I really wanted to pay it forward a few months before I started my full time job.”
In an effort to give back on his success at USC and in the recruiting process, Eckstein started the Career Coaching Company with fellow Trojan graduates Pablo Alvarez, who serves as director of operations, and Elise Hernandez, the company’s marketing director.
The Career Coaching Company uses a one-to-one coaching model to help undergraduate students whose jobs were affected by the coronavirus navigate the recruitment process online. Eckstein said his background in consulting along with Alvarez and Hernandez’s knowledge of investment banking and commercial real estate, respectively, help the company work with a broader range of job seekers.
“Those are the three most sought after industries,” Eckstein said. “We came together and we really wanted to figure out the best way to help as many students who have been impacted by COVID, whether it was internships rescinded [or] jobs rescinded.”
The company began with solely Trojan alumni as career coaches, but Eckstein said he realized that students outside the realm of USC also needed help finding jobs in an economic downturn.
“Someone who has been through the [recruiting] process already and who can help someone try to get to where they want to be is extremely valuable,” Eckstein said. “To really break into these very competitive industries, to get into companies like the McKinsey’s of the world or the Goldman Sachs’, you really have to find the tips and tricks to break into them, and that’s what our coaches and myself really provide.”
Now with 10 coaches on the team, the Career Coaching Company heavily utilizes its Linkedin to market itself. After a student reaches out to the service, Eckstein pairs the student with a coach that can best help them reach their goals of working for Fortune 500 companies or successful consulting companies.
Kevin Rodriguez, a recent UNC Chapel Hill graduate, joined the team as a coach after Eckstein reached out to him via LinkedIn.
While Rodriguez has only been working for the Career Coaching Company for the past three weeks, he said he already feels as though he made a difference for at least one of his students, who felt unqualified to enter the job market.
Rodriguez said he helped edit the student’s resume and saw a change almost immediately.
“Seeing their confidence shoot up after one session … was definitely really meaningful and rewarding,” Rodriquez said. “I’m still working with that individual to get them to a place where they can confidently apply.”
Maria Wharton, a senior majoring in international relations global business, found the Career Coaching Company through LinkedIn and one of her peers who is a coach with the company. After a short call with Eckstein discussing her personal goals, strengths and weaknesses, Wharton scheduled 10 sessions with the company and said she hopes she can create a plan to achieve her personal goals of working on real-world business growth solutions, business technology integration and risk analysis.
With recruitment season approaching and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still affecting job hunting efforts, Wharton admitted she was unsure on how to apply for jobs.
“I’ve had a lot of companies email back saying they’re not recruiting for full-time positions right now,” Wharton said. “I definitely think [finding jobs will be through] either an alumni connection, a USC connection … I definitely think, because the pool is smaller, there’s less opportunity.”
Regardless of the limited positions, Wharton said that Eckstein’s easygoing and confident attitude helped in her job hunt.
“I feel like I gained knowledge and tools that I myself can tailor,” Wharton said. “I think overall, one, giving me confidence and two, the skills and tools to know what to do [and] where to look so I’m not just asking for help every step of the way. I can kind of gauge myself and ask for overall assistance. I think confidence was my main thing I got from the career coaching services.”
Eckstein said he and his team have already made important impressions on various students going through recruitment processes within USC and beyond.
“There is really no one there to help the student, hold their hand and walk them through exactly the best practices and strategies and tips and tricks,” Eckstein said. “We want to share our story and practices of breaking into these very competitive industries and getting great positions and jobs by helping as many students [as possible].”