By: Timaj Yusuf, '18

Graduate Molly Collins, ’16, had the opportunity to job shadow and intern with alum T.R. Straub, ’06, Vice President of Heyman Associates, through the Office of Alumni & Career Services’ Spider Shadowing program. This program gives students the opportunity to participate in half- or full-day job shadowing experiences during winter and summer breaks.

Heyman Associates is an executive search firm that companies and organizations hire to help them find skilled employees. “We manage the recruitment process and help them fill senior roles,” Straub explained.

Many students have never heard of executive search firms or rarely think about recruitment as a potential career path. However, it’s important to know that there are many opportunities available in this field for students.

“I was a senior leadership studies major at UR and I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Collins said. “The shadowing experience and internship with Heyman Associates helped narrow my thoughts.”

“I didn’t know much about the recruitment process until Spencer Stuart—a global executive search firm— came to campus, and did an Information Session. I looked more into it and found the Spider Shadowing opportunity with Heyman Associates and applied.” Collins said. “I had no experience.” The Spider Shadowing program does not require students to have any experience in order to participate in a shadowing opportunity.

“(Recruiting) is not something a lot of [college students] know exists,” Straub said. “I stumbled into the field. I graduated from Richmond as a leadership studies major and ended up being recruited by Teach for America (TFA). A few years after teaching, I did recruitment for TFA and one of my friends from Richmond introduced me to this firm.”

Many students believe that direct experience in their desired field is the only factor that determines whether they land the internship. However, Straub said experience is only a small part of the equation.

“We don’t expect people to come in with [recruiting] experience, but we want to know that there is a genuine interest in the work that we are doing,” he said.

After the shadowing opportunity, Straub offered Collins a post-graduation summer internship with Heyman Associates.

“Molly was very curious about the work that we do” Straub said. “The reason we asked [her] to come and intern for us is that through the shadowing experience, we saw how engaged, prepared, and professional she was.”

“Shadowing with Heyman Associates showed me that executive search is what I want to do.” Collins said. “It gave me more hands-on experience.”

Both Straub and Collins’ career paths demonstrate that finding a job is not always a linear process. One opportunity can lead you to careers and fields you didn't know existed. Spider Shadowing opportunities provide easy ways for you to explore the unknown and try out industries with which you are unfamiliar. Maybe, like Collins, you’ll find just the right fit!