This month, I sat down with Katie Huber, the Campus Recruiter for the Redwoods Program at DaVita. DaVita, a Fortune 200 company, is a leading global provider of kidney care and one of the country’s largest operators of medical groups and physician networks. Their simple vision is to become the best healthcare provider the world has ever seen. Here’s what Katie had to say about life at DaVita, recruitment, and landing the job:
Q: Can you tell me a little about DaVita?
A: DaVita is a healthcare company. We started as a dialysis company in 1999 called Total Renal Care and in a dire financial situation. Then our current CEO was hired and turned things around by focusing on doing business the right way. Ten years later, we became the greatest dialysis company the world has ever seen. In 2012 DaVita acquired Healthcare Partners to expand beyond kidney disease and treat the whole patient, not just their kidneys. Our new vision is to become the greatest healthcare community the world has ever seen. And it’s all about pushing the envelope so we’re going to set big goals. And it’s all about pushing the envelope so we’re going to set big goals. In 16 yearswe’ve gone from near bankruptcy to a Fortune 200 company.
Q: What makes DaVita different than its competitors, especially in regard to what would be interesting for Northwestern students?
A: Our culture sets us apart. We create a community first and a company second. So we are a village not a company, and our CEO is the mayor, and all of our employees are teammates. There’s a ton of quirky things we do. We have call and responses and different cheers and yells that we do, which really makes it a fun environment. To have such a unique culture and do so well at business is a pretty unique combination.
Q: What kind of people come to work at DaVita?
A: We’re the largest employer of former Bain consultants in the country and the third largest for McKinsey. I think part of it is you have really bright people who work at DaVita who are just choosing to work on things that have more of an impact and also choosing a more balanced work style. So you don’t have to put in in 80 to 100 hours a week of work. We work on the person both personally and professionally.
Q: What do you look for in students for a job or internship?
A: They don’t have to have a healthcare background. We want people who have an interest and passion for making their work impactful, and then we’ll teach you everything you need to know about healthcare. We are looking for people who are very intellectually curious, who are really bright, and who will drive our business forward. Leadership is also really important to us because we want people to come in who will be leaders and respected in the village.
Q: What’s one thing in interviews that students can do really wrong that you’ve seen over and over again?
A: Not being self aware. That’s something that’s really important to us. We test a lot for emotional intelligence. So having that awareness about how you present yourself, how you answer the questions, and thinking about why you’re telling this story is really important to us and could be a huge “yes you’re hired” or “this is not a right fit.”
Q: What’s the best advice you have for students going through the recruiting process?
A: They’ve got to practice and know who we are. The “Why DaVita” question is really important and if you don’t have a good answer to that it can sometimes be a deal breaker for us. The main thing is developing and refining your problem solving framework.
Q: What makes Northwestern students especially suited for careers at DaVita?
A: We have a really good relationship with Northwestern as well as Kellogg. We find a really good mission and values fit and high quality students who are really going to come in and drive. We have really good retention with Northwestern students, and we see them doing really well in the village.
Q: Can you tell me about the summer internship program?
A: My favorite thing about the summer internship is seeing the personal development within the students in those ten weeks. Sometimes it’s just night and day who they become, which is pretty cool. There is also great project work that they can put on their resume. Last summer we implemented 80 percent of our student projects into real life business. I think a huge selling point for the undergrads is that they are completely integrated with the MBAs, so they kind of become mentors for them and can talk to them about business school and jobs. Every intern is eligible for a job offer at the end of the internship. There is no quota; if you earn it you get it.
Q: What should do you look for in students during on campus recruiting events, such as info sessions and coffee chats?
A: Nonverbal communication during info sessions is huge to me. So things like making eye contact and not looking at your phone is so important. Especially if you’re not asking a question, if you seem engaged that’s huge to me. There are plenty of times where I’ll see students looking at their phones and just looking uninterested. Just realizing that we observe everything, so the minute you walk into the room, you’re interviewing.
Q: What else do you want students to know about DaVita?
A: I think the biggest thing about DaVita is we are one of the largest Fortune companies that no one really knows about unless you’re in healthcare or had a family member who was on dialysis. It’s so neat though because I get to see students get to know us, come to work for us, and realize this amazing career path that they can have and the development they can receive. I think a lot of people think they have to go to the consulting track, and I think it’s a great option for a lot of people, but it’s also not for everyone. And if you want that same caliber of work which sets you up for success, that’s DaVita.