E-Recruiting is one of those phrases you hear tossed by upperclassmen as a freshmen. They bemoan it, love it, hate it, need it. And as a freshmen, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. But, once you hit sophomore year, that word “e-recruiting” is on everyone’s lips.
Some start early and fast — attending the recruiting sessions for SENIORS as sophomores during the first week or so of September. Others realize belatedly that deadlines start as early as mid-reading period for the first semester!
Here are a few tips for surviving e-recruiting (as it pertains for those searching for internships).
E-Recruiting definition: The process by which companies who interview on campus recruit interns (new hires). Financial services, i-banking and consulting are strongly represented.
1) THINK OUTSIDE OF E-RECRUITING EARLY.
You’ll be tempted to put all your eggs in one basket, but you need to remember that this basket is held by a picky mother hen who tosses out 75% of eggs, ponders the other 25% and eventually keeps 25% of that. (In other words, 1/4 are interviewed, 1/4 interviews result in an internship offer.)
You might realize that a rather large chunk of your upperclassmen friends are NOT working in a Top 50 E-Recruiting company. While we all fancy ourselves special because we are Harvard students, let’s take some insurance out on this one.
The ones who get asked back again and again without fail are the (soul-selling) math concentrators. If you are not a math concentrator and you do not have some sort of other attribute that would bring your business sexiness to that of a math concentrator’s, you MUST consider other options outside of e-recruiting BEFORE e-recruiting starts.
Harvard is on a weird recruiting cycle. Many non-e-recruiting internships have deadlines in December (while others drag on until March or April). While it seems strange to be hedging your bets so early on, you need to remember that by the time you get an accurate sense of where you stand in the e-recruiting applicant pool, you’re already behind for outside internships.
2) Understand the dress code.
Nothing is more awful than going to a JP Morgan information session in a jean skirt and flip flops. Don’t do it. No need to dress as you would for an interview, but you need to look nice and professional. For any over-eager rising sophomores, use this time to shop for some blouses/shirts and suits.
3) Understand the industries.
I know that when I was first starting out, I would have been hard-pressed to explain what consultants/i-bankers do. Read up on them. Or even better, ask OCS or a friend.
4) Just finalize your resume damnit.
Around November, you should be polishing your resume. If you’re going to play e-recruiting hardball, do not nag OCS to proofread your resume in early January. Instead, nag OCS earlier on when the lines are shorter.
Key take away. Nag OCS. These people are the PROS.
5) Proofread your resume damnit.
I’m not going to expose my resume mishap that I sent to maybe 20 or so companies in the world, but get your English concentrator friend to wield the red pen to detect the “this makes me look like an idiot” mistakes.
6) Stop comparing yourself to your peers.
This is the tough one. Be nice. Help others if they ask. Be warned, however, that the e-recruiting process is sort of like the pre-med experience. You’re all over-achievers competing against each other, so things might get a little tense.
Just relax. Don’t worry too much about what other people have to offer, and focus on what you have to offer and the best way you can leverage that.
7) Figure out your contingency plans.
The lucky ones generally do not know that they are lucky until March. The really unlucky ones know in February.
Study abroad deadlines are due last week of January. A number of grants are due January and February. Professors generally don’t look for research interns until school comes to a close.
While there are definitely internship opportunities left in February/March/April, the great proportion are no longer accepting applicants. It’s disheartening visiting site after site and seeing that the deadlines have passed.
So, start early and figure out your plan B if e-recruiting and your non-e-recruiting attempts all don’t pan out. This is particularly important for sophomores since most internships are actually geared toward juniors.
To get a better sense of things, check out OCS’s yearly summer survey.
8) OCS will not hold your hand.
OCS is a fantastic resource, but they are not the magic bullet. They will direct you to amazing resources that Harvard and beyond has to offer, but ultimately, you will be the one responsible for figuring out deadlines and initiating contact.
For those who had amazing guidance counselors, do not get discouraged. All Harvard students pretty much find something pretty awesome to do. Some of it, definitely, requires initiative — aka, reaching out to micro-finance firms in India via email to see if they would be interested in having interns.
But hey — OCS is teaching us to fish. Let’s remember that.
9) Reiteration: There is a world beyond e-recruiting.
For instance, many of your Fortune Top 100 companies do not recruit on campus. Marketing/Advertising firms do not recruit. The entertainment industry would cackle at the thought of recruiting on campus. That local design firm back home ain’t gonna trek to Harvard. Most volunteering/political organizations should not recruit on campus because their resources should be spent elsewhere.
You can start up your own business. Backpack Europe. Start pondering your thesis topic. And volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
E-recruiting, as OCS will tell you, is not for everyone. E-recruiting is also not for everyone who wants e-recruiting anyway.
10) If you are a newly admitted student…
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT E-RECRUITING. Please don’t. There are maybe a handful? of spots in ALL of e-recruiting that might open their arms to a freshman (and these are special cases, sometimes involving nepotism).
Don’t be that freshmen who signs in on McKinsey’s sheet with the year 2012 as their class. You have bigger Harvard fish to fry first.
Disclaimer: Obviously, not every bit of advice given will apply to every person, but this advice was meant to be applicable for that solid 50-75% of people in the middle of the applicant pool. There are always exceptions, but not everyone is an exception.