Ahhh summertime… The beach, the sun and no responsibility until the September start of the semester, right? Wrong… Years ago, campus recruiting began around October when companies came to schools in droves of career fairs and info sessions. It was a veritable career buffet of choices all laid before you. Oh, and if you happen to sleep through the fall, never fear; companies returned in the winter semester to woo you with an endless supply of analysts, associates and staff positions for the taking. But then something happened…
Company A thought “Hey, instead of October what if we came to campus in late September?” *BRILLIANT* Company A got first pick of all the students looking for jobs and was able to get the top talent. Not to be outdone, the following year, Company B said, “We’re really going to get a jump on Company A this year. We will come to campus in early September.” Guess what happened… Company B got all the best candidates! It became a ever-escalating arms race of who could come to campus first and get access to the top students. Soon thereafter, the winter semester became more of a bonus round and many companies only came back to campus IF (and only if) they had a surge of needs arise or if they did not fill all the positions in the fall (which became increasingly rare). So, when do companies come to campus, you ask?
ANSWER: We never leave. You do!
The reality is recruiting is a year-round activity all based on the relationships that students establish with companies (and companies establish with students). Companies spend enormous time and investments identifying great candidates and keeping in touch with them; and the earlier it happens, the better! It all comes down to continuous networking.
I always coach students to start showing up to career fairs, info sessions, company presentations, call outs, etc. freshman year. The goal is to establish a connection and a relationship with the company as early as possible. It’s never too soon to get to know a company. And that should not stop over the summer. Summer is a great time to keep in touch with all the people you met during the school year. Here are a few tips for getting a jump start on the fall recruiting rush:
- Email the people you met during the year and tell them what you are up to.
- Hop on the phone and discuss what is going on in the industry and ask for advice.
- Meet up for coffee or get together for lunch/dinner if you happen to be in the same city.
- Share articles or books you are reading.
- Schedule some time to meet on campus during the fall.
- Get in touch with people in the group, practice or area you are targeting and ask them for advice.
- Get in touch with recent grads who work for your target company and ask them for advice.
- Ask for advice on your resume.
Your measure of success should be: the people at your target company should know your name and something about you by the time you return to campus in the fall. And when you get back to campus, seek out the people you know, meet as many new people as you can and build a genuine connection.
So, to those of you hanging out, taking in the summer and enjoying the break, by all means, party on! But, when you get a chance, sit down and make a list of the companies you are targeting, the people you met during the year and start reaching out to them. If you don’t know anyone at the companies you are targeting, use your network, find out who you need to know and reach out. Family, friends and alumni are always a great place to start and ask for introductions. But, a note of caution: do your homework before going into the conversation. Find out about the company, the person with whom you are networking and be sure to ask good questions. Don’t forget that every interaction is a potential opportunity to impress your future employer.