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Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting

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Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 20:10
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One of the things I wish I had known going into recruiting was just how incredibly tough it can get - not just mentally, but physically and emotionally. I often heard "oh yea it sucks, but you make it through it" from a lot of folks but no one every really sat me down and laid it out for me. So I'm a gonna lay it out for you.

So fasten those lapstraps ladies and jellyspoons, its time to take a trip on the the magic carpet ride of hell, also known as MBA recruiting.

I know what you are saying, but rhyme, haven't you picked your worst to show us? Yes, sort-of, but its not dramatically different from any other week during the middle of recruiting season. That said, I do subscribe to the "show me the worst of it and the rest will seem manageable by comparison" mantra. Accept the below as a plausible week, and you'll be prepared for what to expect.

So with that in mind, I first present you a typical week during the pre-interview season. This is when you go to coffee chats, career services presentations, off-campus recruiting events, dinners, cocktail invitations, some invite only events, meet and greets, etc.

So what might a week there look like?

Image

To see the full size image, click here: http://img65.imageshack.us/img65/9329/c ... ntsio1.jpg

Red = some kind of event like those mentioned above
Gray = classes or class related stuff, eg meetings, or study sessions or deadlines
Green = unrelated social crap like going out for drinks (no, I don't normally put these on a calendar, but when dinners and such started creeping up with companies, I did, just to make sure I didn't double commit)

Ok, so thats not too bad... but as you can see, its still pretty crazy. Keep in mind that you really want to go prepared to these events - you cant well show up at a Bain event and ask them about their office in X, if they don't have an office in X. Nor can you walk into some firm and be like "So what are you recruiting for this year?" or "What do you do?" or "Where are your headquarters".... Keep that in mind when you look at that diagram. There's a lot of prep work inbetween those gaps that you have to do.

For an idea of what good prep for a firm is -- you should know:

* what they do
* office locations
* what their top 3 growth strategies are
* SWOT analysis
* recent media events / press releases
* names of school alumni at the firm
* have read the 10-k and recent analyst reports
* ideally, you should know the stock price the day of the event (seriously).
* market outlook for the industry
* the name of the CEO and other key executives. (You dont want to ask "So, who is Frank?")
* major competitors
* firm vision / mission
* have read the job posting in detail
* annual revenue, key divisions, number of employees, biggest office
* why you want to work there (this should probably be first)
* what specifically youve done that is relevant (dont be surprised when they ask you what you did before school.)

This is pretty deep, but if you are serious about a firm, this is the kind of knowledge it takes. Maybe not all of it at this stage, but certainly by the interview.

That said, recruiting itself is a bit tougher. Here's a week from February that I wasn't a huge fan of:

Image

Full size here: http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/9963 ... ingot5.jpg

A few things to highlight:

* Notice the number of interviews I had this week - 11. (some are actually two 30 minute interviews, so in reality, I had even more than those listed here).
* Notice that I also had two evening events.
* Those of you who are married, take note that this falls over valentine's day. Moral: set expectations with your significant other early.
* You may think this actually looks less busy than the pre-interview timeframe I showed above. Thats deceiving. This is actually a lot worse.

Preparing for these takes a lot more effort than for events. Its not uncommon for companies, especially corporate firms, to grill you on what you know about them. I've had firms straight out ask me if I read their 10-k, or "tell me everything you know about us", or even "given what you know about us, what do you see as our biggest threat in the market in the next 3 to 5 years and how would you mitigate that risk?" or "Describe to me what our different revenue streams are, and which you think are undergoing the most pressure now. Why?"Good luck swinging a bat at those questions if you haven't done your research. What you dont see here is the effort that goes into that prep. You'll also notice a lack of gray - studying isn't even on here because its just what I did at night. The day was always focused on interviews.

To give you an idea, actually think through a couple of those days: 9.30am interview followed by a 10.30 to 12 - thats two firms and probably 4 total interviews. That means I probably got to campus by 8, ate something, refreshed my memory on those two firms and went to the interview. Then at 12, I get a 30 minute break, then I do another two firms. At 2.30, I leave campus, drive downtown to make a 4pm offsite interview. I finish that around 5pm or 5.30, probably run some errand at 6pm, so I can make it to a pre-interview event (likely a dinner) by 7.30. Home around 9 or 10pm. Do any homework for Wednesday. Go to bed maybe round 12 or 1. Get up, get on campus at 8, go to class from 8.30 to 11.30. Go to lunch. Review notes for companies 7 and 8, try to do homework for Thursday. Go to those interviews, probably go home and change before next event at 7.30. Thursday, repeat with 2 more interviews....
And inbetween all this, you are waiting on calls from the firms you interviewed with to find out how things went! Stress!

* I had a midterm that week, ugh!
* There is absolutely noting social noted here. Don't be surprised if you become a hermit for a few weeks in the middle there.

Now, a few other tidbits:

1. But rhyme, what kind of 1@(# up interviews with so many firms? Yes, I had far too many interviews that week and I should have just canceled some. In the end I interviewed with something like 20 firms, but really should only have bothered with roughly 10 of them. Excluding 2nd round interviews, I probably averaged 5 interviews a week for about 4 weeks. That might sound easy, but keep in mind how much research is needed.

2. Banking recruiting is shorter and more condensed, but just as intense.

So, thats the beginning of what to expect.

Now to keep you guys from jumping off a cliff.... by comparison, my schedule now is much nicer:

Image

Note, I work all day Mondays (I dont work till 8pm, i just grayed the made the whole day red in case I stay late), gray is class related stuff, green is just drinks etc...

I'd write more now, but frankly, I'm a bit tired. If you guys have questions, let me know.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 20:33
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Rhyme, I honestly don't know how you can do all this.. you must be an incarnation of a greater deity or something.. Thanks alot!
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 20:50
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Rhyme...as i said last time.....a guide to time management would be a fitting capstone for all these awesome posts.
Seriously man..how do you do it? Is it something that one ends up mastering once in or does one need to be gifted?
Kudos...
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 22:31
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Brilliant stuff!

I have to map in some core times for family and kids for myself.
Don't think i will be as ambitious as you in hitting 20 companies.

Out of interest 10-k it's USA specific I guess, because its related to the SEC, so i assume there must be something similar for companies operating in different countries.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 07:25
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Damn rhyme, that's amazingly helpful. Thanks so much!
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 08:03
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Great post once again Rhyme!
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 10:18
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kk.iyer wrote:
Rhyme...as i said last time.....a guide to time management would be a fitting capstone for all these awesome posts.
Seriously man..how do you do it? Is it something that one ends up mastering once in or does one need to be gifted?
Kudos...


I think a guide to time management is really tricky to put together. Somehow everyone finds a method that suits them, and works accordingly (even if that involves writing an assignment in a 1hr lunch before a class at times). I could try and dig out one of my old schedules. For banking, for two weeks, I had something at 7am every day and something until 9pm, with a pretty full day around it. You really have to live through it simply reminding yourself that there is only a couple of really rough weeks, a lot of bad ones, and then some where it all gives in.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 11:58
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3underscore wrote:
kk.iyer wrote:
Rhyme...as i said last time.....a guide to time management would be a fitting capstone for all these awesome posts.
Seriously man..how do you do it? Is it something that one ends up mastering once in or does one need to be gifted?
Kudos...


I think a guide to time management is really tricky to put together. Somehow everyone finds a method that suits them, and works accordingly (even if that involves writing an assignment in a 1hr lunch before a class at times). I could try and dig out one of my old schedules. For banking, for two weeks, I had something at 7am every day and something until 9pm, with a pretty full day around it. You really have to live through it simply reminding yourself that there is only a couple of really rough weeks, a lot of bad ones, and then some where it all gives in.


Go for it.... post a week from your schedule, it would be interesting to compare.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 12:19
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A great post, rhyme.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 16:49
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rhyme,

Great post as always. Regarding the research that is required for events/interviews, do the industry-specific clubs (IB club, MC club, etc) have a collection of good info about the top firms that you can use, or are you basically on your own?
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 16:55
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rhyme wrote:
Go for it.... post a week from your schedule, it would be interesting to compare.


Here's my schedule from our interview week. Most of the IBs try to cram into the first week if they can.

Monday

9:00 - First Round Interview

10:30 - First Round Interview

11:45 - First Round Interview

1:00 - First Round Interview

2:00 - First Round Interview

3:15 - First Round Interview

Two of the BB banks had their second rounds this same evening. Fortunately, I requested a second round with a branch office, so I was able to accept the invite at put it off till the end of the week. Unfortunately, I had to turn down a second round invite to have dinner with one of my top choices.

8:00 - Dinner - had to choose between this, another dinner.

10:00 - Cocktails with another firm, had to show up a little late because of dinner.

-----

Tuesday

8:30 - Second Round Interview (second rounds are off campus, generally at a hotel, so you have to get yourself out there, and back)

10:45 - First Round Interview

11:45 - First Round Interview

1:30 - First Round Interview

2:30 - Second Round Interview

4:30 - Second Round Interview with my #1 choice. This was a grueling interview set, lasting 2 solid hours including a horrendous case that everyone told me they bombed (I was the last to go). Got the offer later that evening and returned for cocktails.

Since I got an offer from my top choice firm, I canceled of the rest of my schedule (had already accepted some second rounds which I told them I was keeping).

-----

Wednesday

3 Second round invites for today declined.

12:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

1:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

4:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

-----

Thursday

9:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

11:15 - First Round Interview *canceled*

2:30 - Flight to San Francisco for a Second Round Interview and to meet with the West Coast office of my top choice.

7:30 - Phone Interview *canceled*

-----

Friday

9:30 - Second Round Interview

12:00 - 4 hours of meetings with office of my #1 choice

1:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

3:00 - Second Round Interview *canceled*

-----

By Tuesday night, after a dozen first and second round interviews, dinner and cocktails, I was totally brain dead. I was so unbelievably happy to get an offer by the end of the second day. It would have been crushing if this had gone on for two or three weeks instead of just two days (all the banks pretty much show up by the third week). We were lucky in that they scheduled an open week just for interviews. In past years, students had two or three classes each morning prior to interviews all afternoon and evenings. Of course, recruiters for other types of jobs came later, mostly after the first week, so students interested in those jobs had the same challenge. I ended up dropping out and canceling a lot of stuff later on the in the week, but if I had kept on going, some of those canceled first round interviews would have turned into second round interviews, and if I had kept pushing there probably would have been additional first round interviews as well. A few of my friends kept at it for weeks, trying to get a specific firm or practice area. Grueling.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2008, 19:11
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It would have been crushing if this had gone on for two or three weeks instead of just two days (all the banks pretty much show up by the third week).


I went back to look, and not counting a couple random one-off phone screens, mine lasted about 3 weeks. As you predicted, it was pretty soul crushing.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2008, 04:22
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Thanks rhyme! This is probably one post I will have to come back to a couple of times.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2008, 11:19
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So you only work on mondays?

Great post... :-D
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2008, 14:44
Ha-ha-ha :) That almost made me jump out of my window! Great post! Thank you, rhyme.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2008, 07:23
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maverick2011 wrote:
rhyme,

Great post as always. Regarding the research that is required for events/interviews, do the industry-specific clubs (IB club, MC club, etc) have a collection of good info about the top firms that you can use, or are you basically on your own?


They have some basic info but you really need to do your own research too. The kind of stuff they offer is usually somewhat more focused in terms of pointing you to resources - eg the IM group will tell you to read book X, practice stock pitches, etc... MC folk will tell you to practice cases and provide you with some samples as well as links to books, etc... But really, you need to do your own homework.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2008, 14:11
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pelihu wrote:
rhyme wrote:
Go for it.... post a week from your schedule, it would be interesting to compare.


Here's my schedule from our interview week. Most of the IBs try to cram into the first week if they can.

Monday

9:00 - First Round Interview

10:30 - First Round Interview

11:45 - First Round Interview

1:00 - First Round Interview

2:00 - First Round Interview

3:15 - First Round Interview

Two of the BB banks had their second rounds this same evening. Fortunately, I requested a second round with a branch office, so I was able to accept the invite at put it off till the end of the week. Unfortunately, I had to turn down a second round invite to have dinner with one of my top choices.

8:00 - Dinner - had to choose between this, another dinner.

10:00 - Cocktails with another firm, had to show up a little late because of dinner.

-----

Tuesday

8:30 - Second Round Interview (second rounds are off campus, generally at a hotel, so you have to get yourself out there, and back)

10:45 - First Round Interview

11:45 - First Round Interview

1:30 - First Round Interview

2:30 - Second Round Interview

4:30 - Second Round Interview with my #1 choice. This was a grueling interview set, lasting 2 solid hours including a horrendous case that everyone told me they bombed (I was the last to go). Got the offer later that evening and returned for cocktails.

Since I got an offer from my top choice firm, I canceled of the rest of my schedule (had already accepted some second rounds which I told them I was keeping).

-----

Wednesday

3 Second round invites for today declined.

12:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

1:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

4:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

-----

Thursday

9:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

11:15 - First Round Interview *canceled*

2:30 - Flight to San Francisco for a Second Round Interview and to meet with the West Coast office of my top choice.

7:30 - Phone Interview *canceled*

-----

Friday

9:30 - Second Round Interview

12:00 - 4 hours of meetings with office of my #1 choice

1:00 - First Round Interview *canceled*

3:00 - Second Round Interview *canceled*

-----

By Tuesday night, after a dozen first and second round interviews, dinner and cocktails, I was totally brain dead. I was so unbelievably happy to get an offer by the end of the second day. It would have been crushing if this had gone on for two or three weeks instead of just two days (all the banks pretty much show up by the third week). We were lucky in that they scheduled an open week just for interviews. In past years, students had two or three classes each morning prior to interviews all afternoon and evenings. Of course, recruiters for other types of jobs came later, mostly after the first week, so students interested in those jobs had the same challenge. I ended up dropping out and canceling a lot of stuff later on the in the week, but if I had kept on going, some of those canceled first round interviews would have turned into second round interviews, and if I had kept pushing there probably would have been additional first round interviews as well. A few of my friends kept at it for weeks, trying to get a specific firm or practice area. Grueling.


Were these all bulge brackets? Or did you interview with smaller banks as well?

How technical were your interviews as a whole?
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2008, 20:37
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I know a little about pelihu's background, but not sure what type of background you have rhyme, but would these large amounts of interviews for IB be possible for someone that is a career switcher, and never having any finance related experience?

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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2008, 08:05
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terp06 wrote:

Were these all bulge brackets? Or did you interview with smaller banks as well?

How technical were your interviews as a whole?


All of the interviews on the first two to three days were bulge bracket banks. There's some system where firms that contribute the most to the school get to interview first. Banks dominate the first week, and the biggest banks and biggest recruiters come earliest.

Technical content varied. Some firms had a few questions in the first round, others grilled pretty hard in the first round. Some firms designated one (or more) of the second round interviews as technical, while another firm simply had a non-technical meeting with senior management for the second round. I did notice that firms varied the content of their interviews based on their opinion of the candidate. For example, one bank let me and a few others basically have a free pass on the technical portion in the first round (easy questions, questions about poker, things like that) because they had gotten to know us very well during recruiting and it seemed like they had pretty much moved us along to the second round already. I spoke with some others who interviewed with the same firm, but hadn't done as week during recruiting or had bid their way on to the interview list (as opposed to getting an invite) and they reported they were grilled hard for 30 minutes solid. It's pretty clear by the interview stage that most firms already know who their favorite candidates are. They might invite 15 to interview, and have another 5 bid their way on, but they've probably already made decisions on 2/3 of the people they will invite to the second round. The interview is definitely important, but the months of recruiting leading up to it are critical as well.
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Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2008, 22:34
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I had a somehow different experience due to my own decisions. Pretty stressful, if you ask me, but not necessarily because of a hectic schedule. This was my path (exaggerated a bit here and there for dramatism):

September - October: participate in some career planning workshop and tests. Come out with a strong fit with Entrepreneurship and (to a lesser extent) General Management (GM). Attend some industry specific presentations and strike down most industries from my list.
November: Consulting? IB? Nah, I won't attend those dinners. I should probably do a startup for the summer.
January: (the deadline to apply for interview week interviews): Decide to eliminate the following options: finance whatsoever jobs, consulting in general, healthcare focused companies, tech companies, media companies, jobs in my home region (what would that add to my resume?), positions that are a little too entry level for my pre-MBA experience, companies that do not require at least 2-3 years pre-MBA experience (why would I want to work at a position that could be filled by a 23 year old?), companies that do not sound prestigious enough, etc. I'm basically either "too good" (or too lazy towards the deadline which came in the middle of our winter break) for most positions, so end up applying to around 8-10 jobs: about 50% GM and 50% non-profits.

February: during interview week I was interviewed by about 5 firms, about 1 a day, pretty relaxed schedule (get up early, research, interview, research next day's, relax). That included interviewing with a couple of firms that "spammed" me into interviewing with them despite not having applied. Was interviewed by "dream firm" but did not get an offer. Get a few interviews outside of interview week later in the month.

March: most my friends have more than 1 offer in hand and I'm thinking about "how to rule the world" by getting involved in a startup. Fail to apply to any other jobs while considering startup options.

early April: talk to some people I know (from before B-school) about a startup with which they are involved that can interest me. Look into getting the school's funding for people working at startups or starting their own thing. Figure out that I need to write a business plan to do so, and that spending the summer writing a business plan is not what most people are doing at startups.

late April: talk to coaches, mentors the entrepreneurs at the startup and others and suddenly get cold feet about startups in general and the one I'm about to join in particular. Talk to the startup guys about doing a field study (i.e. research for class credit while school's going on) instead. Start shotgunning e-mails everywhere. Surprisingly, the job bank is still running deep despite it being late in the game.

mid May: school's about to end and I haven't been even invited to interview by anyone. Consider going the startup way (using personal funds for living expenses since the deadline for school's funding has passed and I did not submit anything). I start replying to e-mails from classmates and clubs sending along positions that need to be filled ASAP. Post resume in monster.com...

late May: get invited to two interviews in consecutive days (finally!). Both are strategy positions, both are interesting per se (i.e. they would have been interesting back in February).
One phone interview, one in person (local company).

early June (this week): get offers from both companies. Choose one, decline the other. YAY! I'm all set for the summer.

My learnings from the whole process:

- jobs can be quite hard to get if you have too many limitations in mind. However, I'm yet to meet anyone who has been unable to get an MBA-worthy summer job if they were willing to compromise to some extent.

Talking to some 2nd years, the few people that haven't found full time jobs are, for eg., the few students who are looking to get into a top-20 VC firm full time without much relevant experience and knowing that all those firms combined have only 10 post-MBA open positions. Or the few students who want a specific location, a specific industry and a specific function and aren't willing to compromise on any front. Or the really bad interviewers (those who get a lot of interviews but no offers). At the end of the day, 70% of MBAs change jobs within 2 years of graduation, so why not compromise a bit here and there in exchange for peace of mind? Note that compromising does not mean trading down from your pre-MBA job, it just means accepting something else than your ideal job. Not everyone needs to compromise, but some will have to.

- Brand can help. One of the offers I got was from a company that is relatively unknown to the general public (despite its being a leader in its particular niche) and almost completely unknown to the MBA crowd (aside from a job posting in the job bank), yet they were looking to fill a particular summer position from a couple of ultra elite / elite schools in the region but would not consider candidates from other schools in the area (a NE and a couple of NEF)

- Classmates can help. There's lots of e-mails flowing around with positions that someone gets from their network that get offered around. If you let people know you are still looking for jobs late in the game (this requires putting your ego aside), they can consider you for specific projects they are taking part in (I know of a friend who got an offer this way within 10 days from when his original option blew up).

- Career services never gives up. Quite late in the game (after I filled some poll showing that I was still looking for a job), I started getting personalized e-mails with recent postings and additional access to coaches and so on.

- Professors can help. Several professors are involved with various companies (consulting gigs, board, angel investor, etc.) and if you have a specific interest in a particular company they know, they can help you get an interview.

- Being an international and finding work in the US adds some complexity to the process but is far from being a major hurdle (at least for the summer). If you are an international, you probably need some extra time to get your paperwork in order before your internship and you won't be considered for all positions, but you will be far from limited. Full time may be a different story (don't know yet, but I'll let you know next year!).

Hope it helps.

L.
Re: Rhyme's Guide To What To Expect From Recruiting   [#permalink] 06 Jun 2008, 22:34
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