Monday, February 25, 2013

Booth On-Campus Interview Week: The Superbowl of Recruiting

The Winter Quarter is such a busy time for first-year students because most are interviewing through the on-campus program for internships. This week, Matthew Richman gives a first-hand perspective of what the investment banking interview process is like.



We huddled together, nervously clutching our leather portfolios, adjusting ties and name tags, and spending one last minute going over the finer points of corporate valuation. Suddenly, with a pronounced “click,” a nearby door opened and a head poked out.

“Matthew? We’re ready for you.”

I bid farewell to my classmates and entered the interview room.

Over the past few weeks, this scene has repeated itself over and over again on the second floor of the Harper Center. Beginning in mid-January, hundreds of companies—recruiting for roles from consulting to banking, marketing to investment management—have traveled to Hyde Park to conduct interviews with Booth students. One of Booth’s strengths is the relationships that Career Services maintains with some of the most sought-after firms around the world, as well as smaller boutique firms and startups—and the affinity that alumni at these firms have for Booth job-seekers.

Moreover, the on-campus recruiting process means that Booth students can interview with a variety of firms, all in one place. I saw the benefits of this arrangement in my own recruiting for investment banking. The banks were the first firms to come to campus in January, and spent a week conducting first round (and often final round) interviews in the Harper Center’s dedicated interview suite.

Interviews were stressful. After a long four-month recruiting and networking process, it would come down to 30 minutes. Would the interviewer be the one person we didn’t meet at the firm? Would he or she be having a bad day? Would one misstep or interview flub flush months of hard work down the drain?

After the first rounds concluded each day at 4:30pm, many firms conducted final round interviews the same evening. We were often told to wait for a phone call inviting us to the next round. We milled about the Winter Garden, obsessively checking our phones. All of the sudden, the calls would begin. Being one of the less fortunate candidates was tough, but on the flipside, getting that call for the final round was exhilarating; even more so was the late-night follow up call, often on the way home, from potential future colleagues with good news about a summer offer.

To be prepared for these pressures, we had plenty of help from Career Services, and crucially, our fellow classmates. During winter break, students got together in groups to grill one another on case studies or accounting technical questions. I didn’t expect to spend my holiday break camped out at the Gleacher Center with classmates for hours each day, sweating the finer points of the financial statement impact of a $10 increase in depreciation expense—but it really paid off when it came time for interviews.

Second-year MBA students were critical in sharing insights from their interview experiences, and helped us with mock interviews informally or as part of Career Services’ Interview Training Program, where we got formal feedback and a video of our performance.

The bottom line is that Booth’s on-campus recruiting and interviewing provides students an incredible opportunity to be part of the one-stop interviewing shop for interesting companies. One can’t overstate the convenience and advantage that comes from being able to spend a week in the Harper Center being considered for many of the different positions for which we applied, with no more travel than the ten feet between interview rooms. After the first round was conducted on campus, some firms flew candidates to their offices for a final round. However, in my case, apart from visiting the firm in New York during Bank Week, the internship I ultimately secured didn’t require that I even leave Hyde Park, since the firm came to campus in October for recruiting and also conducted first and final rounds here.

Of course, in addition to on-campus recruiting, Booth students can apply for some of the thousands of job postings from companies that are interested in hiring Booth talent, but either lack the recruiting resources to come to campus or need to wait until later in the spring to assess their hiring needs.

When considering a business school, it is important to evaluate its on-campus recruiting capabilities to ensure that you’ll be best positioned for your ideal job. At Booth, there is something for everyone in terms of function and sector. While this stage of my career transition to investment banking has required a tremendous amount of hard work, Booth—with its amazing Career Services team, collegial students, and dedicated alumni—provided me all of the resources to successfully land an exciting internship with a firm that is a great fit for me.
Matt Richman Matthew Richman UPenn TCNJ booth

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