How to Navigate the World of Employer Information Sessions
First years, now that you have survived the White Party and strutted down Walnut Walk, the EISs are sneaking up on you. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Some amazing second years gave us insightful tips on how to extract the most value out of these events and remain sane while doing it.
Focus, Prioritize and Prepare
- Be Focused – Know what industry or companies you want to recruit for and stick with them. They might change as you undergo this process but that should be an individual decision. Don’t give in to FOMO and go to that McKinsey session just because 300 other Wharton students are going.
- Prioritize – Create a list of target companies that you really, really want to work for and devote all your energy to them. Then, have a second-tier group that you are also interested in. Companies often have events at the same time so you will have to decide which ones are most important to you.
- Do Your Homework – Visit career services and join the relevant professional clubs to establish a base knowledge of your industry of interest. Talk to second years, alums and peers who have prior experience in that sector. These chats will help you differentiate yourself from other candidates by personalizing your interactions during the EIS and helping your cover letters and interviews stand out. When engaging in these conversations, keep the following tips in mind:
- In addition to learning about the technical aspects of the job, try to gain a sense of the culture of the firm (specific offices) and the people.
- Don’t discount others’ experiences because you think that it won’t happen to you. Put your ego aside and really listen.
- If you are coming from a non-traditional background or are a career switcher, look at the holes in your resume and figure out how you can address them.
- Develop Your Pitch – Do some soul-searching and figure out exactly why you want to go into a particular industry. Craft a story that links your previous background to your future goal. It does not have to be complicated, but it does have to be logical, realistic and—most importantly—authentic to you.
During the EIS
- Don’t Freak Out – We know it’s nerve-racking, and we know there’s a lot on the line, but stressing out does not help. Try putting things in perspective. You go to Wharton. You will get a good job. And there will always be other EISs. Most recruiters are MBAs, probably went to Wharton and were once in your shoes, so they understand. Relaxing will help you come across as more confident and perform better.
- Be Genuine – Be yourself, and you will be more comfortable. Don’t put on a façade because you think that’s what the recruiters want to see. You have something unique to bring to the table and that will differentiate you from others.
- Be Critical – The goal of the EIS is not only for you to connect with the recruiter, but also for you to get a more in-depth understanding of the firm. Keep in mind that you are also interviewing the company. Pay close attention to the culture and the people and figure out if you really do want to work there.
- Be Proactive – Take initiative, introduce yourself to the recruiters and demonstrate interest. Don’t chat with your friends and wait for recruiters to come to you. If possible, try going to the events a bit early so you can catch the company representatives before the sessions start. Stay focused and be mentally present. Ignore the million other things that are weighing on your mind.
- Don’t Ask Stupid Questions – Smart questions will leave a good impression. Make them specific to the company or role and incorporate current events when relevant. Don’t do the following:
- Ask the same question at different company events. People will notice.
- Ask questions just to talk. It’s a waste of time.
- Ask about things that can be found on the company’s website. Do your homework.
- Ask superficial questions such as “how are the hours.” Show some insight!
- Be Professional and Courteous – Whatever you do, do NOT elbow others. Don’t be overeager and aggressive. The recruiters will notice, as will your classmates at the EIS. This is not the time to damage your personal brand. Have some social awareness and treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Be Cooperative, Not Competitive – Try not to think of the other students in the room as competition. Help others, and they will reciprocate.
- Don’t Monopolize Recruiters – Spend some quality time with a recruiter and then move on. Do not dominate the conversation; let other classmates talk as well. Also, don’t just target the most senior people in the room. Not only will you have to try that much harder to get their attention, but it can also be more productive to talk to more junior representatives. They are often equally involved in the decision process and present lower-risk interactions where you can ask questions and be more at ease.
- Stay Organized – Depending on how many EISs you attend, you will probably meet a significant number of people. If perfect memory isn’t your strength, keep a simple Excel document and track who you have met from what company and what you talked about. You never know when that information will become relevant.
- Follow-up Emails – Keep them brief and succinct. Personalize the messages to each company and recruiter. Do NOT send a template email where you simply change the name of the firm. Incorporate a personal touch and make it specific to your conversation with each recruiter.
- Building Relationships – The same recruiting team often attends several events, so the more touch-points you have with them, the more likely they are to remember you. In general, be mindful of what you say and do, as the world is quite small in many industries and people often know each other across firms.