Career Corner: Tips on navigating recruiting

We sat down with MBACM student advisors Jennifer Savoie and Manisha Jain and Director of Employer Services Michelle Hopping this week to get their recruiting tips for first-years, second-years, and international students.

Advice for 1Ys

AM&CC: What do 1Ys tell you they wish they knew before recruiting for a summer internship?

JS: At the end of first year, most students tell me they wish they had not worried as much throughout the process. In reflecting back, they discover that perhaps their worrying may have undermined their confidence, and that’s never helpful for any job candidate.  

MJ: Don’t rule anything out. You are at Wharton to change or grow your career, but be sure to do your own research to see what that means for you. Once you understand what you want to do, identify where there are gaps in your skills or knowledge and create a plan to address them. You can be successful recruiting in any industry if you are deliberate and focused, but you can’t do everything at once.

AM&CC: What advice do you have for students focusing on a mix of mature and enterprise recruiting?

MH: Recruiting for both mature and enterprise will give you a chance to keep a lot of options open. Tactically, students need to be doing things to move both forward in parallel. Additionally, take advantage of career advisor time. Finally, remember to keep your networks on both sides warm. For mature recruiting, there’s a great network available between the companies that visit campus and your classmates that have worked in these industries. For enterprise recruiting, build your network in the fall by using the offer directory to find which 2Ys were in roles that you’re interested in as well as thinking about the alumni population.

AM&CC: How should candidates think about a balance of networking and interview preparation when allocating time to recruiting?

MJ: Every year, my colleagues and I hold focus groups with students who were especially successful in recruiting. Every single person in those sessions emphasizes the importance of thorough preparation. Networking is expected more often in some industries than in others, but use networking as a way to gather information, get smart on the industry, and learn details about the day-to-day skills needed for the job. However, make enough time to do your homework on the company, prepare your behavioral stories thoughtfully, and to get comfortable with the technical or case aspects of the interviews. I’ve never heard firm representatives say “I wish students networked with us more,” but I have heard them say “I wish students spent more time understanding the industry in depth.”  

Advice for 2Ys

AM&CC: How should 2Ys who are switching gears after this summer craft their story for employers, especially those who had a bad summer experience and/or did not receive a return offer?  

JS: It’s important to take time to genuinely reflect on the summer experience and uncover positive elements. Students should try to identify things they did this summer that were new to them and will enhance their story.

It’s also important to avoid speaking negatively about your summer employer. A great way to keep things positive is to focus on what you learned and what you accomplished.

MJ: Frame your summer experience as something that helped you refine your vision for what you want to do full time. Leverage the story of your summer experience to highlight that you are self-aware and thoughtful about your career path, or at least that you are able to take on a less-than-ideal situation with a positive attitude and an appetite to learn.  

AM&CC: What advice do you have for 2Ys who come back with an offer that might expire before they have a chance to recruit for other companies?

MH: This is a great opportunity to dig into with a career advisor, who can help with your thought process or give you ideas for alternative paths. Ultimately, it’s an individual decision and speaks to that person’s risk tolerance.

Advice for international students

AM&CC: What advice do you have for international students looking for work in the US?

MH: If you are targeting jobs that will require an H-1B visa, know the facts – understand how the process works and be aware of the deadlines. Each year about 60 percent of Wharton’s international students land in the U.S. post-MBA. Do your research to determine the likelihood of sponsorship within an industry or at a company. We have historical data on which companies have sponsored in the past and can point you to examples of how students were successful in their U.S. job search.

Secondly, be flexible – if you want a job in the U.S., remain open and amenable in other criteria of your search. Have a Plan B (and C!) – be open to alternatives and long-term strategies for landing U.S. roles. Explore multi-national firms and opportunities in your home region if obtaining a visa becomes challenging. MBACM is in your corner on this. In addition to tools like our “networking in the U.S.” workshop for international students, we are keeping a vigilant watch on factors that may affect visa availability and remain in contact with employers about this topic.