Every winter like clockwork, a group of 100 McIntire School of Commerce students from the University of Virginia has headed down to New York in business attire to hobnob and network with alums and recruiters from the leading banks and financial firms. The students’ whirlwind trip over winter break, called the finance trek, was a precursor to the internship recruiting that began in full force when students returned to school in January.
This year the school’s career services office made the difficult decision to cancel that trip for the first time in 20 years, said Tom Fitch, McIntire’s associate dean of career services and employer relations. The timing no longer made sense, given that recruiters from the bulge bracket banks hit campus this fall in early September for information sessions and meet and greets. Resume deadlines followed shortly thereafter, with interviews for the highly sought-after financial analyst banking internships slated to start Oct. 26
“This is the year where the banks as a whole made a commitment to focus on the fall and the schools have become more accommodating,” Fitch said. “It really would have been too late to do the trek in January and February. We are looking at revamping the trek for the future.”
RECRUITER HITTING UNDERGRAD BUSINESS SCHOOLS IN FULL FORCE
Recruiting activity is brisk to say the least this fall on business school campuses, as recruiters hit undergraduate business schools in full force, particularly for internship recruiting. Most career services officers said they expect internship hiring to be the same, if not better, than last year, given the strong volume of campus visit and internship job postings. Recruiters from the accounting, banking and even the consulting sectors are swarming the campuses, in such high volume in some instances that career services officers have had to give up their offices to make room for interview spaces. The companies are recruiting for full-time positions, but most have their eye on snagging the top talent as early as possible from the junior class, career services officers at half a dozen leading undergraduate business programs said.
The accelerated timeline of internship recruiting on undergraduate business school campuses, particularly in the financial services industry, has thrown a wrench into how business schools have approached internship recruiting, which many schools are grappling with for the first time this fall. For years, business schools relied on tried and true formulas that allowed them to prepare students in time for the whirlwind rounds of internship deadlines and interviews that used to take place in the winter and early spring. At nearly all of the top undergraduate business programs now, that schedule no longer holds true, with schools being forced to adjust to the new reality.
“The intensity of the recruiting and how early it is just continues to reinforce that it is more than a trend now,” said Michael Roberts, assistant dean and director of the Career Center at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management. “It is what companies are doing for internships. It is critical to get the students prepared because everything now is so accelerated.”
IF IT’S SEPTEMBER, IT’S TIME TO START RECRUITING
Schools have had to adjust in a number of ways, from pushing up the dates and timeframes of the finance treks to cities like New York and San Francisco, holding summer webinars to prepare students for the wave of recruiters they’ll the first few weeks of school and figuring out how to accommodate students who choose to study abroad their fall semester of junior year. Colleges and universities where BBAs start taking their business classes their junior year are finding the new timeline the most challenging because they don’t have adequate time to prepare students in and outside the classroom, say career services officers
At the Marriott School, which has a two-year undergraduate business program that begins junior year, recruiting starts the last week of September, said the Marriott School’s Roberts. The school’s Finance Society, a professional student club, hosted about 25 information sessions in September alone, with visits from Goldman Sachs, Capital One and J.P. Morgan, according to the club’s website.
To better prepare future students come junior year, the career services office started a formal partnership this year with 12 of the school’s professional student clubs. The club’s leaders (most of whom are seniors) and the career services team meet once a month in the dean’s office to strategize on how to prepare the pre-management students, particularly sophomores, on the professional development front. The career center also created a new student role at the career center, director of brand management, where a senior business major is tasked with serving as a liaison between the presidents of the school clubs and the career office staff.