An Inside Look
By TUSHAR DWIVEDI
In years past, Junior year’s fall semester has represented a critical moment for those interested in the fields of consulting, finance, and more recently, technology. While college remains a time for students to discover their interests and explore a variety of career options, the recent trend over the past decade has emphasized the importance of the Junior Summer internship as a stepping-stone to a full time career.
The colloquialism “Recruiting Season” typically refers to Junior Fall, one in which large swaths of students bustling in suits and so called “pad-folios” split time between classes, section, the Office of Career Services, the SOCH, and superdays across the country. Similar to Senior Fall in High School, when students are applying for colleges, a similar spirit of mutual competitiveness, struggle, and excitement surrounds campus.
Over the past few years, however, it has begun to appear like the “Season” part of “Recruiting Season” has abruptly been dropped, as recruiting has become one of the norms of college-life—especially for those considering the field of finance. As described by numerous alumni, one’s freshman and sophomore summer both used to be opportunities to explore exciting opportunities across any particular interest, without fear of career retribution or negative consequences. Whether spending the summer at home or studying abroad in a foreign country, the material substance of one’s first few summers rarely had any impact on one’s career inspirations or even ability to get a job in the future.
As of the past year, finance recruiting timelines have accelerated to the point where, at its most extreme, students are applying for Junior Summer internship positions immediately following completion of their freshman summer. As such, this necessitates; (1) having certainty that a student is interested in finance quite early in college and; (2) having a relevant freshman year internship, discouraging opportunities to explore. More commonly, many major financial institutions have been opening applications and hosting final round interviews prior to one’s sophomore summer, which sometimes creating unique challenges for those yet to acquire a sophomore summer position in the first place.
Shangda Xu, a Junior in Adams House, and current co-president of the Veritas Financial Group (VFG), a major finance education student organization on campus, discusses with the Indy the potential ramifications of the current status of recruiting.
Indy: For those not recruiting, or those wondering why their peers in finance or related fields seem to be perpetually networking and interviewing: can you explain the current status of recruiting timelines?
Xu: Certainly. As best we understand it right now, students need to be prepared to apply and interview for Junior Summer jobs as early as February in their Sophomore Spring. This is when the first round of applications opened for many of the larger investment banks earlier this year. Within the next few months, most firms—including those more niche— had also opened applications, and all in all, a large majority had held final round interviews prior to the summer.
Indy: What consequences (good or bad) does this have for students?
Xu: At VFG, we get to see and work with a lot of talented, motivated students keenly interested in finance; as such, a lot of them are already aware of timelines and have been moving fast since freshman year to best position themselves for a strong internship. In the past, the best experiences we’ve had at VFG, however, include working with incredibly smart kids who are learning about finance for the first time. They end up excelling while leveraging VFG’s platform. With recruiting timelines being so accelerated, those students who’ve been interested in finance for quite awhile have an advantage in being up to date with timelines and at the forefront of applications. We’ve been working hard this semester to work closely with the latter group—those who’re just discovering finance—to educate them on not only financial concepts, but also how to manage recruiting, networking, and everything else necessary.
Indy: Do you have any parting advice for freshman or sophomores now interested in the field?
Xu: A lot of people are scared of asking upperclassmen for help, while others seem to just view their older friends or students as means to an end (job). Reaching out to people who’ve gone through the process, who know when the crazy timelines occur or when firms who won’t even publicly announce they’re recruiting begin their process, is invaluable. We do our best at VFG to provide a structured access to those resource, but people all around campus are way more willing to help than most people think, and I encourage folks to take full advantage of that.
Tushar Dwivedi ([email protected]) wonders where all of this is heading.