I spent about half of my recruiting career on a campus recruiting team at one of the top Investment Banks. It is an interesting world and has very unique and specific rules that don’t necessarily apply in the “normal recruiting world”.
In terms of definition, on-campus recruitment is when companies (usually large ones) have a strategy which involves filling a certain number of jobs or internship slots with candidates from a specific campus. Generally companies that do this have formal programs that they are recruiting you into (that are likely large in size). On-campus presence can range from very small efforts (just showing up for interviews) to really large efforts (multiple events scattered across the fall and spring semesters). Regardless, they are there to hire you – and that is a great thing.
Some industries participate on campus more than others. Finance, technology, and consulting are the big players – but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a a little bit of everything. Events are organized through the career center, which means you should be checking in with them (or their websites) constantly to find out who is coming, when, and what the sign up process is.
The season starts with appropriately-titled “Kick off events”, a way that companies get to show up, introduce themselves, and tell you why you should want to work for them. They usually consist of some type of presentation or panel followed by some dedicated networking time. If you are still learning about what career path you are interested in, attend as many of these as possible. It is a great resource to learn about different industries and companies.
The on-campus recruiting season ends with interviews. Generally the schedule is a mix of “open” and “closed” slots. In terms of the closed slots, the companies actually get to determine who they want to interview with them. They determine this based on the interactions they have had with students over the course of the semester. Even networking events where you are standing in a giant circle are enough to land a positive or negative impression (there are tricks of the trade to remembering who’s who). The open slots are ones that can be signed up for but depending on the company, they can be very competitive. You are also at a disadvantage since the chosen students were hand selected because of previous data or resumes deemed strong by a selection committee.
In terms of the time in between the beginning and end of the on-campus recruiting season is everything else. Coffee chats, job fairs, dinners, case studies, visits to the office, and more. Some events are invite only and some are open. My advice is to apply and try to attend as many of these events as possible. If you are serious about a company, you should try to get in front of them as many times as you can.
I know it is only week one or two of being back at school, but it’s definitely the right time to get into your career center and make sure you are all set up to take advantage of what is to come. When I worked on the campus team, we started planning events in August and the earliest ones (for undergrads) happened in October/November… so now is the perfect time to drop by, pick up a schedule, and start thinking about what you’d like to attend and which companies you’d like to get in front of.
We’ll have a lot more information coming as the season ramps up so stay tuned. If you have questions you want answered specifically leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, check out our post on back to school to-dos.