With two weeks remaining until the beginning of RC on-campus recruiting (so-called “Hell Week”), many first-year students are gearing up for what is being billed as one of the toughest summer internship job markets in years. Over the past two weeks, RC students interested in internships with traditional HBS recruiters have been receiving electronic notification of whether or not they have been invited to first round interviews. On-campus interviews are scheduled with the online HBS Career Link. Some companies, overwhelmed with applications, have not informed students with unsuccessful applications of the change in their status. Thus, in some cases, RC’s have had to resort to monitoring target companies’ online interview schedules for signs of activity.
HBS MBA Career Services has been working hard to keep students up to date with developments. In addition to regular briefings with section Career Representatives, last week Career Services ran workshops focusing on: the current recruiting environment, interviewing skills and strategies, timing considerations, and HBS recruiting policies. Matt Merrick (MBA ’96, Section C), recently appointed Director of MBA Career Services, and Ron Peracchio, Associate Director of Technology and Operations, spoke to The Harbus to share their views on the recruiting environment and upcoming HBS initiatives. “We acknowledge that it is going to be a challenging recruiting environment,” said Merrick, “to counter this, we are communicating to students the importance of considering a networked job search. On our part, we are taking a more aggressive approach to marketing HBS to potential employers … even when the overall job market shrinks HBS still comes out doing well.”
Many traditional HBS recruiters have indicated that their commitment to internship programs remains the same as it has been in the past. Overall, however, the current job market, coupled with the merging of the September and January Cohorts, will adversely affect both the supply of and demand for traditional internship positions. Recognizing this, an integrated series of efforts to help students conduct a networked job search are underway at Wilder House.
First, an intense marketing campaign targeting HBS alumni is planned. Within the next two or three weeks, Career Services will be contacting over 30,000 alumni worldwide via e-mail in order to remind them of the current recruiting environment, and to consider HBS students when hiring for internships or full-time positions. Also being contacted are over 100 HBS alumni clubs, and the attendees of a forthcoming HBS Global Alumni Conference.
Secondly, Career Services announced a plan to target internship positions in the portfolio companies of venture capital and private equity firms. “As each firm has a portfolio of many companies, this is a very leveraged approach … we don’t know what the success rate will be, but we will be using HBS’s strong links into both the venture capital and private equity industries,” added Merrick. The opportunities available in such portfolio companies are likely to be of a general management, operations, or business development nature.
Also, MBA Career Services is adding capacity to its career coaching services. Before January, the length of slots had been increased from 30 to 40 minutes. In the face of high demand, Career Services are now planning to increase capacity as well. “We recognize the need for more nitty-gritty advice on the nuts and bolts of conducting a networked job search,” added Peracchio. This view was echoed by the types of questions posed by RC students to Dr. Tim Butler, Director of Career Development Programs at an informal Q&A session held last week. Emphasizing the need to “think past the big name companies”, Dr. Butler advised students to: start with lower-level contacts in organizations, saving high-level contacts for when knowledge of the company is more developed; ask contacts for further leads into the industry; and send resumes when making an initial contact, using hard copies for non-technology companies.
Career Services do not yet have data on how the Class of 2002 has been fairing in the search for full-time positions. In addition to year-end data collection, “we hope to conduct an informal poll during the spring,” said Peracchio. Career Services are still expecting an average of multiple offers per student, although there is evidence of a “return to normalcy” for compensation levels.
Though potentially an exasperating experience, there is scope for students to benefit in the long run from the experience of looking for a networked summer position. “We believe students are being more thoughtful in their choice of internship … there is less of ‘going with the herd'”, said Peracchio. “It’s a fact of life that once you leave HBS, every job you get thereafter will involve networking. There is a benefit to learning this skill early on,” added Merrick.