Over the past couple of weeks, it has come to the attention of the Student Association that several recruiters have been offended by students walking out of company presentations early. Clearly, how recruiters feel about HBS students is very important to all of us. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness about the issue and to begin a dialog on how we can improve the situation.
There are several reasons that we suspect cause students to leave presentations early. The first is a lack of interest in the presentation, and the second is scheduling conflicts with other presentations. Career Services has tried its best to distribute the presentations so that companies catering to the same students do not overlap, but, inevitably, they will conflict in some cases. In an attempt to attend simultaneous presentations, students may inadvertently disturb both presenters and their classmates by leaving early from one and arriving late to another. Where we may simply be trying to broaden our career opportunities by attending more than one presentation, some presenters are finding it rude.
There are several ways that we can address this issue and we are looking for more ideas. In the longer run, we can look at how to restructure presentations. One solution could be for company presentations to be shortened to, say, 30 minutes followed by an optional 30 minutes Q&A. Clearly, these structural changes cannot happen this year, but we need feedback from you now to make things better going forward.
In the meantime, one suggestion that we received from the administration for students wishing to show their interest in a company whose presentation they cannot attend due to conflicts is to leave the recruiters a voicemail (or email). Explain to them that you have a strong interest in the company and could not attend the presentation because of a prior commitment. We have heard that companies have been very respectful of these messages in the past.
The other reason why people leave early may be a general lack of interest in a given company. Based on feedback from our peers, it seems that this is what is most upsetting to our classmates who are interested in that particular company and whom it is directly affecting. If we cannot give a presenter an hour of our time, then we should make sure that the company really interests us before attending. Shortening presentations or changing the format of presentations may mitigate this problem in the future, but, at the moment, we should be sensitive to the side effects of our behavior on our classmates.
In order to tackle this issue fully, we need more feedback from you, as well as your support and good judgment in future presentations. Please talk to your section’s career reps and send us feedback directly at email@example.com. We have also set up a discussion board to discuss this further at //isites.hbs.edu/index.jhtml?site=733 . With this issue properly addressed, we will be able to make the recruiting process better for both the recruiters and ourselves.