October 1, 2010

Ridiculously Late O'Clock

Well, it's been another 2 weeks since I updated (whoops...) but I do have some good news - I have been submitting my resume! And there have been responses! It's quite heartening.

For other internship-seekers (and job-seekers in general) here are the things that I have observed:

1. Networking--

Networking is an amazing, powerful tool in your kit, and a worthy ally to have at your side. It's also very tedious and can seem like a real drain on your time. I found that for every 5 people I contacted, 1 would respond. A 20% response rate may seem low, but consider this: that's the response rate of the average email-only, non-incentive survey (Source). It works for Gallup, it can work for you too.

Also, networking can seem inordinately difficult. Remember this, however: most people love talking about themselves. Given half a minute to do so, they will wax poetic at length about their work. (Except for investment bankers - they're a taciturn lot.)

2. Following Up--

While complaining about "those damn kids" not being polite anymore may well make me seem a touch crotchety, the fact of the matter is this: following up with a networking contact or a person with whom you chatted during a presentation can make a serious difference in whether or not you end up on a preference list.

3. State of the Economy--

Though all indicators point to the economy being on an uptick and hiring having recovered significantly, you may well still find yourself in April and jobless. Despair for like a day, and then decide to be proactive. Spend your summer volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or some other major nonprofit. Study for the GMAT or GRE. Network with university alumni in your area or who are at companies you want to work for. So some soul-searching: are you doing everything you can to be the best that you can be? Are you unfocused in your job search?

Research your industry. Is investment banking really what you want to do? Are you sure it's management/strategy consulting that you're interested in, and not supply chain management or even information technology consulting? Ask hard questions of yourself and determine via research and networking if your chosen field is really what you want.

Also: interview prep. Spend your summer practicing interviewing, especially if you have a case interview. Investment banks, consulting firms, and some finance and marketing firms are using the case interview to weed out applicants. Determine if you need to be worried about receiving one of these well before you come across one in the interview itself.

Finally, and perhaps most important, take a hard look at your resume. What does it say about you? Does it accurately reflect what you can (and have) done? Or are your bullet points job description points as opposed to job achievement highlights? Your resume should look like the highlight reel of a SportsCenter (TM) segment - polished, rounded, and a teaser for who and what you are. Don't sell your skin entirely in bullet points, but don't simply parrot box scores at the recruiting director, metaphorically. I strongly suggest reading Confessions of a Recruiting Director by Brad Karsh. His book was my figurative Bible this summer, and his resume chapter changed my life.

But be forewarned: your university's (or the recruiting firm's) preferences come first. Also, Karsh comes from a Marketing background. Investment banks and Consulting firms will be more traditional and buttoned-down than Marketing houses. Be sure to read the book with an understanding that not 100% of what he says is true. I used about 70% of the resume chapter alone, and 100% of the networking chapter. It's cheap used and an invaluable resource when combined with the advice of your school's Career Services office.

4. Resources--

You have, without a doubt, a myriad number of resources at your behest. Between the Internet, a public library, and a Career Services office, you should be able to make yourself as best as you can be. Take advantage of all of your resources. Remember: finding a job is a full-time job. This is Truth in Television.

Wish me luck on my job-hunt! I'll do my best to keep you posted on developments.

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