Lately, campus has been full of students walking around in expensive dark suits with their hair smartly combed back and leather folders bearing the University crest under their arms.
For many students who are graduating this year, especially those seeking employment in the consulting or banking services, this quarter is more than just their last fall term as Chicago students. Hoping to ensure job security after receiving their diplomas, many fourth-years interested in the banking and consulting fields have already begun to plan for the future and chart the tumultuous task of finding a job.
On-campus Recruiting (OCR), the University-run job placement service for graduating seniors and recent alumni, publicizes presentations and helps candidates submit resumes and schedule interviews with employers. Much of this can be done through the school's MonsterTrak account.
As of this week, 373 students expected to graduate this year are registered with MonsterTrak and InterviewTrak, the resume and scheduling service run through the University, according to Jay Burgin, assistant director of recruiting.
This fall quarterthe time that brings most of the financial and consulting firms to campus61 companies are registered to give presentations or conduct interviews. Other industries, such as manufacturing, government agencies, and communications firms, tend to hire during later quarters, although offers can come at any time during the year, Burgin said. Even though certain times of year might be more appealing to students who interests lie with particular industries, it is never too early to start preparing and networking with employers, he noted. "Students who start earlier, take advantage of all networking opportunities, and prepare have greater success in securing positions," Burgin said. "It's important to build your resume early through academics, summer internships, and involvement in activities. Employers really do take into account more than your GPA."
To undergo a successful job search, students not only have to spend a great deal of time preparing solid resumes, but also have to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to the OCR process itself, according to Azeem Zainulbhai, a fourth-year in the College. Even before the first submission deadline on October 13, Zainulbhai said he spent almost every night at Ida Noyes Hall listening to company presentations and preparing himself for the upcoming interviews.
Now that the first rounds of interviews are over, the second and final rounds will begin this weekend at the recruiters' home offices, where many students are flown at the company's expense. These interviews continue and positions are offered throughout the process, sometimes almost immediately after the interview.
"As an economics major interested in consulting and banking, the On-campus Recruiting program is really the only way to go," Zainulbhai said. "If you're really serious, you go to all the presentations to network, get to know the company before the interviews, and attend days of interviews just to get to this point."
Zainulbhai noted that of all the students who submit resumes through OCR, few prepare their resumes as seriously as he has done.
Although roughly 40 are seriously interested in each company, only between 12 and 30 will get interviews, Zainulbhai said.
For students whose career interests lie in areas other than consulting or financial services, OCR may not be the best choice as a main job-hunting tool, said Robert MacNaught, a 2003 graduate of the College. MacNaught, who concentrated in economics and now works for a Chicago-based trading group, found that while the Career and Placement Services (CAPS) office offered a good starting point, he needed to do much of the searching himself, networking and developing contacts to find a job in a sector he did not find to be represented by the OCR.
"I found that a lot of people needed to explore avenues for hiring other than the On-campus Recruiting services," MacNaught said. "You can't expect to just find a job through CAPS. Finding a job is a full-time job, in a sense; you really need to be aggressive and proactive to get hired independently. Chicago should work on trying to bring a more diverse group of employers to campus."
Also in his job search, MacNaught found that he didn't have the hands-on experience that many students can obtain through accounting or business classes taken in college. The only place he could claim to have gained knowledge of the business world was through internships, he said. Burgin said that many employers come to Chicago knowing that the students won't be prepared with certain course work that some companies seek in applicants, such as accounting classes. Some employers need help understanding the skill set students here possess, such as analytical skills and the ability to learn quickly, in place of actual on-the-job training, Burgin said.