Early Bird Gets the Worm

Procrastination is not usually a skill listed on LinkedIn or a resume (nor should it be), but I would wager to say that it would probably be the most endorsed skill for many students. Many of us are busy with extracurricular activities, projects and life in general. As a result, students often lose sight of the entire reason that they are in a graduate program: to find a job upon graduation. Many people don’t start looking for a job until they have earned most or all of their grades. This is the wrong approach and it can severely cut down the number of options that will be available to you upon entering the job market.
I find that many students assume that a high GPA will translate to a great job. While attaining exceptional grades is a large part of the equation, students must take the proper steps toward putting themselves in a position to get the interviews. In finance, the recruiting process tends to be highly structured, especially for the larger corporations. As somebody that has been through the recruiting process previously and somebody that is going through the process again now, I would like to share my suggestions for handling the recruiting process, so that procrastination does not become the reason why you don’t find a great job.
My List of Must-Do Tasks:
1.) Know the Schedule of the Process
Although I know that this schedule is not the “end-all, be-all”, this is the general structure for all of the largest and most recognized firms:
Mid to Late August – Development and Analyst Training Programs begin accepting applications
Late August, September, Early October – On Campus and Conference Recruiting
Mid October to Late November – Super days for full-time hiring
Early November to January – Super days for summer analyst or summer associate internships
January to March – Firms tender internship offers
2.) Apply Early and Often
You have a dream job. That’s a great thing and a very important aspect of finding success. You should apply for that position, AND EVERYTHING ELSE. My personal suggestion is finding 3 industries in which you would like to work and identifying at least 5 firms in each industry and applying to all 15 of those firms. To a certain extent, job hunting is a numbers game. The more applications you have floating in the cloud, the greater the odds will be that you get a call for an interview.
3.) Attend Conferences and Lectures
One of the greatest experiences of my time here at Tulane was traveling to Houston to participate in the National Black M.B.A. Association. This conference was open to people of all races, colors and creeds and had more employers to network with than I could count. The conference allowed me to discover companies that I may have never heard of otherwise. I was able to find out about job opportunities and even interview with a few firms. There is also the NSHAMBA Conference, Reaching Out Conference and Asian Career Expo. Let me reiterate, THESE CONFERENCES ARE FOR EVERYONE! Step outside of your comfort zone, take comfort in the fact that your story is different from everyone else’s and get in front of recruiters.
4.) Get In Front of People
The most important part of a job search is dedicating face time to people. Get in front of as many contacts as possible. The best way to go about this is to put together a list of alumni in the industry in which you are trying to break in to, researching these people and sending out feeler e-mails so that you can actually have to chance of meeting with these industry professionals. For the most part, people want to help. Show them that you are genuinely curious and trying to develop a better understanding. Most importantly, never ask for a job unless your contact presents you with an opening. Try to leverage other people’s experiences to put you in the best situation for a successful job hunt.
Procrastination can be a student’s worst enemy in the classroom, but it generally goes without any serious repercussions. When it comes to the job search, the early bird gets the worm. To quote Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Show up, show up early and show up often.
Tommy Milburn
Master of Finance Candidate 2014