MFin Career Question of the Week: I’m an 18 month student, and I’m wondering HOW I should start taking action for full-time recruiting?

I’m an 18 month student, and I’m wondering HOW I should start taking action for fulltime recruiting? 

Understanding relevant industry and company timelines for full-time recruitment will be very helpful. Even more important is figuring out how to execute a full-time recruiting plan for your desired career goal.   

The next best step you can take for your full-time recruiting effort is to meet with your career advisor to get customized recommendations based on your specific situation and goals.  The meeting can be as structured (setting up a process, answering specific questions, reviewing goals) or unstructured (brainstorming, expressing concerns, general conversation) as you’d like.  To start the process, here are some questions that you can start asking yourself now to help guide the conversation and to put yourself in the best position for your full-time job search: 

1. Am I hoping to return to my summer internship company for a full-time role?  (It’s OK if you don’t know this right now) 

The answer to this may change after spending time at your internship, and that’s OK.  Whether or not you want to go back to your internship company for a full-time role, having a general idea of your direction is helpful so that you start your research for a full-time position.  And, as we mentioned last week, excelling at your summer internship and getting a full-time offer is extremely helpful, even if you plan to change directions.  

If you do hope to secure a full time offer from the company you are interning with, or even if you are unsure right now, you can start becoming a more competitive candidate by learning all you can from people who have more experience than you do at that firm and in that field (yes, we mean networking).  

If you need a place to start, we recommend reaching out to your future summer colleagues.  It’s perfectly OK, and is actually a great first step, to introduce yourself to team members via email or LinkedIn this spring and ask for a chance to meet over coffee (either virtually or in person).  These are the easiest informational conversations you’ll ever have.  The response rate will be much higher than the general LinkedIn message response rate, and you can get a sense of the person’s career path, the team or company culture and what type of work you’ll be doing. It’s a great opportunity to start building the relationship before your internship, which is extremely helpful and will make your transition to the new team easier this summer. 

(See the February 19th Question of the Week about increasing response rates from your LinkedIn messages!).  

If you want to recruit for a different role or company after your internship, see below. 

2. If I don’t think I want a full-time role with the company I am interning with, am I planning to recruit for the same industry/function as my summer experience?  

If yes, you hopefully already have an idea of the recruiting timeline for that industry.  After that, see above question and answer – same applies here.  Start networking with the team you will be working with.  You never know what experiences they have had, and how they can help you with information, advice, or connections.  Continue to be positive about your upcoming internship and working with the team/firm. Leave any hesitations or thoughts about a future with a different firm for conversations with your career advisor! We can be a supportive sounding board for these conversations, and we can help you navigate your thought process around next steps.  If you want strong recommendations and references from the team and manager you will be working with this summer, stay positive, express excitement, and be appreciative for the opportunity.  Also, your opinion may change after experiencing what it’s like to work at your summer internship company. You will most certainly learn a lot on the job, some of which may change your perspective or your goals. Be open-minded, positive, and actively engaged now to ensure you are well-positioned for all potential opportunities that present themselves. 

If no, what is the recruiting timeline for the industry I am targeting? When do they hire full time roles? If you are unsure, see the previous Question of the Week post and reach out to your career advisor. The best course of action is to follow the above advice and start networking with the team. Remain positive and curious. If you want to pivot after the internship, you’ll still want glowing recommendations and brilliant examples of your successes on the job. It’s still smart (and highly advantageous) to start building relationships with your summer colleagues now. 

3. What advantages do I have as a candidate in the full-time market for the industry/function I am targeting, and where are my knowledge or skill gaps? 

Once you have a solid understanding of the skills, education, experiences, and characteristics that are highly desired for the role/industry you are targeting, you’ll want to assess where you shine, and where you need to improve.  Spring and summer are a great time to add skills and obtain knowledge that would help your recruiting efforts.  For example, are there certificates that you can get on your own for a specific technical or business skill? You can spread this out over a few months and be working towards a new or improved skill at your own pace.  Or, have you been meaning to keep up with daily market updates and news but haven’t been able to get into a groove? Now is a great time to subscribe to relevant publications or create a daily routine of checking in on the news sources that make the most sense for your target industry such as the Financial Times (free for MIT students), Wall Street Journal (electronic version free for MIT students), TechCrunch, etc.   

Your efforts here will pay off.  Not only will you be more informed, but just the act of engaging in gaining new or improved skills and knowledge will demonstrate to employers that you are 1) intentional about your career path, 2) genuinely interested in the field you are targeting and 3) are self-aware and comfortable seeking new knowledge. 

4. What did I do well in my internship recruiting process, and where did I struggle? 

Having a growth mindset doesn’t only mean seeking new information for your future recruiting goals. It also means reflecting on previous experiences.  Think about the parts of your job search process that went well last summer and fall. What practices or actions contributed to that success? Can you apply any of those to your full-time job search approach? Likewise, what areas of your process could use improvement, fine-tuning, or maybe a jump-start? The most successful job seekers have a keen ability to critically analyze their approach, identify areas for improvement, and ask for help when needed.  Similarly, employers are consistently looking for candidates who demonstrate an ability to ask others for help when needed, offer help (not just advice!) to others, and who seek out feedback to improve their approach. You have a vast network of peers and professionals at MIT Sloan who are willing and excited to help – reach out! Imagine if the interviewer for your dream job asks “Tell me about a time you reached out for help, and what was the result?” and you could talk about how you landed in the interview seat for this role specifically because of your ability to connect with your community for help (in the form of knowledge/advice)? That’s a win-win.  

Still have questions? Not sure where to start? Reach out to your career advisor. We look forward to supporting you! 

See previous MFin Career Question of the Week: I’m an 18 month student, and I’m wondering WHEN I should start taking action for full-time recruiting?

By MIT Sloan CDO