"You can almost smell it," the Philadelphia Inquirer writes of the anticipation on Penn's campus this spring. It's recruiting time for Ivy League undergraduates, and the tension is palpable. "Students walk around in pressed suits, gripping monogrammed leather-bound portfolios," the Inquirer says. "Boys swap sneakers for dress shoes, and girls click their heels on the bricks of Locust Walk."
"Toolishness is the name of the game," said one Penn student.
The major attraction of the season at Penn appears to be the arrival of McKinsey recruiters. The Inquirer reports that "hordes of undergraduates piled into a campus conference room" to listen to the world's most prestigious consultancy make its pitch. Notes were taken. Attention was feigned ("A lot of the time," one student said, "they're not really saying anything."). And when the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the recruiters arose, "streams of bushy-tailed students hurled themselves toward the recruiters."
Reminder: do not eat the fruit. "I would never want to be eating while I was trying to make an impression," said one Penn junior. "I wouldn't want to spill on myself."
Another reminder: do not make an ass of yourself. One Penn undergrad witnessed another self-destruct in the attention of a McKinsey recruiter. He imitated the girl, who pushed her résumé into the McKinsey recruiter's hands and talked sales:
"Hi my name is...As you can see from my résumé, I have worked in fashion for two years...Now you might ask yourself, why would a girl with experience in fashion be interested in a job in consulting? Well..."
The recruiter was, unsurprisingly, "super uncomfortable."
Yet another reminder: do not make an ass of yourself….unless everyone else is doing it. "Toolishness is the name of the game, really," said a junior, in on the act. "Walking around with your little portfolio, talking to these people as if you knew what you were talking about, trying to get them to like you."
IMS Health also made an appearance on-campus at Penn, with one recruiter providing generic advice on how to get noticed. Most importantly, she said, "friending recruiters on Facebook doesn't advantage you in any way." Instead, just send a follow-up note.
Recruiters are like the wind, though; as soon as they've arrived, they're packing up their McKinsey folders and salesmen smiles and heading back to the office. Students too have reverted back to old habits, trading in their business socks for ordinary cotton whites.
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Related: Harvard BS Guide to Interview Etiquette