With the holidays around the corner, it may seem like on-campus recruiting is tailing off, but December can actually be an interesting month for finding full-time and summer positions. The reason: right around this time of year, responses to offers are flowing in from students—and, because many candidates will have received multiple offers, lots of firms find themselves with a recruiting shortfall to fill over the next couple of months. Here's where your opportunity lies, and what firms will be doing next:
Checking their list
It's not just jolly, rotund gentlemen with beards who are scrutinizing lists of names at this time of year. If a firm told you that you made the waitlist, they probably weren't just trying to let you down gently—they were planning for the post-rejection/reneging phase, and the first place they'll turn to fill out their incoming class will be the waitlist.
Not expecting a call or an email even after reading the previous paragraph? Not to worry: many companies won't complete their quota even after exhausting their waitlist, for exactly the same reason that it exists in the first place: if you had a firm offer from one bank or consulting firm, would you take it, or sit around hoping that the place that waitlisted you will get in touch?
Here's what that means for you: it's time to check in with your contacts. Start with the firms you've already met with—and especially those where you felt that you established a positive rapport. A polite inquiry about additional opportunities may well yield an invitation for an interview, while your persistence and follow-through will signal a couple of qualities that most employers are looking for.
At the same time, also try your college's career services team: employees there will be aware of firms that are still trying to fill vacancies, and will also have information on any targeted recruiting events that are coming up—something that firms will often do in December and January.
Start thinking about summer
You don't land a summer internship simply by submitting your resume during the fall recruitment cycle. And the good news is that it's not too late to affect the outcome, because the intern resumes that the firms were collecting throughout the cycle are only now being reviewed and whittled down, and lists of potential recruits finalized. Which means that you've still got time to make an impression. Again, that can be done in a couple of different ways: a simple follow-up on timing can often yield a positive response (provided you don't ask for information that was explicitly laid out during the on-campus cycle; that will just make you look inattentive).
Better yet: reach out and ask for an informational interview with the recruiter. But, please: if it's granted, make sure you're prepared for it. Top of mind is only a good place to be if you've asked thoughtful questions that show interest in the company and position/career path. Showing up and winging it will be a waste of everyone's time, and will do you more harm than good.
Make use of your trips
Finally, if you're going to be traveling over the holidays—whether to go home or to visit friends or relatives—do some research on which companies are close to your destination. Then, reach out to recruiters to find out if they can meet with you during your trip. Just make sure that you don't schedule a meeting or informational interview for the morning after the catch-up session with your high school friends—bleary-eyed is not the best way to make a strong first impression!
The bottom line: understanding the recruiting cycle and putting your networking skills to use are the keys to finding positions, regardless of the time of year. And while the holidays don’t have the best reputation for being a time to find a job or an internship, they’re the best opportunity you'll have until the next on-campus cycle starts. So make use of it.
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