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by Hans H. Chen | March 10, 2009

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What if the company of your dreams doesn't recruit on campus? To find out what students in these situations can do, Vault contacted a handful of career services officers at campuses around their country for advice.

To be sure, students at campuses where these companies traditionally visit do hold an advantage over "write-in" candidates.

But campus careers services professionals say there are opportunities for write-in candidates, even if they have to work a bit harder to find them.

Work it, baby

"Where there's no networking opportunity directly on campus, interviewing for example, then the student will have to find and make their own networks. That's primarily what we coach students and tell them to do," says Ram Sridharan, a counselor with Ohio State University.

The first step in creating your personal network involves tracking down the company official responsible for college recruiting. Many companies provide the names of recruiters and their contact information online. Or, if you know of a school fortunate enough to receive visits from the company you're interested in, have your career services office contact that school's career services office. Most schools grant some kind of reciprocity upon official request. Some schools charge a modest fee, but most do not. Then go and dig through their list of contacts.

"Career services offices will often have files with recruiters' business cards," Sridharan says. "An Ohio University student can come to Ohio State and use our front desk area, our binders, our books. They can't meet with counselors, but they can use all the stuff we have here, and we have several business card folders and students are welcome to come and talk a look at them."

The joy of the informational interview

Next, if you can, schedule an "informational interview" or "courtesy interview" with that person.

"Courtesy interviews of strong candidates quickly become serious interviews," said Dr. Richard White, the director of Career Services of Rutgers University.

But students have to take care to keep their informational interviews informational only and not press for a job.

"The important thing for students to remember is that it's not an asking-for-a-job scenario, but a networking, community building scenario," Sridharan says. "The jobs will really come out of the woodwork if you focus on getting to know more people and asking questions about your field. That will be a side benefit, but it can't be the main thing. If it does become the main thing, then that gets manipulative and the relationship is strained."

Network as a student

Sridharan also suggests the classic networking strategy of joining a professional group, but as a student member.

Also, don't forget about students who have gone before you. Since New York City enjoys a glut of college graduates, along with banking or consulting jobs, consider college alumni networks.

Of course, students from schools that don't receive on-campus visits can just go ahead and mail or e-mail a resume with a company. But even if you do this, don't forget the power of networking, says David Berilla, the associate director for employer relations with the University of Delaware's MBNA Career Services Center.

If you mail a resume through traditional channels, to the HR department, make an effort, though informational interviews with recruiters, friends at the company, or anyone else you know, to find out who makes actual hiring decisions. Then send that person a resume too.

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