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Finance and Consulting Firms Shifting Recruiting Schedules Earlier

By Andrea M. Bossi, Crimson Staff Writer

Many finance and consulting firms are completing their recruitment processes earlier in the fall—and targeting younger students—to grasp talent before other organizations.

The large proportion of Harvard students that pursue these careers are seeing the effects of the timeline changes, according to Office of Career Services Director Robin Mount.

Based on OCS’s 2017 senior survey data, about a quarter of graduating seniors in 2017 planned to go into finance or consulting. That breaks down to about 12 percent entering consulting and about 13 percent entering financial services—and the numbers are increasing, according to Mount.

Mount added that because the applicant pool for these positions is growing, more firms are coming to Harvard. And, in turn, because of this competition, many of the firms are looking to recruit students earlier.

Max R.D. Krawitz '21 is an associate for the Harvard College Consulting Group—an undergraduate organization that consults for various organizations—and said he has attended various informal events with consulting firms, like coffee chats. He said that as a freshman, he found these events helpful since they are relatively low stress, help students gain some interview experience, and “make the process less intimidating.”

Various firms—including Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Company, and Boston Consulting Group—target underclassmen through formal and informal meet-ups on campus, like office hours, dinners, and coffee chats.

Some, though, have taken a more personal approach. Deloitte, for instance, has an Early Mentorship Program for Harvard freshmen and sophomores who are unsure of their paths to consulting.

Michael C. Reid ‘18 said that when he was a freshman, there were not many known opportunities for involvement in consulting, and there were many misconceptions about people in the sector.

“There was this preconceived idea of what the industry actually is,” Reid said. “When I came onto campus as a freshman, they would lump you into this group of people that everybody hates that nobody really understood what it actually meant to consult.”

This semester, Reid co-founded the Crimson Consulting Club, an organization that consults for other Harvard student organizations.

Reid said that, in addition to the benefits to shifting the schedule earlier in the fall, there are benefits to recruiting students at a younger age. He said these changing schedules can make students focus more on their lives after Harvard at an earlier stage, which he said is not typical as many students get caught in the Harvard bubble.

“A lot of times people get caught into the Harvard bubble and don’t think about what they’re doing after. One of the main benefits from moving the timeline a bit forward is, now, a freshman can come in and know that there are different job opportunities,” he said.

Mount, however, said she worries that the earlier recruiting schedule favors students who come into college knowing they want to go in to consulting, which would likely come from the privilege of having someone close to them who can inform them about the sector.

She mentioned a situation in 2014 when Facebook hired a paid summer intern who was a high school student. Facebook flew the student and his mother out to California for the interview. Though this happened in a tech company, Mount said she worries that this is trend extends to other types of firms.

Mount said different sectors have varying entry points. Some finance firms, for example, will mostly hire from an intern class. So, if you miss an initial opening, your chances for future involvement are extremely reduced. Mount said she also worries this will decrease the diversity of students that are hired.

“How much earlier can you go? A big concern we have is that it definitely privileges students who arrive on campus knowing that they have an interest in that, which means that they probably have family members or family friends,” she said. “Who knows about any of these things in high school?”

—Staff Writer Andrea M. Bossi can be reached at andrea.bossi@thecrimson.com and on Twitter @bossi147

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