Balancing Studying Abroad and Recruiting

Many Sternies still choose to go abroad despite the pressure to stay in New York.

Written by Virginia Favaro

Recruiting season is always a stressful time of the year. Suit-clad Sternies hop from one networking event and company presentation to another with the expectation of landing their dream internship. Companies usually begin recruiting students in their junior year for their coveted summer analyst programs. However, recently, most financial services companies, particularly investment banks, have pushed up their recruitment efforts, moving up their timelines to seize the best talent before their competitors.

But how are Stern students reacting to this change? Sanjna Kirtikar, a sophomore currently studying Computing and Data Science and Global Business in New York, says that recruiting early “limits our freedom as students and forces us to choose between industries and career paths we barely know about.” As sophomores, it’s easy enough to understand what banking and consulting are on paper. However, it’s much harder to get a grasp on what the industry is actually like. What does it actually mean to be an investment banker in terms of your day-to-day work? That is why so many companies have programs aimed at sophomores and even freshmen. Through programs such as the Barclays’ Sophomore Springboard and Deloitte’s Pioneer and Discovery internships, students are able to gain better insight into what working at these firms actually entails and what a day at work might feel like.

New York has the most career and professional resources available to students. It is therefore not surprising that some students choose not to study abroad in order to take full advantage of these resources. “Instead of studying abroad, I decided to stay in New York City to try and figure out what career would be right for me,” said Sanjna.

However, many Sternies still choose to go abroad despite the pressure to stay in New York. BPE Sophomore Lucy Gong is currently studying in London, but she doesn’t feel at a disadvantage compared to her peers in New York. “I’ve been exposed to plenty of opportunities that I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to find in New York,” she said. When asked about whether it’s possible to recruit abroad she said that “it’s totally doable.” In fact, she is currently working as an e-commerce intern for an international affairs and lifestyle magazine in London.

All BPE students until the class of 2018 were required to study in Shanghai (or Washington DC) Junior fall, but even now that they have a choice to go back to the city, many choose to continue studying abroad. Although junior fall is prime-time for recruiting for sought-after industries such as finance and consulting, BPE junior Veronica Gabriele chose to study abroad in Shanghai. When it came down to making her decision, Veronica decided that “traveling and studying business in different locations would heighten [her] learning.” According to Veronica, “it’s easy to acquire hard skills anywhere, but what you don’t get are the soft skills which you can only acquire if you experience different environments.”

Recruiting abroad requires immense amount of effort and Veronica “did a lot of cold emailing and calling” in order to get in contact with various professionals. However, there are resources abroad such as the OCR and Wasserman equivalent in Shanghai that actually offer consulting case interview prep.

Was study abroad worth it? Veronica Gabriele, a junior in the Business & Political Economy, certainly thinks so. Although the New York campus offers more opportunities for company visits and professional events than campuses abroad, “the experience of studying abroad outweighs these company visits.” It adds a unique layer to one’s interview responses, giving students something different to talk about during interviews, rather than regurgitate technical finance knowledge that most Sternies recruiting for finance-oriented internships or full-time jobs possess. Veronica said that in many of her interviews she talked about London, Shanghai or her coding experience in Tel-Aviv. Her experiences abroad were a way for her to set herself apart.

Even though recruiting and study abroad don’t go hand in hand, it’s still possible to recruit abroad. Whether one chooses to do so depends on the additional amount of effort he or she is willing to put in.

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