Recruiting: When Is “Early” Too Early?

Source: Poets & Quants

By Aaron Choi

The recruiting timeline is all too familiar to Stern students: whether you’re recruiting for investment banking, consulting, tech, or marketing, balancing an endless stream of interviews with a difficult course load is an unpleasant experience all-around. It’s a time that first-year students don’t look forward to, sophomore students prepare for, and junior students jump into head-first, balancing superdays with midterms and extracurriculars. Such is the case for this past recruiting season, during which 2019 Summer Analyst interviews started in Spring 2018 for then-sophomore students, kicking off the recruiting season a full semester ahead of schedule and more than a full year before the actual internship. With recent news articles such as the one published in the Wall Street Journal on Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan stepping away from early recruiting, it is important to ask: When is an “early” recruiting season too early?

The recruiting timeline for 2019 summer analyst programs was never seen before; networking sessions and interviews were pushed up by around eight months. For some, it was definitely a surprise. In a survey of NYU Stern juniors, over 60% of students said that the recruiting timeline for their desired industry began earlier than they expected, or earlier than it had for previous summer analyst classes. Financial services was the main industry that students reported having an earlier recruiting period for, and the industry that most students expected to continue pulling forward the recruiting timeline. Even though recruiting was unexpectedly moved up, respondents were split evenly when asked if they would have recruited better had recruiting been closer to their expectations. Maybe this is a product of Stern excellence, or maybe it’s just all of the “Breaking Into Wall Street” and “Wall Street Oasis” guides circling around campus.

There are several advantages to an early recruiting process. First, interviews tend to be more behavioral than technical. With less time to take more challenging and relevant courses such as Equity Valuation, Financial Services Industry, or Advanced Corporate Finance, firms may be hesitant to ask harder interview questions on classwork. Also, this gives less time for students to complete challenging internships. This is especially the case when summer analyst recruiting occurred before students’ sophomore summer, effectively cutting short the opportunity for students to have a well-balanced and strong resume with relevant internships, on-campus involvement, and extracurricular activities.

Over 80% of survey respondents believed that recruiting will continue to be earlier. However, nearly all survey respondents would have preferred a recruiting season that happened later in their academic careers. This would have given students the opportunity to improve their GPAs, explore courses that demonstrated their academic interests, and complete internships that could build their skills outside of the classroom. There would also be less emphasis on grades earned during freshman year. This can open up students to feel welcome to take challenging courses and work part-time internships while also going to class. It would also give them more incentive to explore classes off Gould Plaza. It would make sure students would not need to sacrifice intellectual curiosity in order to recruit well.

The most recent recruiting season was definitely a unique one. It could be setting the stage for an even earlier recruiting season for the Stern Class of 2021. With the first sophomore recruiting season in the books, future Stern classes will hopefully be able to approach recruiting a little more prepared.

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