Don’t forget to check out the first instalment of Leona’s column, The Hunt Begins
I spent the first half of this semester attending multiple on-campus information sessions for various companies I could see myself working for.
Attending these information sessions has been both beneficial and time-consuming.
Typically, info sessions have a half-an-hour presentation and then networking time – networking is the best part because it usually includes free food and an open bar!
The atmosphere of the info sessions varies from one company to another. It’s interesting to see the different approaches companies take to recruit graduating students: some like to be more casual, emphasizing the open question and answer period to communicate their company culture, while others take a structured approach and have representatives speak and explain about the company.
My friend, who is specializing in accounting, went to the info sessions of all the big accounting firms, told me each of them took a different method to targeting students.
One of the firms designed their session to be more informal, creating a more relaxing environment. This made the company ambassadors easier to talk to because the barriers of formality were lowered. My friend said “the mix and mingle was a lot easier [to network with company personnel]”.
Another firm booked a location that didn’t allow you to eat or drink in the main hall, which made the atmosphere of the session appear to be more stuffy and rigid. This ultimately affects the mood of the recruiters and of the students attending. The conversation between recruiters and the students are less of a conversation and more of a question and answer period.
Despite the variation in approach, I typically stick to my favourite info session method – the stakeout.
The stakeout begins when I enter the room and see the employees huddled together. During the presentation, I listen carefully to the introduction of the team, waiting for the golden phrase: “Hi, I’m _______ and I’m the HR manager.” Bingo! Now I know who my target is.
Once the presentation part is over, the race to the human resources manager beings. The HR manager is typically the person who will sort through all the resumés and pick who he/she wants to interview.
It seems that I usually lose this race, however and I blame it on my high heels (damn feminine dress code conventions). As I stand there with my fellow classmates waiting my turn, my mind races to find a question which hasn’t been asked and will simultaneously make me stand out.
Sometimes the stakeout isn’t necessary. Last month, I went to an info session for a beverage company. I had already made plans to apply to the company and even scheduled two hours of my Saturday to write a cover letter and tailor my resumé.
But once I got there, I realized the company’s session was not what I expected. The company emphasized its long hours and other negative aspects, which I don’t find attractive in a place of work. Needless to say, I was thrown off. The friend who went with me was confused about the approach the company took because when she went to a competitor’s info session, she came out feeling very inspired.
At the end of this information session, we felt the opposite. This was one of the few times I bolted out of the session as fast as I could, not even bothering to stop and grab some of their free food for dinner.
That experience really highlighted the value of info sessions to me. It saved two hours of my Saturday, letting me catch up on watching Glee and finish my accounting homework.
It also proved that, overall, information sessions are a great way to learn more about the company, network with the team, and decide if you really want to work for them or not.