Congratulations you’ve secured a place on a spring week or insight programme! There’s no clearer message that an employer is impressed with you – both with your profile and crucially, how you’ve connected it to their business. So how do you make the most of this experience?
Using discussions from a recent careers panel where 2nd and 3rd year students came back and shared their top tips with first years, conversations with recruiters and watching many of you ‘in action’ we have compiled our top tips for how to make the most of your spring week.
1. Do your research
You will have already done some of this when making your application but now’s the time to dig a bit deeper. Look at the sector, the firm’s business, any relevant ‘desks’ (Banking), but also the logistics for the week. In the weeks leading up to it read the business pages of quality newspapers, maybe the FT’s Companies and Market. You don’t need to understand everything you read but following some markets/business stories will provide you with some context for the sessions you do.
2. Do your analysis
Once you feel confident you have a good grasp of the research you’ve done, analyse the firm’s recruitment literature, website etc. to establish what they look for in candidates (talk to second years too). Consider the different elements of the spring week to decide where they may look for specific qualities eg. during skills sessions (teamwork) , case studies, work shadowing (interpersonal skills) and social events (networking skills).
3. Be professional at all times
Looking professional is really important. Plan your look/outfits for the week – you should aim for business smart. Employers are talent spotting so don’t distract them with too much jewelry or dirty shoes! You have a relatively short time to impress. Your CV and application has opened the door to this recruiter and it’s very easy to close it again by checking your phone, talking during presentations, or arriving late. Looking and acting professional will give senior recruiters and staff the opportunity to imagine you working in their teams. So listening attentively to presentations, asking good questions and looking engaged at all times all create a good overall impression.
4. Show enthusiasm and interest
Your research should have generated lots of interesting questions. Consider when to deploy some of these. Ask questions that demonstrate you know your stuff or that you’re genuinely interested in their business – but don’t get too technical or long winded! Aim for concise positive questions that help the whole class and demonstrate your genuine enthusiasm.
5. Monitor progress
At the end of each day think about what went well and consider how you might adapt your approach. “Tune in” to the requirements each recruiter has and look for opportunities to make each part of the spring week a success. Make copious notes – whether you ultimately work for this firm or one of their competitors the insights you gain can really improve your future applications and interviews (eg. for summer internships). You might even decide that the sector (eg. banking or finance) is not for you. That’s perfectly fine! But an analytical approach to your spring week can really help you articulate this positively in future interviews.
6. Make the most of the networking opportunities
Networking should start before you arrive. Take any opportunity to speak to second year students and alums to get the ‘inside track’ on the firm and what is happening right now. Look to facilitate your fellow students and employers from the moment you arrive in reception. Strike up conversations, ask questions, and use the information you gather to ask even better questions and to help make introductions. Look to build rapport with every one you meet and decide when it feels right to ask for a name, business card, an email, or follow-up discussion.
7. Finally, enjoy it!
If you put the work into 1-6 you’ll really feel the benefit in terms of your confidence and your ability to participate. Active, engaged students who look to see what they can to bring are often the ones who take most home.