Written by Michael Saucedo, Haas UG Blog Writer
On the surface info sessions might seem like a Royale Rumble wrestling event where you have to power bomb your resume onto the table or RKO the initial handshake with a recruiter in order to seem memorable. Its unsurprising then that some students decide to opt out of these often overcrowded and seemingly superficial events. But what if I told you info sessions weren’t meant to directly give you a job? Instead, they should be looked at as a learning experience where the goal is to gain valuable intel to prepare for future interviews. Approaching info sessions with this in mind is going to be the best way to leverage these events. Here are some examples of what you have to gain by entering the ring.
Learn what recruiters want
You’d be surprised what kind of insight a recruiter will share with you just by asking them! I remember once I asked an Apple recruiter “What are you looking for in a competitive applicant” and then they said “Well on top of GPA and extracurriculars, we are looking for _____” (Go to your own info session to find out!) That same day I had an interview for a position that I really wanted and when I was asked “Why should we pick you?” I knew exactly what kind of skills I needed to market in order to be competitive. Chances are you already have the skills recruiters are looking for, but knowing ahead of time what those skills are will give you enough time to develop an answer that you’ll be able to talk about without stumbling. Other good questions are “What do you like about your position?” “What do you like about the culture?” etc. These kinds questions can give you ammo for later so that when you walk into an interview you’ll be able to answer questions using these conversations as references.
Develop soft skills
Most of us know how to socialize in an academic environment, but those same mannerisms and habits may or may not fly in the industry you want to break into. Going to info sessions will give you an idea of how people interact within a given field, what kinds of things are appropriate, and what kinds of conversations are typical. For example, when I talked to Blizzard at a past career fair one thing they wanted to talk about was what kind of video games I played. I answered with “Well I’m level 30 in Pokémon Go right now” and the recruiter said “Wow make sure to put that on your resume!” I’m pretty sure he was kidding, but knowing that these kinds of conversations are appropriate proved incredibly helpful when talking to other gaming companies. These same topics probably wouldn’t fly with a banking or consulting firm, so go to an info session to learn what they fancy.One thing I would recommend is just walking around and listening to the kinds of questions recruiters ask, what kinds of questions other students ask, taking note of the dress code, etc. Then, form a plan of attack based on the themes.
Meet new people
Now some of you out there might still be thinking “But Mike, I don’t like networking, or talking to people, or people in general.” Well I’m right there with you buddy! But the fact is, meeting people and seeming friendly are a sort of requirement for coming off as a normal person that people would want to work with. What makes it especially important at info sessions is that not only do you get the chance to meet recruiters, but you also get to meet other students with similar goals and interest. When you show up to these events there’s likely to be 300+ people, leaving you to wait in lines. But, the pro is that you can talk to other students that you otherwise might not ever get the chance to meet. After you’ve waited in line and made what is sure to be a long lasting BFF, you get to meet someone who already works and has experience within the industry of interest. By shifting your focus from how this person can get you a job and instead concentrating on what you can learn, you’ll end up having a much better time. Remember to send the recruiters you meet a thank you note for their time!
It’s fairly well known that info sessions aren’t very likely to directly lead to a job offer, but by leveraging the connections you make and the conversations you have, you put yourself one step closer than the person who opted out. And while it might start out feeling like a trip to the dentist office, the more events you go to and the more people you meet, the more comfortable you’ll become!