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On-Campus Recruitment (OCR) Survival Guide

By Dario Salvato NYU CAS, 2014

My name is Dario Salvato, and I just finished my internship at Goldman Sachs, where I received and accepted my full time offer in Investment Banking Compliance. Let me start off by saying that if you are using OCR, you are in the right place. All the companies that recruit through our OCR program do it because they specifically want people from our school to work for them. This can greatly work to your benefit if you put in the time and effort to capitalize on the opportunity.

In the remainder of this post I want to give you a bit of advice, first on the OCR process, and then on getting the full time offer once you have your internship.

OCR Process

When I arrived on my first day of work on May 30th after receiving my internship offer through OCR, they told me that “I was one of the only people they interviewed who they knew hands down they were going to extend an offer to for the summer,” and looking back on my OCR experience, I think I know a few of the reasons why, and I want to pass them on to you so that you can focus on those aspects of the process:

-While your resume is extremely important for getting the interview, it won’t get you further than that: Your resume is no doubt the single most important thing for getting you the initial interview you want, so you really need to perfect it, but you also need to realize that once you have the interview, your resume will not help you get the internship–how well you interview will get you the internship. So realize that once you get the interview opportunity, the work isn’t over, it has just begun; now you just know what company/position you need to focus on preparing for.

-Prepare, prepare, prepare: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of preparation. Learn everything you can about the company and about the position–why is this company different from the others in their industry, and what is unique to this position within this company. If you are honest with yourself, you probably aren’t inherently very interested in the actual work of the position, so become interested, by learning about it. In your interviews, you probably won’t have to use 95% of the information you learn about the company and the position, but just knowing it makes you visibly more comfortable, confident, and engaged, which is extremely important for a successful interview.

-Prepare for the inevitable questions: There are a few questions that are inevitable in any OCR interview, and because you know they are coming, they are actually a huge opportunity for you to shine and set yourself apart from the other candidates. You should know what these three crucial questions are:

Tell me about yourself/walk me through your resume

Why do you want to work at [Company Name]?

Why do you want to work in [Position Name]?

Prepare for these questions until you know the answers like the back of your hand–rehearse them in the mirror, record yourself on video, etc.. whatever works for you.

-Prepare for that first question “tell me about yourself”: This is by far the most common interview question, and it is also most likely the first one they will ask you. That means you know it’s coming and you know that the answer you give is going to be their first impression of you. Your first impression is incredibly important, and it also sets the tone for the rest of the interview, so prepare your answer to this question.

So there you have it, prepare your way to an internship offer. Other than preparation, just be polite, smile, and sit up straight in your interviewing chair!

Getting the Full Time Offer at the End of Your Summer Internship

I actually received an “unofficial” full time offer almost three weeks before the end of my internship, and like with OCR, I think I know a few reasons why, and want to pass that insight on to you so that you can succeed in your internship as well.

While your internship really is like a ten week interview, what it takes to be successful during your internship is different than what it takes to be successful in the interviews.

There are four things that I found extremely important for receiving a full time offer:

-Hit the ground running: Just like in the interview, first impressions are crucial. And while it is natural to want to ease yourself into your new position–and a lot of interns do–don’t. Be the intern that starts at 100%, doing excellent work from day 1. Making that first impression will put you ahead of the game, and make your life easier when all of the other interns are trying to make their impressions starting week three and four.

-Be like a sponge; absorb everything you can: As an incoming intern they do not expect you to know much about their business, but they do expect you to have a huge learning capacity. Showing your capacity to learn over the course of your ten week internship is crucial if you want a full time offer–they want to see that you know significantly more at the end of the summer than you did at the beginning. So once again, be like a sponge.

-Go above and beyond what is asked of you, and anticipate the future needs of the people you are working for: If you are asked to do A, do A+, and also do B if you know that you will be asked to do that next. Doing just A (the thing you are asked to do) makes for an average intern, doing A+ (the thing you were asked to do, but exceptionally well) makes for a good intern, and doing A+ and B (the thing you were asked to do, but exceptionally well, and the thing you know you will be asked to do next) makes for a truly exceptional intern.

Networking is important, but it should absolutely not be a focus of your internship: A couple of interns I worked with fell into the trap of getting too absorbed with networking, and they ultimately did not receive a full time offer. Yes, it is important to meet the people at your firm, talk to them, and make good impressions, but the fact of the matter is that meeting people will not get you a full time offer–the exceptional quality of your work will get you the full time offer. Would you hire someone “because they are good at networking”? No. You would hire someone because they are good at their work. So remember, your number one priority is doing you work, and doing it exceptionally well. Networking is useful, but its importance is minimal when compared to the quality of work you produce, and in my opinion it should fall lower on your priority list than these next points as well.

Be personable and be likeable: You want the people you work for to like the work you produce, but you also want them to like you as a person. One of the things that are important in hiring someone is whether or not people will actually enjoy working with you. Do you have a positive attitude? Are you polite and kind to people?

While these things alone will not get you a full time offer, they are a great supplement to producing excellent work.

Lastly, be humble: Let people brag about your work for you. Positive talk about your work sounds better coming from other people than it does coming from you. Doing excellent work and being humble about it is not easy, but it is another thing that will set you apart from the majority.

That’s all I have for you. And I would say best of luck with OCR, but after reading this post, you probably know that I think luck has little to do with it!