M&T students, along with other Penn students, regularly engage in OCR (On Campus Recruiting) to pursue internships and full-time positions. We asked two seniors to describe the process, offer tips, and provide advice to those pursuing careers underrepresented through OCR.
1.) What is OCR? Why is it important to M&Ts?
Stephanie: OCR is the process whereby companies come to campus and recruit students for internships and full-time jobs. It happens in the fall for both juniors and seniors officially, though sophomores often talk to recruiters. The process is generally three steps:
- Companies host an information session for students to learn more and ask questions. Some may later hold coffee-chats or luncheons for more personal small group or one on one conversations.
- Students submit their applications (usually resume and cover letter) online.
- Students may be invited to interview in several rounds.
Michelle: OCR is important to M&Ts because it puts great contacts in front of you – much better than searching on your own. For M&Ts, there are OCR opportunities on both the business and engineering side open for recruiting.
2.) What have your own experiences been with OCR?
Stephanie: I was flown back to (my hometown) Cleveland for a final-round interview with McKinsey my junior year. Even though I didn’t end up landing the job, I learned a lot from the experience and enjoyed visiting an office outside of the typical NYC/DC or Bay Area locations. Plus, I got to spend the weekend at home!
It was a pretty quick process. I had my first round on Monday, they notified me Tuesday, and flew me out on Thursday for a second round interview on Friday. For how quick it was, it was a really positive experience. However, I’ve also had plenty of negative experiences with OCR. It varies depending on the timing, and a little bit of luck.
Michelle: I got my sophomore summer internship with ExxonMobil through OCR. I stopped by their booth at the Marketing Career Fair, talked to the recruiters, and dropped off my resume. Within a week, I was notified about a first round interview on campus.
Before the interview, I attended the info session and a coffee chat with the recruiters to learn more about the position and ask some specific questions. After my interview, the company flew me out to Virginia for a final round interview before I got an offer. I had a very positive experience. The whole process took 2-3 weeks and was extremely organized. It was great to be done with recruiting early!
3. ) Do you think OCR in its current form is beneficial to everyone? Why or why not?
Michelle: It depends on what industries you’re interested in. A large number of the employers that participate in OCR are consulting or finance companies. For people who are interested in these areas, OCR is a great way to secure an internship or full-time job. These companies come to Penn with the purpose of specifically recruiting Penn students, which gives applicants a huge leg up.
However, for people who are interested in industries that don’t recruit at Penn, the pool of OCR employers can be somewhat limited.
Stephanie: I have several friends interested in academia, the arts, and other areas. OCR can be stressful for them as they see people getting jobs relatively early, even though many industries don’t begin recruiting until later.
Additionally, students interested in fields that don’t participate in OCR may find it more difficult to get an employer’s attention. Often these students need to be more strategic about how they apply to positions.
4.) What are some “non-traditional” recruiting approaches?
Stephanie: I spent some time sophomore year calling people who had any connection to the entertainment industry, starting with M&T alumni (Associate Director) Jaime (Davis) recommended. I wanted to experience the industry and see if I’d enjoy working in it. I met some very interesting people like a line producer and a lawyer working for Warner Brothers who had worked on shows like The Bachelor, Arrow, and The Flash.
I then resume-dropped to a ton of different companies. Pro tip: when you resume-drop, don’t just apply to the large companies – look at smaller ones, too! I applied to about 30 or so entertainment companies, and (excitingly!) Miramax ended up giving me an offer for that summer.
Being resourceful can often be more effective than OCR for non-traditional industries. People who are interested in those areas would benefit from taking the time to reach out to industry contacts. Luckily, M&Ts are spread throughout the U.S and the world, so no matter what you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find someone!
Michelle: Except for my summer with ExxonMobil, all of my internships and my full-time offer came through other approaches. One thing I did was apply on the employer’s recruiting website, then reached out directly to a contact at that company to let them know I was interested and applied. This is where the Penn/M&T alumni network comes in handy! Oftentimes, that person knows the recruiter or hiring manager and can pass your resume directly to them.
Another thing I did was sign up for Indeed.com and similar job-hunting site. You can set up filters for specific companies, geographic locations, positions, and salary levels and receive email alerts when a job opportunity that fits your criteria opens up. These approaches are useful if you are interested in industries/areas that do not recruit heavily at Penn.
5.) Anything else you’d like to add?
Michelle: When it comes to recruiting, I’ve learned three things:
- It’s stressful! Lean on your friends and the M&T community for support and help/encourage each other.
- Sometimes you have to tune out what other people are saying and are pursuing. Focus on recruiting for what you’re passionate about.
- Have faith that things have a way of working out! Your first job will not be your last, and there are many different paths to get to where you eventually want to be in your career.
Stephanie: Be sure you want to go into the industries OCR targets before going through the process. Remember that the M&T community is quite self-selective and many M&Ts are drawn towards OCR-driven careers. It’s easy to feel like you should be doing OCR because “everyone else” is, too. Just relax! Whether you get a job through OCR or otherwise, it’ll work out in the end (even if the process is stressful!)
Stephanie Zhu is majoring in Computer and Information Science and concentrating in Management, Entrepreneurship, & Innovation. After graduation, she will be joining the Amazon Tickets team as a Software Development Engineer. Her favorite thing about the M&T Program is that it brings together people with similar academic interests, strengths, and intellect from a diversity of backgrounds and “out of class” interests. She loves having the support of her fellow M&Ts and the M&T Staff.
Michelle Chan is a Systems Engineering major concentrating in Management, Entrepreneurship, & Innovation. She will also be joining the Amazon team next year as a Brand Specialist. What she likes about the M&T Program may seem cliché, but it’s true: the people. She has met some of her closest friends through M&T (she and Stephanie will be roommates in Seattle!) and her peers, along with the M&T Staff, are an invaluable support system.
Stephanie and Michelle are both members of the Class of 2017.