Campus recruiting

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Campus recruiting is the process by which firms come to Columbia to hire bright young undergraduates to fill up the lower ranks of their organizations. At Columbia the process is managed by the Center for Career Education.

This article is intended to outline the process and summarize the most useful advice.

Spring vs. fall recruiting

Spring recruiting is geared at juniors looking for an internship during their last summer before graduating. Many interns will receive full time offers at the end of the summer. Those who don't, plus those who want to shop around before accepting, will want to take advantage of fall recruiting. Fall recruiting is geared at seniors looking for a full time job for when they graduate. Of course, many firms hire throughout the year, so if you don't get a job in fall recruiting, you'll still be able to find something in the spring, though probably not at most bulge bracket investment banks or management consultancies.

The hiring process is very similar for both recruiting cycles. Spring recruiting, even though it's only for internships, is usually just as rigorous as fall recruiting because firms see it as just a slightly earlier point at which to hire people full time.

Info sessions and networking

Columbia arranges lots of info sessions with top employers during which you can learn what these employers do and how they describe their organization's culture. This is important because almost every investment bank has more or less the same culture, but they like to think they're each unique and different. When you're asked in an interview why you want to work for that firm in particular, you'll want to play up that firm's unique culture, even though everyone knows it's just bullshit.

Some people also say it's wise to go to these info sessions so that you can make an impression on the firm's recruiters and those employees who'll be interviewing you a few weeks later. But bear in mind that these recruiters and employees at these events are often surrounded by others just like you, also desperate for a job, and also asking the same old worn out questions. A much more effective way to network yourself into a job is to contact people in the organization who you might know yourself, or more likely, who you know through your parents, your extended family, or through family friends.


Once you've identified which firms you want to apply to (e.g. the top 20 investment banks), you'll need to submit applications through the Columbia recruiting website (ColumbiaTrak or something like that). But first you need a resume, which should absolutely definitely unequivocally be one page long, not longer, otherwise it would become a CV, which is a very different document, mostly used by academics who like to pedantically list every single time they've written a letter to a journal or otherwise scratched their ass.

You can find some sample resumes at InterviewPoint, a site that was apparently set up by some Columbia grads, but most of these are still far from ideal. Once you've created what you think is a brilliant resume, show it to people and you'll soon find out that it's crap. Eventually, with time and criticism, it will evolve into a beautiful shining record of your brilliance.

  • Don't include a "goal"; it doesn't convey any info, it takes up valuable space, and it probably sounds crap.
  • Get your resume reviewed by an actual real life investment banker, or at the very least, someone who's worked at one.
  • Always send your resume as a PDF file rather than a DOC file. This looks far more professional and it hides the fact that you're so inept at Microsoft Word that you use spaces rather than tabs, empty lines rather than line spacing, and dashes rather than horizontal rules. This piece of advice also applies for your cover letter.

Cover letter

Almost every time you want to submit your resume to an employer, you'll find that they also ask for a cover letter. Like your resume, keep it to one page and send it as a PDF. Also, you really really should try to send it to a named person such as Mr Smith rather than to "whom it may concern" or "sir/madam".[1]

In your cover letter, you should

  1. Introduce yourself briefly
  2. Say what position you're applying to and why
  3. Say why you're applying to this company in particular
  4. Explain what skills you can offer, and thus why you're the best candidate for the job


If the firm likes you, they'll invite you to a first round interview. This will typically take place at Columbia in one of the miserable little interview rooms at CCE in the East Campus basement. If the firm still likes you after your first round interview, they'll invite you to a second or final round, often called a "super day". This typically takes place at the firm's offices downtown, which is incredibly convenient for Columbia students (almost everyone else has to fly in, perhaps stay the night, then go through the inconvenience of claiming expenses, etc).

  • Some people advise you to send a thank you letter, but in practice it doesn't make any difference.


If you receive an offer, don't immediately accept it. Think through your options, ask around, seek advice (though don't go overboard[2][3]).