While it’s nearly impossible to name the number one question I’m asked by students and alumni—”when should I start my internship or job search?” is near the top. Chances are you’ve asked this question before, perhaps to me in particular! I hope to shed some light on this important question, all while keeping your sanity intact (I hope).
Broadly speaking, the early fall semester is best to formally start for business, consulting, and finance industries. However, there are key differences in timing depending on the industry, the size of the company, as well as the specific position you’re targeting. This is because every company creates its own recruitment strategy and timing that aligns with it. For this reason, specific hiring timelines and processes may differ and oftentimes the best strategy is to research or contact the specific company that interests you to personalize your own process.
Internship and Full-Time Timelines
Internships: Recruitment for internships occurs year round, yet for some industries (e.g. accounting, consulting, finance/banking) it’s in peak form during the early fall semester.
Full-Time Positions: The fall semester is an especially a very busy time here. Employers are not just posting opportunities online (e.g. EagleLink), but are visiting campus frequently through OCR (On-Campus Recruitment), as well as our career fairs and networking events.
Hiring Based on Company Size
Large Companies: Especially for larger companies, you’ll want to start your search in the fall semester (perhaps even sooner, such as in the summer in the most aggressive recruitment industries such as accounting and banking). Per role, larger organizations often recruit for a higher number of candidates, and often through OCR channels (therefore their hiring timelines are more predictable and structured). These organizations will continue to recruit into the spring semester as positions remain available, or new roles open up. As such, the “sooner rather than later” application logic follows here.
Small/Medium Companies: In comparison to large companies, smaller companies tend to have more individualized–and sometimes less structured, predictable recruitment schedules. Although they will largely abide by their industry norms (e.g., accounting in fall, real estate in spring). These organizations will recruit students more fluidly throughout the year as positions become available (and adjust as larger organizations fill their more aggressive demands).
Hiring Timelines Based on Industry
- Accounting: Late summer/early fall semester. Large public firms will often recruit through offers following internship experiences or in the early fall semester during senior year. Private accounting recruitment occurs throughout the year.
- Consulting: Early fall semester
- Consumer Products/Retail: Spring semester
- Finance and Banking: Late summer/early fall semester. This is especially the case for investment-related roles. Corporate finance recruitment occurs throughout the year, with an emphasis on the fall semester.
- Human Resources: Spring semester/ Year-round based on need. Recruitment here generally follows company size and internship/full-time hiring norms. However for many employers, HR roles are filled as positions become available throughout the year, so keeping an eye on an ongoing basis is advised.
- Insurance: Fall semester
- Marketing/Sales: Mid-spring semester. Recruitment occurs throughout the year, with more activity in the spring than several other BCF industries. Large employers often will recruit starting in the fall, but for most, marketing roles are filled as positions arise.
- Real Estate: Early-mid spring semester (summer internships). Year-round based on need (full-time/post-graduate jobs). Most of the commercial real estate recruitment occurs during the spring. Because real estate is so relational (is certainly not exclusive in this way though), the fall semester, is crucial to focus on building and maintaining relationships to stay in contact with throughout the year.
- Sports Business: Spring semester
- Startups: Spring semester/ Year-round based on need.
Key Terms to Know
- Rotational Programs: Several companies offer full-time rotational programs where employees work with a business for 1-3 years rotating through different departments or functional areas. Recruitment for most rotational programs occurs in the fall semester.
For internships, these programs allow interns to rotate between various departments of an organization or between various roles of a single department. These kinds of programs are advantageous in that they provide an assessment of skills and interests in a number of positions (as well as potential mentorships across business functions), allowing the intern or employee to target full-time openings afterwards in an informed manner that more likely fit well.
- Recruitment: process of identifying talent to fill specific job roles within a company.
- “Just-in-time” hiring: Applies to organizations that post positions based on open positions that have recently been vacated, as opposed to more predictable, structured practices of other industries such as investment banking.
- Off-cycle hiring: Any hiring that takes place outside of the normal recruiting process. Investment banks, for instance hire the majority of their new analysts/associates through their normal recruitment cycle, but tap into off-cycle hiring to fill other roles. Off-cycle hiring often applies to graduates and alumni who may not fit within traditional OCR (on-campus recruiting) timelines, for instance.
- Time to hire/Time to fill: These two phrases can be used interchangeably. They essentially mean the number of days between when a position opens, and when a job offer is offered.
- OCR/On-Campus Recruitment: On-campus recruiting consists of two types of opportunities to connect with employers on the Boston College campus—information sessions and interviews. Organizations will host information sessions to meet students and provide more information about their organization. Many organizations will also choose to post positions and interview students directly on campus for open job and internship opportunities. You can find both opportunities posted on EagleLink.