Notes from Stanford’s Bases Career Fair and some contrarian tips for companies and students that want to score.
TIPS FOR COMPANIES
Leave the swag bag at home. (Except if you’re the company that brings pizza, it’s always nice to have options from the free boxed lunch.) Some companies try too hard. It’s like the stranger at the bar that insists on buying everyone a drink. It screams, “Please like me!” [Also, did I see some was a recruiter wearing a bear costume, like the one from the tv show Work-a-holics?]
The best companies don’t have great swag. They have good jobs. The hedge fund that your buddy works for does not give out swag, actually they are complete a-holes to everyone. And that works for them because it is step one of the interview. If you get your feelings hurt because they are not nice to you, working there is going be nightmare if you expect everyday to all candy and smiles. Bring your laptop, do some work. Career fairs have ebbs and flows of traffic, and when it’s a little slow you get bored and you want to leave. Your body language will reflect this quickly. Get up, get coffee. Check out the other booths. Break up your time there so you finish up with energy, because there is almost always a last wave of students that pop in scrambling from lab. This is the perfect location to knockout emails. Sit at the table, dont worry about being off-putting. Also if an applicant is too shy to come speak to you while on your laptop, they are probably going to be too shy to ask for help later on in work environment. I’m not saying be a jerk, no I am telling to let the students self-select. Leave company logo shirts for the interns or for the gym. It’s been a cliche ever since you can pick up PipedPiper shirt on Amazon.
It’s not 2009 when kids rocked Techstars American Apparel in two sizes too small. It was like a nerd badge of honor, or like supporting your favorite band, or something…. Those were the days. Bonus Round If you want great advice on recruiting. Listen to Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca. He has a great story about some kid who lost it at Google… because they were out of pheasant as a lunch option. Sacca in his new ventures has different attitude. I love that he looks to see if they have had a ‘terrible job’. Most people highlight the big name internship, when maybe they learned more about hard work going to door selling knives. Those men and women laugh in the face of rejection; they are hard as nails. [Same thing if is they are a veteran or ROTC… welcome to the next round.] Sacca hinted that Google was either attracting and/or training a culture of entitled prima donnas. You need to ask yourself what happens with this person is faced with adversity and rejections for the first time, that they not going to crumble? Or are they a flight risk? It does not matter how talented someone is if they are gone in a few months.
TIPS FOR STUDENTS
Have more than one resume. Did that just blow your mind?! You just spent hours cramming every detail into a one page doc. But you also left off anything about things like travel, or the fact that you brew your own beer, or other interests, because you thought it was not important. Well it is important! Because I am not reading the top sections. I only have a few seconds to scan your resume, so tailor your career fair CV for the context. The resume is just an ice breaker… and SAT or GPA scores are not riveting conversation. So do some A/B testing. Throw a ton of resumes out there to these recruiters.
Let’s close this up with a quick story.
There was a tall female undergrad that walked right up to table next to ours and immediately she explained 1) who she was, 2) what she is looking for, and why she is going to 3) make them money and 4) be a solid hire. I overheard all this while in the middle of having a person telling me how smart he was for about 5 minutes, and at the risk of looking like a complete jerk, I was tempted to cut him off mid-sentence and get this woman’s resume. Looking back, I probably screwed up. The point is, startups are looking for different things then MegaCorp Inc. Traditional niceities and behavior don’t matter. Formality is out the window; we need people that get stuff done. Your resume says that you love to cold call and you are not afraid to get your hand dirty! Are you serious, I love you! It is not a fluffy, boring summer internship at large firm, filing documents. You are going to work and generate value with your internship in a small company. Give the recruiter confidence that you are worth investing into. I can’t stress this enough, if any thing college students offer time and energy. Companies don’t expect you to have all the answers, or you would be in charge. The smartest students actually take notes and ask questions, and write down.