How Do You Like Your Coffee?

by on September 30th, 2011

Firms with MBA recruiting teams spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on recruiting activities. They put together marketing materials, organize email campaigns, ask current students for recommendations, create new websites, and last but not least they send consultants to campus to interact with students.  One way that the consultants interact is by means of atrium hours. Another way is by having large information sessions. Additionally,  one final way they do this is also by having Coffee Chats.

Class of 2012 and 2013, welcome to campus. I’m sure all of you are looking forward to recruiting as the year goes on. Dressing up in formal clothes every day. Having questions prepared. Submitting resumes and cover letters. And of course the coffee chats you have with every single firm you’re interested in.

So what are coffee chats you ask? Well, coffee chats are informal discussions with firm employees at a local coffee shop in Evanston. About a week ahead of time, you pick a time slot that works for you, and you meet one of the employees/ campus representatives to chat with them about the firm. Such conversations will enable you to meet the people from different office locations and learn more about the firm and its culture. Everyone that wants to go to a certain industry usually takes part in these chats, even if they know everything possible to know about a firm. It’s protocal.

In general, there’s a lot of advice people tend to give about how to approach the chats. Be prepared. Be likable. Don’t be too aggressive; especially for 2 on 1 coffee chats with classmates. Sell yourself a little but still be subtle.  And most of all have good questions. And these tips apply across industries.

In banking, you want to have as many of these as possible and that the person who will be interviewing you should absolutely know who you are before that interview. In consulting, you want to have at least one with each firm. That way you show interest, get the chance to make a good impression, and learn more and more about firm culture to see what firm you fit in the best.

In the end, people often debate the value of these chats. Further, some second years have more or less given up on them. In my view though, the chats are pretty useful. Not just because you learn more about the firm and have a better shot at getting hired, but also because most of these folks at Kellogg alum and will work in many industries you’re interested in over time.

Either way, I suspect you’ll be gong on these chats no matter what industry you go into. So I hope you like coffee.

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