Big Banks move internship recruiting back – what it means for consulting internship recruiting


The potential for spring internship recruiting madness is over – at least temporarily. Earlier this week, Wall Street titans Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan announced (mercifully) that undergrad internship recruiting would move back from Sophomore spring to the fall of students’ junior years.

How crazy was the idea of recruiting sophomores for roles that started over a year later? From the firms’ perspectives, not that much crazier than recruiting them in the fall of their junior years – a few days after most declared majors and started their finance classes.

What was the difference, then, or the pushback to spring recruiting? Namely, 2017 execution was poor. Company “super days” fell during final exams, creating tremendous pressure on students (“here – choose between your future and your present”). And even then, students were woefully underprepared. The combination of stress – and the fact that students generally wait until upper class years to take advanced finance classes so as not to hurt their GPA – consequently caused them to be unprepared and unfocused for the internships they were trying to apply for.

In a WSJ article published this week, Dane Holmes, top HR executive at Goldman, conceded, “We were contributing to an environment that pressured students to choose rather than to explore.”

Due to increasing school pressure, and the lack of improved recruiting results that banks saw, the Wall Street giants obliged schools’ repeated requests to return the madness to the fall of junior year. So undergrads, breathe a sigh of relief and focus (at least for two years) on gaining the experience – academic, professional, and life – that will set you up for internship success your junior year.

How this affects recruiting for consulting

By all accounts, this is welcome news across the spectrum for undergrads targeting consulting internships. Banks are consulting firms’ biggest competitors for talent (along with Silicon Valley), and with banks pushing timelines back, consulting firms have no reason to begin interviews in the spring of a student’s sophomore year.

While this means undergrads have a little bit more time to prepare for recruiting crunch time, it doesn’t mean they can take Sophomore Spring off. Far from it – consulting, banking, and tech firms will still be holding on-campus events during the spring targeted at underclassmen, and their notebooks (recording who they love and who they’ll want to interview come fall) are ready and waiting.

While schools have held off Banking, Consulting, and Tech firms from invading the spring with interviews, they’ll be on campus the first day of fall semester to kick off case workshops and to signal that it is now recruiting open season. Fail to prepare during the spring, and you’re already way behind the first day of fall semester.

So what should Sophomores do during their spring semester?

To avoid that deer-in-the-headlights look in August, soul searching and consulting prep should start in March. Here’s what sophomores interested in consulting recruiting should be focused on moving into the spring:

  1. Revamp your resume and cover letter – these documents need to be results-oriented, show high GPA (3.5 minimum), on-campus leadership experiences, and ideally a previous brand-name internship
  2. Begin networking! It’s never too early to reach out to pre-MBA consultants in your target office (bonus points for alumni of your institution). Top performers aren’t desperate; they use networking to gather information on many firms. Identify whether a firm will be a good fit for you – and whether you’ll be a good fit for them.
  3. Build skills! Whether modeling in Excel or building a killer slide deck, it’s time to develop the practical skills you’ll need on the job (and more and more, in an interview). Plus, you’ll need some business basics to boot. The time to get started is in the spring, before you find yourself in the throes of your sophomore summer or case prep.

What if I want expert help?

That’s what we’re here for! If you’re in career services or leading a consulting club, bring us in to hold a recruiting prep workshop focused on networking, resumes/cover letters, and corporate business basics. Our spring calendar is pretty full but we do have ~6 workshop slots open – reach out today to learn more.

You can also work with us 1:1. Black Belt Deluxe gives you everything you need to ace the interview process. Did you know our Black Belts are 1800% more likely to land consulting offers?