Getting a job is no longer a matter of mailing a few typewritten resumes. The essentials now include ecru stationery, letter-heads in Times 12 point, bubble forms, and a little footspeed.
Thursday, at the Office of Career Services, 492 students submitted packets of resumes and cover letters with hopes of finding jobs in consulting and investment banking. Some students arrived only a few minutes before the 1 p.m. deadline.
"It was crazy. People were coming in and out like mummies because they hadn't slept all night," says Ricardo A. Suarez '95, who submitted his applications five minutes before the deadline. "I'm still recovering."
A line had formed outside the career services' Dunster Street office by 9 a.m., according to OCS Recruiting Director Judy E. Murray. While people arrived late as usual, the office was not unusually chaotic at deadline time, she says.
Many students see it otherwise.
"The tension was palpable," says Sameer Ferrell '95, who also arrived right before the deadline. "Nearly everyone was out of breath from running there."
Many students had spent the entire night before in a caffeinated blizzard of rough draft cover letters and resumes.
Students give various excuses for the final application rush. Suarez says he was plagued by printer problems all evening. Other students admit to pure procrastination.
"This is typical of Harvard," says Arzhang Kamarei '95. "We don't do things 'til we feel like it."
Despite the mass descent upon OCS to submit resumes, many students have been preparing for the job applications for months.
They attended every kind of session possible: info sessions in hotel conference rooms, question and answer sessions at OCS, interview sessions, and advice sessions on how to approach interview sessions.
Most of the larger sessions had the same atmosphere. Students mingled over cheese trays, watched overhead presentations, and asked questions about the company of the moment.
"There's always a room full of 75 people in suits, sweating because they got there late," Kamarei says. "At the beginning of the season everyone is embarassed and some work up the nerve to schmooze because they think they'll get a job that way. In the middle, there are 75 pushy people all asking stupid questions. And toward the end of the season they just don't care."
The next few months, students will hope for interviews on campus or, if they're lucky, a visit to a glass room in some company office.
They'll coach each other with case questions, quizzing each other on how many football goalposts exist in the U.S. or the market for toothpaste. They'll worry.
The ultimate goal of these endeavors is a name on a business card somewhere and perhaps a personal telephone extension.
"You realize you can't stay in school forever," Kamarei says.
But if so, the job hunt seems to be more work than school. Ferrell says he was exhausted after Thursday.
"As soon as I left I walked over the liquor store," he says. "I had a beer, then I fell asleep."