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Students Welcome Earlier On-Campus Interviews

By C. Ramsey Fahs, Crimson Staff Writer

In the earliest start since its inception, the On-Campus Interview program began during the week of Wintersession this winter, rather than overlapping with shopping week—a shift welcomed by students.

A combination of faculty pressure and student demand brought about the shift in the timing of OCI’s first week, which is traditionally marked by a high concentration of interviews with financial firms.

“Part of the impetus for looking at this is we actually had a number of faculty over the years complain about missing classes for interviews,” said Robin E. Mount, the director of Harvard’s Office of Career Services. “Also a lot of students saying they don’t want to have to choose [between classes and interviews].”

A shift forward was originally piloted during last year’s round of interviews when interviews began on the Thursday before classes started.

“That was sort of our way of testing the waters, seeing if students would really want interviews during this time, and the feedback at that point in time was that it was much easier to be focused on interviews rather than having competing activities [such as classes],” said Deborah A. Carroll, the OCS staff member in charge of OCI.

Michelle Geng ’15, a senior graduating in December, was grateful for the shift.

“It makes a huge difference not having to go class and do shopping [while interviewing],” Geng said. “So I’m very glad they did that finally. Yes, your vacation gets cut short a week, but the tradeoff of not having to go through stress is really amazing.”

Geng, who went through OCI in 2014 and was employed by BlackRock in the summer of that year, believes that students have appreciated the change.

“In general, I think people love the fact that it’s starting before school starts because when I did OCI last year, it was very stressful,” Geng said. “I just didn’t go to class.”

Some students, however, have found the new timeline has created conflicts. Nancy Liu ’16 found that Wintersession programming to which she had committed earlier in the year conflicted with OCI. Liu was unable to attend much of the conference put on by the Harvard College in Asia Program due to interviews.

According to Carroll and Mount, athletes in winter sports also ran into conflicts with interviews during Wintersession.

“There were some students who were training with the sports team or were travelling internationally, and it was difficult to get back, but again, it’s only a subgroup of juniors that were impacted,” Mount said. “Some had to arrange a Skype interview or rearrange and go a little bit off cycle. Employers were sometimes willing to make alternative arrangements for those students.”

According to Carroll, these kinds of conflicts between athletic commitments and interviews are not new.

“Frankly, that’s a problem for student athletes any time of the year,” Carroll said. “Even if we had interviews two weeks from now, we would still face that same challenge with certain populations like the athletes.”

—Staff writer C. Ramsey Fahs can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ramseyfahs.

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