The clock strikes 7:20. Having sat impatiently through a presentation featuring the rules of a logic game invented by the fun-loving folks called consultants, a herd of Yale students simultaneously stands up, grabs their jackets and portfolios, and storms out of the chic, stylish conference room of the Study at Yale.
The presentation is not over, but the sons of Eli took President Obama’s words to heart: “The time for [logic] games has passed! Now is the season for action!” And action there was. The flock rushed to the Omni for yet another employer info session.
In the highly diverse Land of Oz called Yale, few occasions could produce such a disciplined group that dresses, thinks and behaves so homogeneously. Even in the highly professional newsroom of the News, I’ve known more than one, myself included, who habitually disrespect deadlines and the rigid AP Stylebook.
Hence my amazement at the power of all those info sessions and career fairs. We, the regular seniors — except those determined to study the relationship between Zoroastrianism and the Big Bang or those geared up to go save the world immediately — skip dinners and classes to drown ourselves in the sea of info sessions. And hungry as we may be as a result of dinner-skipping, few pay attention to the hors d’oeuvres and white wines at the info sessions. It’s not the food that we’re attracted to.
We’re looking for jobs. We line up to write our names legibly on those sign-up sheets, and we carefully spell out the yale.edu after the @. We hand out our resumes printed on glossy, creamy high-quality paper, knowing that they have significantly higher odds of ending up in trash cans than in the hands of interviewers. We demonstrate genuine appreciation for each firm’s great PR campaign, wowing at the beautiful slides and laughing at the well-rehearsed jokes. We all know what’s at stake.
Some of my friends, after attending too many info sessions, became disillusioned with those events and began to ask a totally irrelevant question: Exactly how valuable are info sessions — for us students?
The poor souls who come to doubt the value of these info sessions have their reasons. True, you learn hardly anything new about a firm from its fluffy slides — except that it is invariably the best of its kind. Granted, firm X has already conducted its accelerated interviews and given out a bunch of offers without informing the regular applicants, and yes, you probably won’t be able to speak to the one person who might determine your future since, even if you know who that person is, she’s probably besieged by a bunch of enthusiastic underclassmen inquiring about the next spring’s sophomore internship program.
But alas, if you perceive info sessions from a fresh angle, they’re actually extremely useful — and fun! First of all, you get to meet the most intelligent, interesting people on earth, since, according to the seasoned presenter who attended both Yale and Harvard Business School, “You won’t find such a talented group outside the firm” — definitely not in any room filled with members of the Yale College class of 2010.
Moreover, info sessions are invaluable life-skill workshops. You learn to schmooze with people who have little interest in you or your awesome summer in New York. You learn critical real-time thinking skills when you hear an alum say he wouldn’t trade anything for working at the firm and you recall that he said the same thing two years ago while working at another firm. Sometimes you even get to apply the concepts of opportunity cost and game theory in real world cases: Should I attend the small, exclusive reception hosted by the firm that knows me well, or should I go meet new people from another firm at the big, firm-wide info session being held at the same time?
Just remember never to ask: “Sir, is your firm recruiting for full-time?” No matter how small the full-time class of 2010 at the firm will be, it’ll for sure beat your most pessimistic expectations. And if you didn’t land an interview, you could always take a year off and apply to the summer internship program — first-years are called full-time interns, anyway.
So am I going to tonight’s info sessions? You bet. All my friends are going. I’d feel so lonely reading Harold Bloom’s useless commentary on Yeats in the library.
Robert Li is a senior in Ezra Stiles College.