In the recruiting process, make contacts, not competitors

Amanda Almeda

With recruiting season in full swing, the pressure is on for students currently looking for full-time positions and internships. Juniors and seniors can be seen sporting suits between interviews and class, hurrying between career fairs and Jester City Limits. And while UT provides excellent resources and job listings for students seeking these opportunities, students have to keep in mind that they’re competing for limited positions against their high-achieving peers. In addition, current candidates have the additional burden of securing employment in the recovering economy.

Despite the difficult job market, these students aren’t all as competitive in their interactions with each other as one might expect. In some cases, today’s tough job market has even fostered an environment of increased collaboration. Some students seem to be more open to sharing advice with one another about certain industries and companies, whether that’s in the form of interview tips, insights on company practices and culture or key people to contact. 

At first glance, students sharing information about the employers and industries that they are pursuing jobs in may seem to put them at a competitive disadvantage. But many students are willing to do so because it can be mutually beneficial. Openness with one’s recruiting situation can encourage openness from one’s peers. This is one reason why finance senior Jacob Cantu says while he would be a little hesitant to share information with casual acquaintances, he is open to sharing tips with his friends. 

“It’s good that there’s a lot of transparency,” Cantu said. “Going into interviews, we want to know what to expect, especially in first-time job placement.”

Finance junior Jackson Pei didn’t see the point in not being transparent. The competitive recruiting atmosphere doesn’t seem to have escalated into a culture of sabotage between students.

“It doesn’t make a difference,” Pei said. “At the end of the day, if someone is the strongest candidate, the company will pick them.”

Petroleum engineering junior Grant Hahnenkamp echoed Pei’s view.

“We’re competitive, but it’s not like we keep secrets,” Hahnenkamp said.

Students may also feel more secure about exchanging advice when their friends have a diverse set of interests. Hahnenkamp said although many of his friends are in engineering, he is not in a situation where he is interviewing for the same companies as them.

For some students, the recruiting environment has been less supportive and more competitive.  

David Sambrano, an English and government senior, said that conversations about recruiting between the people in his majors aren’t always intended to be helpful. Some of the discussions, especially ones about salary, turn into one-upping conversations as opposed to informational exchanges. He said some fellow students use the opportunity to compare who got the best job.

For other students, the problem preventing collaboration is not the competitive atmosphere. Rather, it stems from a lack of cohesion between students of the same major. Economics senior Mario Castaneda said he didn’t have specific knowledge of what jobs the fellow students in his major are applying for.

Regardless of the competitive atmosphere, students from both the more collaborative and less supportive recruiting spheres of UT agree that it would be helpful to have more outlets for career advice from recent graduates and students who have already accepted full-time offers. This additional external support could come in the form of workshops and mentorships. Furthermore, for students that don’t have a network of acquaintances to go to for advice on the careers they are pursuing, this additional support can help level the playing field. 

Being a Longhorn should not stop after we graduate, and this uniting factor should not stem merely from our proximity with one another. Collaboration now can help set the stage for our interconnectedness as graduates. It can help us leverage the networks we may need to support our future causes, business ventures, research and other world-changing ideas. 

Almeda is a marketing senior from Seattle.