“Absolutely no chance”
In the first term at Warwick there are a whole bunch of talks hosted by Warwick Finance Societies (WFS) and the first speaker who talked in depth regarding spring weeks, Muzzafar Khan, very clearly told us his view on spring week applications: suggesting that every person who is applying should send off at least thirty applications before the end of October.
This was quite a shock, immediately I could pick up people in the audience look at each other in absolute shock and awe, I heard “absolutely no chance” to my right and could see people counting how many days that left them. Whether the information he gave was fully true or not is debatable, but the main thrust of his point is important, getting a decent volume of applications, whilst still being good quality, sent off early is the best approach.
I then became a Fresher Rep for Warwick Finance Societies (WFS) and gained the support and guidance from some second years that had been through the process already, so they were pretty much untouchable in the eyes of most first years. I sat down with one and we wrote up a timetable of which companies I’ll be making applications to and when.
This is one of the single most productive things I did in the entire process because setting interim deadlines and having goals in front of you makes the whole thing real and forms accountability. You can’t hope to finish your applications if you always put off starting them. Sometimes these things are tough to get going, and seeing everyone else having already started can be demoralising, but just stick with it!
The order of the companies was pretty important, making a balance between exposure and practice with regard to your preferences is very important. Right now you might be thinking that you’ll take any place you’re offered, of course you would, but it’s better to save your best and most practiced applications for your first choices, right? This may seem contradictory from the previous advice of the sooner the better but the payoff of practice and refinement of your applications outweighs the time delay of sending your first choice off.
First things first, pretty much every application requires a CV, this is pretty obvious. Putting a lot of work into your CV will pay off big time and if you are stuck with yours I wouldn’t recommend getting some random template from the internet. I would say however that talking to second and third years, maybe even a fourth year if you dare look one in the eye, will give you invaluable help. I would always go to the CV sessions held by WFS, bringing a bunch of printed copies (NEVER ON A LAPTOP) of my CV with me and give them to some of the older years giving advice out, so this would probably work very well for you! There advice covered the basics: one page only, start each bullet point with a buzz word such as organised or structured and try to keep the content relevant! (This applies all the Max Fischers out there!)
What do you mean there is more writing?
So once you have that sorted, next comes the cover letter and having not taken a subject that requires anything over one hundred words in an answer for the past two years; written tasks are not my strong point. Identifying a good structure was what worked best for me, three paragraphs: why them, why their program and why me. Pretty simple. So I then started researching the companies: awards, culture, values, recent deals and initiatives etc. I also attended as many talks and events at the university as possible, because then I could talk to the people at these companies and get information directly from them, to get an idea of what they look for.
With cover letters, the first thing I did was write a first draft for the five companies I had least preference for, then got them looked at by a second or third year and re-wrote them having taken on board the feedback. My first drafts were of course ripped to pieces by the people I showed them to but honestly that is to be expected having not done a cover letter of the sort required for quite some time. Bottom line is that the advice they have to give is very helpful and should be listened to and taken on board. Although saying that does not mean you should take each individuals word as gospel as you will quickly hear a lot of opinions about do’s and don’ts and some may conflict this means forming your own style from a combination of the advice you have been given and your own opinion and thoughts.
Becoming competent at competency
I found the best way to tackle competency questions was to get first-hand information from employees at events and yet again the golden second years. You are probably starting to realise just how helpful second years are. At events I would pretty much ask the employees and speakers parts of the questions and then see how they each answered, from this information I would form my responses. Some of the questions ask about the area you have applied to and some of you probably don’t know too much about the actual goings on in these companies, my best advice would be use YouTube, research profiles of each role and, you guessed it, ask the older students.
How do you fit it all in?
So on top of these application interim deadlines you also have those things called lectures, assignments and of course nights out. For some people the first year won’t count and for others it will, like me, and some will have more contact hours some less etc. The best way I found to manage the applications and research was to frequently work on them for one to two hours rather than blasting them at the weekend, I found this helped me keep in the zone for them for a longer period. Also writing them hung over just produced incoherent ramblings which when I read them back in a better state made me laugh but were overall unproductive. Other people work in different ways, I know one guy who instead of Saturdays had Spring Week days and he seemed to be getting on well with that method. Bottom line is find something that suits you and don’t just give yourself some easy option.
So those are my tips for the basic blocks of Spring Week applications and to summarise:
– When in doubt, ask older students
– Get interim deadlines and order of applications sorted quickly
– Get your CV looked at by as many people as possible
– Go to as many company presentations as you can
– Actually talk to people at these events, it’s their job to give you information
– When in doubt, ask older students!
– Get a cover letter structure that works for you
– Use your time well and don’t do any writing hung over
– WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK OLDER STUDENTS!