For students in the College of Arts and Sciences, it can be tempting to dismiss on-campus recruiting as another Wharton concentration. But OCR for summer internships — a period during the spring semester in which technology, finance, consulting and business firms interview primarily juniors on Penn’s campus for coveted internships that often promise full-time jobs — is open to all Penn students, and many have not hesitated to participate.
In the 2014-15 school year, two-thirds of all Penn juniors — approximately 1,696 students — participated in OCR, Associate Director of Career Services Mylene Kerschner said.
The University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences Summer 2014 Survey Report indicated that 16 percent of rising seniors used OCR in their summer job search. Forty-three percent of College students looking for internships in consulting and 27 percent of College students searching for internships in finance cited OCR as a key internship search tool. And 27 percent of juniors in this survey reported being hired by finance or consulting firms.
Summer 2015 data describing the number of students who were offered or accepted internships through OCR is not yet available.
23.6 percent of the Class of 2015 reported receiving their full-time offers via OCR, and 21 percent of College 2015 graduates now work in financial services, according to the preliminary data for the Career Plans Survey for the College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2015, which precedes the official survey’s release in the coming weeks.
While it is difficult to enumerate what companies who recruit during OCR are looking for, it’s safe to say that certain majors or schools won’t make or break students’ candidacy.
One of the most common requirements posted by OCR firms on PennLink, a database that conglomerates OCR positions and allows students to drop their resumes for various employers, is “strong quantitative and analytical skills.”
“You can get that [quantitative skill set] in any of the schools here at Penn,” said Barbara Hewitt, senior associate director of Career Services.
Hewitt and Kerschner noted that many engineers and College math and science majors are successful in getting jobs related to financial services.
These trends might explain some of what may appear to be incongruous findings in the 2014 survey, which paired students’ majors with their internships. Several biology and chemistry majors reported interning as investment bankers.
Large firms in particular are “very happy if people have the raw talent [to hire them and] train them,” Hewitt said. She also noted that students at schools like Harvard that have no undergraduate business program are not at a disadvantage.
Neither are students who consider themselves creative problem solvers. Consulting firms constitute a large portion of OCR, and “that’s where you see the preference for more of the creative [skills]. They want problem-solving skills, they want communication ability, leadership and ability to work on teams,” Kerschner said.
Retail firms also make up a fair amount of OCR, and Hewitt noted that communications majors have been successful in getting those types of internships.
Hewitt and Kerschner emphasized the variability of employer preferences. Much of the time, employers are looking for many qualities in applicants, including GPA, activities and leadership.
Students interested in consulting can easily determine if it will be a good fit for them. Case studies, in which applicants are asked to provide solutions to business challenges during consulting interviews, are readily available on firms’ websites as well as on and , career prep websites to which Penn subscribes.
These career preparation resources are useful for non-OCR internships as well. “Lots of our students do really interesting things” with companies that don’t participate in OCR at all, Hewitt said.
Students might have to take a little more initiative in actively searching for non-OCR internships, which may include attending career fairs and applying directly through companies’ websites. Kerschner urged students to take advantage of , an online consortium shared by several top universities that lists scads of internship opportunities all over the country.
Kerschner also emphasized the importance of networking, adding that “networking is so key not just to get a job but to learn about it.”
The need for this initiative might be particularly true this year, given the fact that many banks and finance firms and hired their interns in the fall.
Nevertheless, students still in search of internships for the summer shouldn’t get frantic — over half of respondents to the Class of 2015 Career Plans Survey reported getting a full-time offer without OCR.
Darcy Deane, a College junior majoring in linguistic anthropology, has found internship opportunities in consulting just by simply Googling company names and putting herself on listservs. Her OCR experience thus far has been less rigid than the stereotypical impression of harried students exchanging handshakes with recruiters in Career Services Suites. She’s been attending coffee chats with large consulting firms at the Penn Book Center since the beginning of the semester.
“This is a lot more informal than I thought it would be,” Deane said.
One element of OCR the surveys didn’t quantify, however, was student’s knowledge and interest in a given position. Bryce Arbour, a College senior who received an internship at BlackRock through OCR last summer, noted that “employers really appreciate some demonstrated interest in whatever you want to do.”
Arbour found that many of his interviewers were interested in learning how much he knew about the various companies, and whether or not their missions suited his ambitions.
“I think the most important thing for success in OCR is to actually want the position you’re applying for and know a lot about it,” Arbour said. “It has to be genuine.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.