By Mark Pasha, 2008 Wharton alum who concentrated in Finance and Real Estate, now at Real Estate UK Asset Recovery, RBS
My Recruiting Experience for an Internship in London
Recruiting for a position overseas can be a very fiddly process especially as an undergrad in the US. Most overseas companies focus their resources on the markets closest to home, and so opportunities can seem sparse. Moreover, there are usually fewer positions outside the US advertised through PennLink, which means that one must take a slightly more proactive role when conducting a job search.
My principal recruiting experience was for an internship in the finance / consulting world in London for the summer of 2007 and I was fortunate enough to be able to accept a position at RBS.
From my recruiting experience, a few lessons stand out.
1. Using PennLink
Firstly, although positions for jobs in London (or abroad in general) are not as widely listed on PennLink, one can still use the system as a reference for what types of positions to look for overseas. Especially for internships and entry level positions, many companies listing positions at Penn for US locations will most likely have similar positions / programmes in their overseas offices. I found it very useful to be able to use PennLink as an index for potential jobs and then visit each company’s websites to learn more about the specific opportunities they offer abroad. If there was a position overseas, then I was usually able to apply for it directly through the company’s website.
2. Following up online applications
However, doing just a web application did not always cut it, as sometimes applicants from the US get lost amongst the masses of domestic applications. As there is limited scope for face to face meetings at career fairs and presentations etc, I found that the next best thing was trying to follow up an application by emailing someone at the firm, be it an HR contact, or someone else via another avenue (perhaps a Penn alumnus). I found this to be a massively important step in getting the application on the firms radar and ultimately getting an interview. The mode of contact did not have to be anything formal, simply a few questions about applying from overseas in an email, however starting a dialogue with someone always proved most helpful indeed.
I did the majority of my interviews over the phone and was never asked to fly to London (although I know of a couple of people who were asked to). I did have one interview via video conference, which, whilst a bit odd at first, was probably a better experience than the phone interviews. It is easy to arrange through Career Services and I think most firms are happy to do it if you present the option to them.
The nature of interviews, depends more on the firm than the location. However, from my London experience, I found there to be a slightly more qualitative element than I had expected. There was definitely a little less emphasis on technical finance and accounting etc. based questions. I remember getting some brainteasers / logic problems, some simple maths problems, questions about the state of the market, as well as the typical resume based questions. Overall, I think the interview practice at Penn is perfect preparation as the processes (at least in the UK and the US) are not too dissimilar.
This is more of a London specific point, but a lot of people will say that the London recruiting timetable starts later than the US because universities go back later and so one can start recruiting later. Whilst it is true that universities start later in the year, I would not recommend putting off starting ones job search because of this. The range of application deadlines is very broad, with some deadlines the same as in the US. To avoid the pressures of meeting unknown or last minute deadlines, it is best to prepare early (even if that just means casually scoping out potential opportunities and deadlines over the summer or at the beginning of the school year). As a rule of thumb though, if one follows a similar timescale to US on campus recruiting, one should avoid any problems.
Editor’s note: Special thanks to Mark Pasha for providing his perspective and advice! For resources and tips for working abroad, visit Careers Services’ International Opportunities page.