Ultra Vires


Balancing the Recruit and School

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and just love survive the recruit

I know what you’re thinking, “balance during the recruit? Please.”  Nevertheless, here are a few words of wisdom that might make your recruit experience a little less all-encompassing. 

Cover Letter & Resume Season: Balance? Sure! 

  1. Start Early

This part of the recruit is perhaps the easiest to procrastinate. That summer deadline? A lifetime away. It’s easy to let the weeks slip by, especially when they’re sunny and school-free. The reality is, being proactive is the only way to avoid a feverish frenzy of drafting and coffee chats (which I can assure you are best to avoid).

How early should you start? There is no one answer but, at the risk of saying something almost definite: the earlier the better—and probably earlier than you think. It may seem intuitive,  but this allows you to spread the burden of cover letter revision, resume drafting, and coffee-chat planning, which will all eat up much more time than you would hope. 

Start early and you can enjoy your free time, and have a sense of relief when your friends are panicking at the last minute! 

  1. Have a Plan 

This might seem like common sense, but when stress is high, it’s easy to dive right in and go about your preparation in a, shall we say, less than ideal way. Starting with the Career Development Office (CDO) resources gives you a sense of what the recruit process looks like at a high level, allowing you to figure out how much time you have to work with and what you should be prioritizing. 

It also helps you avoid wasting time reinventing the wheel when it comes to things like resume formatting. 

On-Campus Interviews (OCIs): You can have a little bit of balance, as a treat 

  1. Start Early (Again)

A little bit of recruit preparation adds up, and means you can keep up with readings and even P that Admin midterm. As much as you want to avoid the last minute cover letter drafting, you definitely want to avoid the last minute mock interview sprint. 

  1. Schedule Downtime 

It’s productive! You might find you develop more insightful answers or start to see a theme in your application materials. All things that can help you stand out in a 17-minute interview. You also need to chill. Seriously. 

  1. Be Strategic

Look to the CDO question bank and use them to guide your preparation. This will give you a sense of how in-depth your preparation should be and will help you avoid over-preparing. If you wish you had more time to deep dive into your favourite firms, fear not, you’ll get your chance during in-firms. 

Also, mock early, and mock often. The more practice, the better. And the earlier you begin, the less this will interfere with your other obligations. 

In-Firms: Time to develop a new definition of “balance”

  1. The Macro Balance Mindset

This is marginally less cynical than it sounds. The reality is, in-firm interviews can take up to three full days. And even if they don’t, the process is exhausting and you’ll need whatever spare time you have to decompress, reflect, and prepare for the next day.

There’s a good chance each day won’t look like the definition of balance between finding time to exercise, getting proper sleep, and preparing for the next day, or perhaps, catching-up on schoolwork given the interviews.

While you may not be able to have balanced days, you can have a balanced reading week. Remembering that you’ll have a few days after interviews where you can relax will give you something to look forward to. 

  1. Sort Out the Little Things

Whether it’s meal prepping, stocking up on snacks, or laying out your interview outfit, try to get the little stuff out of the way in advance. It makes the process a little smoother and means more of your downtime is actually downtime. 

One final piece of advice: Get a recruit buddy. Seek out an upper year, someone who knows the process first-hand.  As much as it’s great to have someone to complain to, they can also give you a sense of how to best prepare, and advice on whether you’re doing too much or not enough. I know that the recruit would have been a lot rougher for me without mine! 

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