New MBAs are warned early and often about the fall recruiting process. Everyone told me it started early in the fall before you even had a chance to memorize your locker combination. They lied; that warning was about three months too generous.
In planning to pursue investment banking, I understood the recruiting process would be challenging, consisting of company briefings on campus, networking events with the Tuck recruiting teams, frequent trips to New York on Fridays (including the ten hour round trip bus ride on the Dartmouth Coach), informationals and coffee chats. And this is all only in hopes of getting offered an interview, then comes the fun part of prepping to walk through a discounted cash flow model. Of course for anyone who willingly signs up for 100-hour workweeks, the challenge is a little exhilarating. It was for all these reasons I welcomed the chance to get a head start.
There are a number of opportunities to start the recruiting process for banking the summer before school starts. I attended the Forte Foundation Financial Services Fast Track Conference in New York in early June and the JumpStart Conference in Chicago in mid July. These were great opportunities to learn about the industry (Jumpstart focused on investment banking whereas Forte included information on asset management as well as sales and trading), meet senior executives of the sponsor companies, network with recruiters and meet fellow students from different programs. I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities no matter where you are in your decision making process of what you plan to pursue post MBA. These events offer a general overview of the industry if you are new to financial services as well as detailed information about identifying the right company culture and how associates are placed in specific coverage or product groups if you are further along in the process. Even if upon gathering more information you realize financial services is not for you, you still saved yourself quite a bit of time and stress the following fall.
If you do however plan to pursue this career path, having established relationships with the recruiters will allow you to pick up the conversation in the fall rather than introduce yourself along with hundreds of other students they meet in any given week. Additionally, you can start reaching out to alums at an organization as well as current students who are spending the summer there to better decide if that company is one you want to actively target. As with business school admissions, while there are a number of organization you could join, it is about finding the one that is the right fit and actively targeting a few rather than spreading yourself too thin pursing every opportunity.