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HODP x OCS Career Fairs: Fun for Freshmen or Solely Seniors?

Opportunities abound, but graduation year is a gatekeeper.

By Daniela Shuman, Moritz Pail & Robin Robinson


You’re a sophomore interested in consulting. Is it worth taking a couple hours out of your busy day to travel all the way to the SOCH and network with consulting firms at the OCS Career Fair? Judging by the data from the 2019 Consulting Career Fair, it doesn’t look like you should go.

What else does the data tell us? We analyzed the data from 10 of Harvard’s Career Fairs: Biotech, Business and Tech, Consulting, Data and Tech, Diversity Opportunities, Engineering, Fintech, Media and Marketing, Non-profit, and Start-ups. The Office of Career Services website offers data on which companies attended the career fairs and to which class years they offered opportunities. We weren’t able to analyze all career fairs Harvard’s hosted due to a lack of data. One caveat to this analysis is that there is overlap between career fairs, since one opportunity could have been presented at multiple fairs.

Here is what we found out about summer opportunities for Harvard undergraduate students.


Freshmen are likely to find opportunities available in the engineering/tech fields. The Business and Tech Fair offered a whopping 23 opportunities for freshmen with Engineering closely behind at 18. Data and Tech companies similarly offered 16 opportunities.

It is important to note that these tech career fairs generally have more companies, and yet they have proportionally more opportunities for freshmen.

Opportunities for Freshmen per Career Fair 2019Figure 1: The number of opportunities open to freshmen per career fair in 2019.

The Non-profit Fair, however, led in the opportunities offered for freshman with 25 opportunities and Start-ups in a close 2nd with 23 opportunities. We reason that start-ups do not have a preference for what classes were taken, nor do they have nearly as strong of a goal in recruitment. Rather, their priorities lie in getting work done cheaply and quickly. This is why any intern is valuable for a start-up and likely why they offer so many opportunities for younger students.

Opportunities for Sophomores per Career Fair 2019Figure 2: The number of opportunities open to sophomores per career fair in 2019.

Our data suggests a similar pattern for sophomores. However, there are generally more opportunities at each fair than for freshmen. With only 3 internship opportunities, Consulting again remains in last place. The Biotech, Fintech, and Media and Marketing Fairs are also on the lower end of the ranking. Data and Tech, Diversity Opportunities, and Engineering are somewhere in the middle with 23, 28, and 25 opportunities respectively. Just like for freshmen, the most opportunities for sophomores were from the Business and Tech, Non-profit, and Start-ups Fairs. This indicates that freshmen and sophomores are seen similar in the eyes of employers.

Opportunities for Juniors per Career Fair 2019Figure 3: The number of opportunities open to juniors per career fair in 2019.

For juniors we see a major increase across the board in all industries.

Juniors are especially valuable for recruitment, along with seniors, not only because of their experience, but also because they are more likely to join the company after graduation.

We see this reflected in the huge jump in companies that offer opportunities in consulting especially, considering how scarce opportunities were for underclassmen. However, there wasn’t a big increase in Media and Marketing.

Figure 4: The number of opportunities open to seniors per career fair in 2019.

Seniors had a relatively similar pattern to juniors. Every industry offered all their opportunities to seniors, as we expected. Although it is important to note, as mentioned above, that business and tech career fairs offer many more opportunities total, which skews the proportions for the underclassmen.

Here are the final proportions:

Figure 5: The number of career fair opportunities for each class in 2019.


The purpose of this project was to give students some insight on how helpful career fairs would be for their particular industry and year.

We noticed that tech and engineering career fairs (Business and Tech, Data and Tech, and Engineering) offered more opportunities in general to Harvard students.

And because of this underclassmen have some benefit if they are looking for tech opportunities. In other fields, underclassmen aren’t provided with nearly as many opportunities. If you’re a freshman, it is definitely helpful to go to career fairs for software jobs, particularly if you’re interested in startups, since they seem to be more open to younger students and you’re less likely to hear of them if you don’t attend. But maybe look elsewhere for consulting or fintech opportunities.

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