Policies & FAQs

Students often ask, Why there are so many rules in the OCS Recruiting Program? The policies and procedures have been developed to maximize the opportunities for students while ensuring fairness among students, among employers, and in their interactions with each other.

We are consistent about deadlines and policies with all participants. Since this program is a potential bridge to the working world, we are also communicating an important lesson about that world: in a job, it is important to learn the rules and meet the deadlines.

Please note that you will also see some of these policies linked to the relevant content elsewhere in the OCS Recruiting Program web pages.

Application Policies & FAQs


Application deadlines are listed on Crimson Careers and the OCS Recruiting Program Calendar. As the calendar indicates, the vast majority of full-time and summer job deadlines are on Wednesdays at 11:59pm and about two weeks prior to the employer visit. The exception is “open” interview schedules, which have a deadline two days prior to the employer visit date. Any other exceptions will be listed on our website. 

Plan ahead. You must be registered with the OCS Recruiting Program and logged in to Crimson Careers in order to submit any application materials for a given deadline. Deadlines are final and strictly enforced.

Only those students who have submitted materials and applied to employers through Crimson Careers may interview with employers. If you decide to submit your application materials to an employer outside of the OCS Recruiting Program listing in Crimson Careers, you will have to make separate arrangements to meet with the employer.


General Questions


Q. Does the application process change when interviews are held virtually?

Even when interviews place virtually, the application and signup process will still be conducted via Crimson Careers. Students will not be eligible to interview if they do not apply for the position through Crimson Careers.


Q. Can employers see the saved document titles on Crimson Careers

Employers cannot "browse" or see any portion of your Crimson Careers profile apart from those specific documents that you actively submit to them. However, once you submit an application, an employer can see the submitted documents, including the document title. Therefore, name your documents carefully. For example, you do not want to send a document called “Consulting Letter” to a nonprofit organization!  

Q. How do I attach my GPA or SAT scores? 

If an employer requests GPA and/or SAT scores, simply include them in your resume. A separate document is not necessary. See the resume section of the OCS website for some examples. If you are missing some grades on your transcript, whether it is because a professor is late turning in grades or some other reason, you must calculate your GPA omitting the missing grades, even if the professor has told you what the grade will be. See below for more information about your Unofficial Transcript.

Q. Why is the employer asking me to apply on their website in addition to Crimson Careers

Some employers, whether for legal or tracking purposes, require students ALSO to complete applications through the organization’s website. If an online application is required, the employer's web address will be given, and you MUST complete BOTH the online application at the company website AND the Crimson Careers application to be considered for a campus interview.  

Q. How do I make changes to my OCS Recruiting Program application?

To make any changes to an existing OCS Recruiting Program application, you must withdraw your application and resubmit with the corrected and/or new documents. Changing the documents within your document tab on Crimson Careers does not change the documents in your submitted application(s). For this reason, we recommend that you think of your application as something FINAL that you have mailed out. You can withdraw without penalty as long as you have time to resubmit before the deadline, but we caution that you give yourself ample time. DO NOT withdraw after the deadline unless you are withdrawing your candidacy altogether. You will not be able to reapply at all if you withdraw after the deadline. See the "How to Change/Withdraw an Existing Application" section above for more details.

Q. Is it okay to apply to multiple divisions or multiple positions at one organization?

Yes, you can apply to more than one division or position. However, keep in mind that it is in your best interest to tailor your application materials to each opportunity. That way, you both increase your chances for each position AND demonstrate that you are not just applying indiscriminately. Remember, the job or internship search is not a numbers game; it is about finding and demonstrating “fit.”

Cover Letter Questions

Q. How do I know if a cover letter is required on Crimson Careers

When you click the “Apply” button on the right-hand side of a position description, all the required documents appear in the “Apply Box.”

Q. If a cover letter is not required, should I submit one anyway? 

For OCS Recruiting Program positions, no, and the OCS Recruiting Program system will not let you submit one. However, note that if an employer is asking you ALSO to apply through their own organizational website, they may ask you to submit a cover letter (or answer application questions) through their site even if they do not ask for a cover letter via Crimson Careers. For non-Recruiting Program positions, you should also generally follow instructions, but you may add a cover letter if you have a compelling reason why it would add value to your candidacy. NOTE: For OCS Recruiting Program positions, all documents listed in the "apply" section are considered required documents.

Q. To whom do I address my cover letter? 

Unless there is a separate contact listed somewhere in the body of the position description, you should use the contact information posted on Crimson Careers. You can find the correct contact person's name on the bottom of the position description in Crimson Careers. Make sure that you spell the person's name correctly! If you do not find a contact name, “To Whom It May Concern” is sufficient. 

Q. What should I say in my cover letter? 

Your cover letter is your chance to demonstrate how your skills and interests fit with the specific opportunity, employer, and industry to which you're applying. It should demonstrate that you have carefully read the position description and can explain how you would contribute in that role. Also see the cover letter section of the OCS website.

Q. How do I get my cover letter reviewed at OCS?

OCS drop-in hours are the easiest way to get a cover letter reviewed at OCS. Drop-in hours will be held virtuall Monday through Friday, 1:00-4:00pm. Log into the queue starting at 1pm ET for a document review. You can swipe back in as often as you need. If you make an appointment with an OCS adviser to review cover letters, plan to have two or three documents with you to fill the 30-minute appointment.

Unofficial Transcript Questions

Q. How do I upload my "Unofficial Transcript" for applications in Crimson Careers

  1. There are multiple ways to access your “unofficial transcript.”  Most students are familiar with accessing it from the my.harvard.edu "Student Home" page. Navigate to the Student Home page > Grades > and then select the "view unofficial transcript" link. 
  2. PRINT to .PDF the first page of your “Unofficial Transcript”/Student Record (requires Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is available on the computers at OCS, your House, and the Harvard computer labs).
    1. If you are away from campus and do not have access to Adobe Professional, then you may take a screenshot of the first page of your transcript and save the image file in order to remove the encryption.
  3. Login to Crimson Careers and upload the PDF of your transcript from the “Documents” tab.
  4. ALWAYS preview your documents from the “Documents” tab to make sure they are uploaded properly.

Q. Can I really use my Unofficial Transcript from my.harvard.edu or my Student Record, or do I need to order an official transcript? 

Sometimes students are concerned about using their Unofficial Transcript from my.harvard.edu or their Student Record because it is not an "official" transcript, but it is absolutely recommended and expected by employers. Realize that employers are asking for an unofficial transcript, and the moment you open any Registrar's document and convert it to a .pdf it becomes unofficial. Even though the Student Record does not have the full course titles, the vast majority of transcripts are reviewed by Harvard alums who understand the course shorthand.

Q. Do I really need to *print* to pdf my Student Record/Unofficial Transcript?

YES! If you attempt just to save to PDF your Student Record/Unofficial Transcript from the registrar's website directly, it will still have security encryption that prevents the employer from batch printing the documents after the deadline. The PDF will LOOK fine to you in Crimson Careers, but when the employer tries to PRINT their huge stack of Harvard applications to copy and distribute to reviewers, your transcript will be blank.

Q. What if my transcript has a missing grade because my professor has not finished grading?

Employers are accustomed to seeing the occasional missing grade given the timing of internship hiring and the delay that sometimes occurs when students return from studying abroad. Remember that employers want to see your transcript because they care as much about the courses you’ve taken as the grades you’ve earned, so include the most up-to-date version of your document, even if it is missing grades. Calculate your GPA omitting the courses that do not yet have grades. Feel free to email the recruiter(s) an updated version of your transcript when it is complete.

Q. What if my transcript has an ABS (Harvard’s version of an incomplete) because I had to postpone a final?

In these cases, we instruct students to calculate their GPA without this course and indicate something resembling the following on their resume: "(omits one ABS course pending make-up exam in February)." All employers are emailed in advance notifying them that they might see resumes with this indication. Plan to email the recruiter(s) an updated version of your transcript when it is complete.

Q. What if I want to make a note about something, like a missing grade, on my transcript? 

DO NOT make any notes or alterations to your Student Record or transcript. Altering your Harvard transcript could be construed as misrepresenting your Harvard record, which is an Ad Board offense. If absolutely necessary, you can make a note as the second page of your resume or cover letter, but make it extremely brief. Alternatively, email the recruiter at one of your favorite employers and ask their advice. 

Interview Policies & FAQs

Cancellation Policy

Please check your schedule carefully to avoid conflicts. Students may freely change an interview time or cancel an interview using Crimson Careers as long as it is before 9:00am ET two calendar days in advance of the interview date. This allows time for an alternate to sign up in that interview slot and prepare for that interview.

Students may not cancel an interview with less than two calendar days notice. Cancelling an interview with short notice:

  • deprives a fellow student the opportunity to interview with that employer
  • wastes the time of the employer who has allocated their time to conduct interviews
  • reflects poorly on Harvard on the whole and can damage the long-term relationship between Harvard and that employer

We understand that emergencies arise. If there is an emergency or you are severely ill, and it is after 9:00am ET two calendar days before your interview, you must contact the OCS Recruiting Program Office at ocsrec@fas.harvard.edu as soon as possible. This way, we can attempt to find an alternate to fill your interview slot.

Students cannot cancel a first-round interview for a second- or final-round interview. See the "Second-Round Interview Policy" for more details.

Cancellation Policy


You may freely cancel an interview through Crimson Careers...

...if the interview is more than 2 calendar days away

You must contact the OCS Recruiting Program Office immediately...

 ...if you need to cancel within 2 calendar days of your interview (only permitted in cases of emergency or severe illness)

No Show Policy

Not showing up for an interview is extremely disrespectful of an employer’s time, denies other Harvard candidates the opportunity to interview, and jeopardizes Harvard’s positive relationship with employers. We take this offense very seriously, and will put a hold on your Crimson Careers account and prohibit you from applying to or signing up for any further interviews until you meet with the Director of the OCS Recruiting Program. A letter of explanation and apology to the recruiter involved must be written before reinstatement in the program. Failure to comply with the No Show Policy may result in your removal from the OCS Recruiting Program. In case of an emergency, explain your situation to someone in the Recruiting Office as soon as possible (ocsrec@fas.harvard.edu).

Second Round Policy

Employers and students must both follow the timeline listed below when arranging second-round interviews because students are not permitted to cancel a first-round interview for a second-round interview. Employers are not obligated to reschedule first-round interview dates. These policies are in place to ensure that student do not have to cancel first-round interviews for second-round interviews. 

Second-Round Interview Policies 

  • Students cannot cancel a first-round interview for a second-round interview with another employer. Employers have planned months in advance to hold first-round interviews on a particular day. Thus, they have also agreed to our policies stating that they must give students flexibility with scheduling second-round interviews, especially if they conflict with another first-round. If you have an issue or a concern with an employer, please contact the Recruiting Office at  ocsrec@fas.harvard as soon as possible so we can help.


Q. Why am I still listed as "Pending" next to my OCS Recruiting Program application in Crimson Careers

There are a few possible reasons for this:

  1. The employer has not yet made any interview decisions in Crimson Careers.
    Employers are instructed to follow a particular timeline for entering their interview decisions. To determine an employer's deadline, log in to Crimson Careers and navigate to Interviews > OCS Recruiting Program Applications to see your Recruiting Program applications. Next to your "Pending" status you will see a field titled "Signups Start." The employer decision deadline is usually 11:59pm one calendar day prior to the signups start date (i.e., if the Signups Start = "Sept 24, 2020," then the employer must make decisions by 11:59pm, Sept 23, 2020).
  2. The employer has missed their decision deadline.
    Just like students, employers sometimes struggle to complete their tasks on time. Whenever possible, we adjust the "Signups Start" date to indicate the employer deadline change, but depending on the timing of communication, this is not always the case.
  3. The employer has not yet made a decision about your candidacy.
    Employers sometimes take longer to make a decision about a particular student. In these cases, the student sometimes ends up as an "alternate," but for whatever reason, the employer is still evaluating you. Similarly, when entering their decisions in Crimson Careers, employers usually enter first their "invited" candidates, then their "alternate" candidates, and finally their "not invited" candidates. Thus, there is sometimes a delay before students learn that they are an alternate or not invited.
  4. The employer has failed to indicate that students are "not invited."
    Despite our almost constant prompting, some employers neglect this step in the process. If the "Signup Start" date has passed and it is less than one week before the interview date, it is fair to assume that you are not invited. However, we do as much as we can to ensure that employers indicate their decision for all applicants.

Q. I have been "invited" to interview, but I cannot sign-up for an interview time. Why is that?
There are a few possible reasons for this:

  1. The "Signups Start" date has not begun.
    To determine the signups start date, login to Crimson Careers and navigate Interviews > OCS Recruiting Program Applications to see your Recruiting Program applications. Next to your "Invited" status you will see a field titled "Signups Start." Regardless of when an employer makes a decision prior to this date, students still cannot signup for an interview time until 12:00am on the signup start date. For example, if the Signups Start = "Sept 24, 2020," then invited students can start signing up for interview times at 12:00am on Sept 24, 2020 (i.e. midnight Sept 23/Sept 24).
  2. The "Signups End" date has passed.
    To determine the signups end date, login to Crimson Careers and navigate Interviews > OCS Recruiting Program Applications to see your Recruiting Program applications. Next to your "Invited" status you will see a field titled "Signups End." Typically, signups end at 11:59pm two calendar days prior to the interview date (i.e., if the Interview Date = "Oct 1, 2020," the signups end at 11:59pm on Sep 29, 2020). The OCS Recruiting Program Team suggests that students signup for an interview time as soon as possible to avoid running up against the signups end date. Email ocsrec [at] fas.harvard.edu to see if there are any interview times available, but please note there may not be.
  3. The "Alternate Signup" period has begun.
    Alternates can begin to signup for available interview times at 12:00am three calendar days prior to the interview date (i.e., if the Interview Date = "Oct 1, 2020," the alternates' signup start is at 12:00am on Sept 28, 2020 - which is midnight Sept 27/Sept 28). Thus, if you attempt to signup for an interview time after the alternate signup has begun, you may find that no times are available. The OCS Recruiting Program Team suggests that students signup for an interview time as soon as possible to avoid running up against the alternate signup period. Email ocsrec [at] fas.harvard.edu to see if there are any interview times available, but please note there may not be.
  4. The employer has oversubscribed their interview schedule.
    On a very rare occasion, an employer may accidentally select more candidates to interview than they have allotted time. Thus, if you are the last to signup for an interview time, you may find that no times are available. If you feel like this is the case given the various signup timelines indicated above, email ocsrec [at] fas.harvard.edu as soon as possible. We will work with the employer to ensure you have an interview. 

Q. How do I change my interview time?

  • If there are open times still available, students are able to reschedule interview times through Crimson Careers up until the schedule “freezes” at 9:00am one day before the interview date. Navigate to the “interviews” tab in Crimson Careers, then the “scheduled interviews” sub-tab, then click the “Reschedule” button on the right-hand side of your interview list to review and select from remaining times. If all of the interview times are taken, contact the OCS Recruiting Program Office at ocsrec[at]fas.harvard.edu and we will email you a list of students on your interview schedule. You can contact those students to see if someone is willing to “swap” times with you. To finalize the swap, you and the other student must BOTH email the Campus Interview Program Office, and we will then make the change on Crimson Careers.

Offer Policies, Decision Date Guidelines, & FAQs

Policies & Decision Date Guidelines

All employers participating in the OCS Recruiting Program (which includes all interviews conducted off-campus with students whose resumes have come to employers through our resume drops) as well as employers who utilize OCS promotional channels (including fairs, networking and information sessions, coffee chat/office hours, etc.) are asked to extend the timetable below to Harvard candidates. At the same time, students are expected to be active decision makers, avoid waiting until the last minute, and honor commitments and agreements that they make during the recruiting process.

Note these dates are guidelines. Several employers have communicated the difficulty posed by lengthy offer decision windows in light of COVID-19. OCS maintains that students should have at least through the end of their summer experience to decide about opportunities beginning the following summer. After that point, 2-week or longer decision windows may be permitted. Students may ask for additional flexibility, and we are happy to advise and advocate on students’ behalf on a case by case basis. 

Full-time & Internship Hiring Acceptance Deadlines

Offer Decision Deadlines

All employers that utilize and benefit form OCS resources*  are asked to extend the following timetable to Harvard candidates:

Offers for Opportunities Beginning in 2021

Timing of Offer 

Decision Deadline

Full-time or Intern offer extended now - end of term (May 15, 2021)

2 Weeks from Date of Offer   

Offers for Opportunities Beginning in 2022

Timing of Offer 

Decision Deadline

Full-time offer extended prior to September 1, 2021
OR as a result of a previous summer internship
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Intern offer extended prior to September 1, 2021
OR as a result of a previous summer internship
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Full-time or Intern offer extended
September 1, 2021 - October 21, 2021
Thursday, November 4, 2021

Full-time or Intern offer extended October 22, 2021 or later

2 Weeks from Date of Written Offer                                                                                                      

*OCS Resources = career fairs & expos, networking nights, interviews, information sessions, coffee chats/office hours, events promoted on OCS calendar/email lists, OCS Recruiting Program posting including prior years, etc.

No Exploding Offers. We expect employers to honor all offers made to students. Exploding offers are prohibited and refer to any condition that places undue pressure on the student to accept early (e.g., "We have 10 offers outstanding for 8 openings and will accept the first 8 students who accept," or “We will extend an offer if you agree to accept today,” etc.). If you receive an exploding offer or have a concern about offer deadlines, please contact the OCS Recruiting Program Office right away at ocsrec@fas.harvard.edu.
Students should always insist on receiving offers in writing. Please examine the contract you sign very carefully. Students who renege on offers after both parties have signed will be denied future access to the OCS Recruiting Program.



Q. What is the salary range for OCS Recruiting Program positions?

The organizations that participate in the OCS Recruiting Program range from nonprofits to retailers to financial services firms. Thus, there is a wide range of possibilities in terms of compensation. We recommend several resources for benchmarking salaries and other benefits in the Decision Making section of our website. For junior internships (between junior and senior academic years), many employers in finance and consulting will pay the equivalent of their full starting salary, prorated for the length of the internship. Note that this is not universal, and does not usually apply to students prior to junior year.

Q. I've received an offer from an employer, are there resources to help me navigate this stage? 

OCS is happy to be a resource to students during all stages of the job and internship search. See the 2020 Managing Offers Webinar Transcription (pdf) and 2020 Managing Offers recording for advice on advocating for yourself while maintaining good professional relationships. The Evaluating & Negotiating Offers section of our website has resources to assess your offer including the OCS Job Offer publication. OCS advisers are also available to help you consider your options. Schedule an appointment with an OCS adviser in Crimson Careers or email ocsrec@fas.harvard.edu for help with a time-sensitive offer question.