Saturday, February 9, 2008

So That's Where I've Been

The last two weeks have been relatively insane and have included constant rollercoaster type swings in my mood and mental state.

Looking around the apartment, I see that there’s still a ton of wintry slush outside, my cable bill is still sitting on the table unpaid, and my textbooks and school stuff are still scattered all over like the UofC bookstore stumbled back after a hard night of partying and vomited all over my living room.

So the material aspects of this apartment are the same, it’s just me that’s been flipping out and turning and twisting in all kinds of ways (including but not specifically limited to waking up at all parts of the night).

That’s what we know, or rather, what I knew, and what you now know.

And now it’s pretty close to being over, or if not completely over, at least approaching its final destination.

With that, I wanted to make sure I blogged about a couple business school truisms that have come to light.

1 – Recruiting completely sucks

2 – Hmm…I don’t have another universal truth right now, so just go back and re-read #1, that’s a big one

Just to give you a sense of how the process has been for one MBA student (me), here’s a basic timeline of my recruiting activities over the last couple weeks. And a point of clarification, each one of these interviews generally include 45 minutes of discussion focused on prior experience and business problem evaluations.

Tuesday – Two first-round interviews with Firm A, where I analyze a grocery store company, followed by the fictional nation of Elderstan (which is apparently not nearly as funny as the Borat version of Kazakhstan). Hit a rough patch in the first interview when interviewer responds to my first answer with, ‘would it help to think of another example?’

Wednesday – Two first-round interviews with Firm B, where I analyze a Women’s Products Catalog company, followed by a fictional city called Contrivedville. Turns out I know something about Women’s Products.

Wednesday Night – Reception for Firm C, who’s interviewing tomorrow. They don’t have food, so I just drink a good amount…seemed like a good strategy

Thursday – Two first round interviews with Firm C, where I analyze a food products manufacturer, followed by a chemical distribution company. Did you ever think that a $5 billion market segment with 10% CAGR would be an industry where you DON’T want to spend more marketing dollars? I never would have guessed.

Thursday Night – Reception for Firm D, they interview next week, but since I know almost nothing about them, I really think I should go. They also don’t have food, so we simply re-apply the strategy from last night.

Thursday Night – Voice mail from Firm A, ‘Thanks for playing! But kindly get the hell away from us.’ My soul hurts

Thursday Night (20 minutes later) – Call from Firm B, ‘We’re intrigued…come tell us more.’ Soul rebounds

Friday Morning – Two first round interviews with Firm E, only one of which requires me to analyze an airline business situation. Unfortunately the other one focuses on me. Drag.

Friday Afternoon – Suspicious voice mail from Firm C that doesn’t ding me. Could be good news right? I return the call. Nope, turns out they want to make sure to ding you directly. I also would have accepted an exploding telegram.

Friday Night – One first round interview with Firm F, where I analyze an insurance company. Interviewer’s hobbies include quilting and horses, so lots of common ground with me.

Saturday – Phone call (wait, consultants work weekends???) Firm F appreciated my interest, and if there was one problem, it’s that I was too good with numbers. I debate complimenting them on the quick turnaround, but am generally too distracted by the sound of my internship dreams bursting into flames

Monday morning – Two interviews with Firm G, where I analyze a tractor company followed by a cable company and their potential wireless strategy. Given my background in the industry, I’m instructed to forget what I know about the area. Surprisingly, this is not difficult.

Monday afternoon – Two interviews with Firm D, remember them??? Just one business problem, this time it’s an appliance manufacturer. Biggest takeaway: if you call and complain about a damaged product, the company will probably pay you to shut up and keep it. I am now eagerly awaiting my first refrigerator so that I can scratch the hell out of it.

Monday afternoon – One interview with Firm H, where we manage to discuss no business issues. Part of the session actually focuses on me explaining what Jeopardy is and as a follow-up, how I know so much stuff (the answer: complete luck, or I’ve just got some kind of random fact gene, which I guess would be luck too). Anyway, interview ends with an invitation to a final round interview. That was unexpected.

Monday afternoon – Phone call from Firm G. Recruiter sounds upbeat, maybe she enjoys crushing MBA students? Put another ding on the board.

Monday Night – I’m on the other line and ignore call waiting. Good instincts, it’s a ding call from Firm E. Almost forgot you were even there Firm E, now you’ve ensured I’ll do everything I can to truly forget you.

Tuesday Morning – Very enthusiastic phone call from Firm G, almost like she was looking forward to dinging me. Why would that make an HR person happy??? A great mystery.

Tuesday-Wednesday – No interviews, I actually go to class and stuff. So I’m taking marketing this quarter? Really???

Thursday Morning – One interview with Firm I. This is actually a large corporation looking for a strategy analyst. A nice change of pace, until it turns out the interviewer just joined from Firm C. Would I mind a consulting-style interview??? Funny you should ask…

Thursday Afternoon – Two interviews with Firm J, one focused on analyzing a lubricant manufacturer, and one focused on me. Much of the first interview centers around me battling giggles regarding the lube company.

Thursday Night – Phone call from Firm J. ‘That didn’t totally suck, come in tomorrow.’ I didn’t want to have any free time on Friday anyway.

Friday Morning – One interview with Firm J, with two senior consultants, about a media company. Did I mention I was in the Media & Entertainment Group??? An opportune time to put my ‘passion for media’ money where my mouth is.

Friday Afternoon – One interview with Firm K, another corporation focused in a pretty cool industry. Did I say I didn’t like the routine nature of my historical corporate finance roles? I meant I loved it. I would marry process-oriented corporate finance roles if I could, that’s the world I want to live in.

Friday Afternoon – One phone interview with Firm L. Take everything I said in every other interview and reverse it. ‘It’s a pretty weird situation, but yes I did come back to business school to get a job doing EXACTLY what I was doing before school.’ One bonus, tap-dancing doesn’t show over a phone interview, or so I hope.

Friday Afternoon – Two interviews with Firm M. Can’t figure out if the first interviewer likes what I have to say or if he just thinks I’m cute. Could be both? Second case, focused on car battery technologies, goes better, without any semblance of homoeroticism. I am much more comfortable in the second interview.

Friday Night – Phone Call, it’s Firm J, do you want a summer job??? Partner informs me that I was on the bubble, then they saw the Jeopardy thing on my resume, and that pushed me over the top. Ha-ha, is he joking? Half-joking? Frankly, I couldn’t care less. I use the opportunity to bust out my ‘Got a Job Dance.’ Thank god the blinds are drawn.

Saturday Morning – Phone call from Firm M…are you free to come back in on Monday? When it rains, it pours.

Saturday Afternoon – Try to remember everything for a blog post.

So that’s where I’ve been over the last couple weeks. It’s been a long strange trip, and one that’s not over for another week. I still have the big Firm B opportunity, which has been my focus since day 1. Firm H might force me to rethink any aversions I’d have towards the city of Troy. Who knows what Firm M is thinking. But what’s struck me about the whole process is how much of it is dependent on complete random luck.

Two identical candidates could interview with the same firm, and because of different interviewers, time slots, case questions, what they had for breakfast, or any other such thing, could get dinged or passed through. No rhyme, no reason. And yes, certain people who are more well prepared are significantly more likely to do better on average. But really, it all comes down to whether you click with them or not.

So if an interviewer ever makes eyes at you…I say go for it

1 comment:

Moshe said...

Wow congrats on getting through this experience, at least you can say you have an offer, I'm sure there are students who don't have any. Don't forget that some of the firms that come won't even hire anyone if they don't like them, since they're also going to Harvard, Wharton, and Yale to seek candidates for their internships. So who is the lucky company that did make you an offer?