Highlights from the Recruiting Season

March 20, 2008

Now that spring break is over and the recruiting season is officially behind me (having accepted an offer for the summer) I thought it might be a good idea to share some of more memorable moments and experiences of the recruiting season.

During my undergraduate education, I rested easy with the knowledge that my post-graduate employment was assured. As my friends sweated out their recruiting efforts (attending job fairs, dropping resumes, shaking hands, preparing for interviews, etc.), I could relax, knowing that my ROTC obligation included a guarantee of employment as a military officer for pretty much as long as I wanted it (which turned out to be 5 years).

So, the result was that, prior to this winter, I hadn’t had a real job interview since… well, I landed a job selling shoes at a local shopping mall when I was 19. Somehow I knew that that wouldn’t exactly serve as quality experience for the rigor of consulting interviews. So, I took advantage of the myriad of resources available at Darden to prepare for my interview experience: mock interviews with Career Development Center (CDC) reps and experienced second-year students, workshops, InterviewStream (online software/web-cam tool that lets you practice your interviews and review your performance), and lots of practice with my fellow first-year students.

I’m happy to report that it all worked… I received several very appealing offers from great firms and companies. However, there were some interesting moments I’d like to share. These are some of my favorite experiences, ranked in no particular order (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

1. CDF Consulting: Mike, as you know, we really place a high value on quantitative skills at CDF Consulting, and we noticed that during your undergraduate education, you received a poor grade in a math course. Can you reconcile this for us?

Me (thinking): Oh my God, really? REALLY? That was, what, 8 years ago? How do I answer this? Should I tell them I partied too much and skipped too many classes? That I was 19 and somehow underestimated a class called “Vector Calculus”? Who would have guessed that would be hard?

Me (saying): I appreciate the opportunity too address this. I overscheduled coursework that semester and I was working too many hours in a part time job. I learned an important lesson about prioritization during that experience, and you can see that in subsequent semesters my grades in even more complex quant courses improved dramatically. Additionally, I am performing very well in my quant coourses here at Darden, including Decision Analysis and Finance.

Afterthought: I handled this one fairly well, but my surprise (and horror) at having an 8-year-old grade pulled off my transcript and put before me must have registered on my face. I didn’t receive an invitation for a second-round interview with this firm.

2. Beer-Jamison Thompson Consulting: No offense, but you look young. How do you think you’ll handle working with much more experienced managers when you’re in a consulting capacity?

Me (thinking): MONEY!

Me (saying): That’s interesting, because I ran into the credibility gap problem in the military quite often and early. I came into a job where I was 22 and was, fresh out of college, responsible for leading 40 Soldiers. Most of my subordinate leaders were many years older and were experienced. I learned very quickly that the most important thing was to focus on implementing change as needed without insulting anyone or coming across as condescending. Taking ownership of the problem, instead of assigning blame, is the attitude… simply saying “we” instead of “you” made a lot of money, and I think it would help with experienced clients as well in a consulting role.

Afterthought: I was ready for this one, and I nailed it. I was not offended at all (in fact, it was a happy boost to my ego!), and it gave me an opportunity to share a part of my experience that would conceivably help me in my next career. I received an offer from this firm.

3. Oversmell Consulting (email): We found your credentials impressive, but at this time, due to the highly competitive process, we have made our selection for the next round and will not pursue further interviews with you at this time.

Me (no kidding): This is interesting, not because this is what we call a “ding” email, telling me that they’ve decided to forgo further consideration of my candidacy, but because I never even interviewed with this firm. After receiving other offers, I dropped my interview with this firm, in an effort to give my slot to an alternate. Nonetheless, they decided to “ding” me… I guess it truly wasn’t meant to be.

Darden (and all the resources that comes with Darden) really prepared me for most of the curve balls I saw during recruiting. For all these crazy ancedotes that I have (and only the top three are listed here), there are many, many more that I’ve heard about from my fellow classmates. Sitting on an accepted offer at Spring Break is a great place to be, but the effort isn’t truly over until the last classmate and friend has also secured a good offer. It’s the least I could do in return for all the help I’ve received this winter.


3 Responses to “Highlights from the Recruiting Season”

  1. Mohnish said

    good noble thoughts dude…i specially liked the last para

  2. miguel,
    welcome back! sad i don’t have d.a. with you this quarter. wah.
    congrats on the internship and on the lessons you chose to glean out of it.
    the evidence is pointing not toward consulting but modeling, silly. young, educated, disciplined and able to party? sold. =)

  3. […] Darden One Day at a Time muses over the most memorable highlights from the recruiting season. […]

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