Thursday, October 09, 2008

And let recruiting season begin (or, the economy is in the crapper and you just spent $100k on a fancy MBA, now what?)

So last night was the first round of invitation interviews. As mentioned previously, pickings are slim, firms continue to cancel interviews and I am allowing myself to be picky. In sum - on campus recruiting is virtually done for me before it even started.

There are 4 firms coming to campus that I am applying to and as of last night, two (massive, well-known, long-only types) have decided not to invite me to interview. As both close listed me last year this can only mean that they were put off by my summer hedge fund dalliance, my interviews last winter were worse than I thought (laugh) or that my fellow 2nd years are very new and improved after a summer.

But rather than being disappointed I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I have all the points in the world to bid on these firms but I don't really want to. I don't have a good long stock pitch. I don't find the idea of working at a massive, well-known, long-only fund all that appealing and I didn't really enjoy my interviews with them last year. I applied because I felt that I should be doing something.

I find it continually surprising how frequently I find myself ignoring my intuition in this MBA experience. Applying for firms I don't want to work for, trying to attend the wrong social events, taking too many finance and accounting courses which aren't really broadening my knowledge base.

Does it matter if I find a job right now? No. It would be nice to be done with the process but I didn't come to the GSB to find a job. I came the GSB to transform my career and life trajectory. And I'm not going to do that by trudging down everyone else's well worn path. I have until next summer to find a position and I'm sure I will. And I much prefer doing things my own way anyway. On campus recruiting gives me hives.

It strikes me that despite all the corporate blather about "out of the box" thinking that few understand the reality of living beyond the well worn path. True contrariness (much talked about in investment land) is somewhat uncomfortable and lonely and at times a really bad idea. And while I think I'm still trying to figure out where this so-called box is (i.e. I do consider myself somewhat of a contrarian), separating out which career choices/decisions are reasonable and which are foolish is much easier said than done.

But I also came into the quarter feeling that it would turn out as it was meant to be. Meaning, the job search process, especially in IM, is like an intricate mating ritual and individuals who find successful long-term relationships seem to be those with the patience to take their time and wait for the right partner rather than jumping into the arms of the first willing suitor who comes along. Despite all the upheaval and still uncertain offer status from my summer employer, I think it was the best internship opportunity for me. It really was a great fit and I felt good about it from the beginning. And in some ways, I feel that if I don't find the right investment management position by the end of the year, it may be a sign that I was meant to do something else with my life. I think in the end I will come out of the GSB with a clearer sense of career purpose and fit then I had going in. And a rotten economy actually helps me focus.

So what now? Well, I really regret not taking 4 courses this quarter so that I could take 4 in the winter and only 2 in the spring. So, given my lack of recruiting activity and open course schedule I think I will try to find a inter-year internship to keep my skills fresh and develop some useful references. I'm going to try to work through my unread pile of books and magazines and articles, get some exercise, make friends with the first years, play with my entrepreneurial ambitions, have a baby, make friends with the alumni base ... and maybe try to find a job.

Over and Out.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I structured all my classes around the assumption of being busy with recruiting but have been less than interested in anything on campus. I think I've applied to 5 or 6 jobs out of feeling I had to apply for SOMETHING, but really have no interest in them and am now just hoping I don't make their closed lists. Or that I'll at least have the courage of my convictions to just decline if I am invited (I also find myself ignoring my intuition all the time since arriving at the GSB. Why do we do this???). I think many of us are going to be finding our own paths this year.

Anonymous said...

Follow your intuition! Catching up on your posts, you seem so uninterested in IM and banking, so walk away! Take that spare energy and find a job you'll like. Take *all* that spare energy. You so desperately want to do something else, so actually start on that path! Otherwise, you are truly wasting your MBA experience -- more doors will open for you as a student than once you graduate.