Friday, January 18, 2013

Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me

I lied. I'm not out of this relationship.  I'm in. I'm so in, it's humiliating cause here I am begging. Shut up. You say, "Meredith," and I yell, remember. Okay, here it is. Your choice it's simple. Her or me. And I'm sure she's really great, but Derrick, I love you. In a really really big pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you love you. So, pick me. Choose me.  Love me. 

Replace Meredith with Cheetarah and Derrick with Nike/Google/Viacom/Warby Parker/etc. and you've got exactly how I'm feeling right now.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's January.  And January means recruiting.  Recruiting means sitting by the computer (or the phone) waiting for a company to pick me.  I'm so pathetic right now.

The Chicago Booth on campus recruiting machine has been churning at full speed since the beginning of fall quarter.  Within three weeks of classes starting 95% of my classmates morphed from casually dressed college students to suited up job hunters.  While they lunched and learned, coffee chatted, and corporate conversationed, I stuck to my jeans, leggings, sweats, and assorted Booth t-shirts and scavenged the leftover boxed lunches. It's well known that I didn't come to business school for the traditional career paths and even as the herd stormed the halls of Harper I felt no inclination to follow it.  My social impact loving ass was happy picking up more extracurricular activities than the law allows and poking my head into the on campus recruiting circus only when it suited me.

I knew before I got to Booth that the jobs I wanted wouldn't be offered up to me by an army of recruiters and that my job search would be more of a marathon to the end of the school year rather than an intense sprint that ends in early February.  If I liked a company's CSR or corporate foundation initiatives, only then would I attend a recruiting presentation (for functions in which I had no interest in working).  However, my main purpose in attending was to find out if there were opportunities in my area of interest and who I'd need to speak to in order to make something happen.  The strategy definitely wasn't foolproof.  I felt pretty ridiculous at one investment bank's presentation.  The amount of hair gel in the room was enough to freak me out for the entire 2 hour event.  Plus, I hadn't been to a single banking event all quarter and there I was in organized crop circles trying to answer the question, "So what area of banking are you interested in?" Ummm...
However, sometimes my forays into company presentations yielded promising results.  It turns out that more companies than I thought hire interns (well really more like AN intern) for their sustainability/corporate responsibility/corporate foundation teams.  Color me optimistic, but why can't one of those single spots be for me?  They definitely won't be if I don't apply, so that's what I've been doing.  Applying.  While cover letters aren't quite as taxing as admissions essays they are no less nerve wracking.  I spent at least 30 minutes debating with myself about how to address the recruiter for my Nike cover letter. I'm told that companies really don't read them anyways, but I still am scared shitless that the wrong salutation or closing could put the nail in my candidacy's coffin.  Once the submit button is pressed the only thing I can do is hope that I've pleaded my case enough for the companies I'm targeting to pick me (then keep picking me in subsequent rounds til they hand over an offer).

I see some signs that I'm making good progress.  Booth's career services team has been really supportive and has more resource than I can use for my off-campus search.  I've gotten great advice about companies to target from the career coaches too.  Best of all is being included in Booth's resume book.  This book is not just an exhibit that gathers dust on a shelf.  Employers actually pull resumes from it and reach out to students with backgrounds that they like.  I've added several companies to my target list by steering conversations with the ones who have contacted me toward opportunities in my areas of interest.  Also, there are a bunch of companies that don't visit campus but post internship positions on Booth's job board.  It's veritable treasure trove of cool and interesting companies (Dalberg, Warby Parker,, etc.) looking for talent in everything from marketing to strategy to finance and more.  But the biggest indication that I'm going in the right direction came this week in the form of an interview invite from a company at the top of my list. 

Since I am doing a combination of on-campus and off-campus recruiting (but mostly off campus) the hardest part is not to panic come February when so many of my classmates have their offers and I'm still searching.  While it would be great to get one of the few corporate foundation internships available through on-campus recruiting and to bow out of the recruiting game before spring break, I am being a pragmatist.  The majority of my opportunities won't reveal themselves until April or May or even June.  So until miracle or May happens I'm spending a whole lot of time giving my own version of the "Pick me, choose me, love me," speech to any company that will listen.

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