Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Give me a hand

Today I was invited to interview with a consulting firm for whom I would very much like to work. This is good news. The bad news is that consulting interviews are famously stressful, and I have never done one. In these interviews, you are, apparently, asked the typical types of behavioral questions ("Tell me a time when you overcame a challenge," "Walk me through your resume," "Explain why you want to do this," etc. ... although, actually, those are not questions, those are instructions). And in the latter half of the interview, you are given a case, or a problem to solve.

In most consulting interviews, a case is usually a strategy type of problem with calculations attached to them. The interviewers want to see how you approach and solve problems, to determine whether you are a logical and clever person who works well under pressure. For the firm interviewing me, though, the cases are supposedly more abstract, which could be good news for me, because I'm an abstract kinda guy.

Last night, I attended a fondue party, which eventually transformed into playing a game on the floor that caused the downstairs neighbors to slam what I assume was a broomstick against their ceiling, perhaps in Morse Code for "Shut up, please." The hosts of this party were my friend Jeremy and his wife, Tracy. Jeremy was in my pre-assigned work group of four last year, and thereafter we have voluntarily worked together in groups in several classes. He was, among other things in his past, a consultant. And what I have found to be true of the former consultants in our MBA program is that, on average, they're just the best at everything. They solve problems quickly, know their way around a spreadsheet, throw together beautiful PowerPoint presentations in the blink of an eye, have an energetic and positive demeanor in groups, and are just good at getting right to the point. Observing this is part of what prompted me to at least sorta-kinda explore consulting: I would like, in my career, to be someone with these traits. I don't feel I'm there yet, which is why I may not get the job, but I think I have potential, which is why I may get the job.

I had a great internship at the Associated Press over the summer, but at the same time I do envy my classmates who had the types of internships that ended with an official full-time offer. That would be such a relief and would really let me focus on learning, and my many activities. Then again, there's something to be said for not shutting any doors just yet. 

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