Monday, November 29, 2010

Journalist accepts job offer, celebrates


In a way, I feel like I could shut this blog down today, because I reached what some consider the finish line of the MBA race: I accepted a full-time job offer. (I won't do that, though; we're not quite at the 75% completion mark, so there are still adventures to be had, and shared.)

I will be working for Deloitte, the world's largest professional-services firm (hence one of the "Big Four"), as a senior consultant in the company's Human Capital service area, in what's called the Organization & Talent service line. I will be helping clients, most of whom are big companies, with the "people" issues that arise during a major challenge or transition, such a merger or a new strategic endeavor. Issues that fall under human capital include organizational design, training, performance management, technology, internal communication strategy, culture, morale, pay, recruitment and so forth. You can read details here. The job starts in September, giving me the summer free, and is based in New York, though I will be doing a lot of regular work-related travel.

I'm very excited about the job. I think it's going to be fascinating and that I'll learn a lot. The people I've met from Deloitte have been fantastically smart, interesting and passionate about their work. The compensation package is music to the ears of someone like me who has always struggled to make ends meet. And I can't wait to live in New York. I'm also relieved that this process is behind me so that I can focus on school for the rest of my time at SOM.

I think it might be valuable to retrace the steps that got me to this opportunity because to some this may seem out of nowhere; I started this blog in July 2009, and the word "consultant" doesn't appear until late September 2010. So I realize this news could look random. Plus, the job hunt has been an area about which I haven't always been wholly forthcoming in this blog, because it's sort of sensitive and private. So now that it's official, let me back up a little.

Prior to SOM and throughout my first year of school, I was focused on journalism/media as an industry, given my background. That's not to say I didn't look at other options, though. Around this time last year I was getting steered by friends and the Career Development Office toward marketing, but none of those internships panned out (which was disappointing at the time, but now I'm grateful, because I don't think marketing is a good fit for me). After my flirtations with marketing ended, I applied to AP, which was my "that would be awesome" internship prospect throughout the year; I was thrilled to take it. I loved my summer there, but they do not extend full-time offers to MBAs post-internship. I also was starting to feel somewhat fatigued about the media industry. It's a fascinating field and near to my heart, but it kind of feels like I've been having the same conversation over and over for 10 years now. I'd like to see what else is out there.

The courses I enjoyed most during my first year were in the field of Organizational Behavior (OB). Although I've genuinely liked learning about economics, strategy, finance, operations, marketing and all the rest of that stuff too, OB has been where I've shown the most passion, interest and aptitude. But it wasn't clear to me what career opportunities were available in that area; that's what led me to co-found the Human Capital Club at school with my friend Erika, who prior to SOM worked in HR at GE. There are MBA programs that have a well-regarded human-capital track, like Cornell and Vanderbilt, but generally human capital is a relatively new (and not universally understood or bought-into) emphasis of MBA curricula.

During the summer, a Yale SOM alumna who works in Deloitte's Human Capital practice contacted me to see if she could be of service in any Human Capital Club events. We had a nice chat, and I found her work very interesting, even though I really hadn't considered consulting before. She put me in touch with a couple other consultants, who in turn hooked me up with still more people, and suddenly I was inadvertently networking with people at Deloitte.

Consulting is a popualr job for people with MBAs. For the Class of 2009 at SOM, 19% accepted full-time jobs in consulting. The other most popular sectors were finance (46%), general management (20%) and marketing (13%). I never looked at consulting last year. At all. I'm not sure why. Part of it may have been that it seemed too competitive. My classmates who were pursuing it were frantic and seemed to be tripping over one another for these opportunities -- plugging away at networking events, doing informational phone calls and coffee chats, practicing mock interviews, casing, entering competitions, going on job treks, doing workshops, reviewing each other's resumes and so on. One needs to be awfully hungry for a reward to endure all that, and I was not hungry to be a consultant whatsoever. Consequently, I more or less turned a blind eye and kept my focus on media and journalism, a space where nobody else was competing, and where I thought I had good odds of getting a nice job that would interest me.

Anyway, flash forward to last summer, I've now started to learn more about Deloitte's human-capital work, and it sounded neat and like it could be a good fit, and that it would give me exposure to lots of different companies and industries that I'm not familiar with. I decided to apply, was invited for first-round interviews, was invited for second-round interviews, and was extended an offer. Because I wanted to do this specific kind of consulting at this specific firm, I could be focused in my preparations, which involved minimal practice casing and one Consulting Club workshop, on casing.

In taking this job, I'm not abandoning all hopes of working in the news media. In fact I'm likely to get staffed on what they call TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) projects, in light of my experience in that industry. But regardless of whether or when I find my way back to media, for now I'm just doing what I think is best for my post-MBA career development. I will have more to offer if I deepen my understanding of a function and continue my education through the rigor of consulting, and Deloitte, to boot, recently topped Business Week's list of the best places to launch a career. So I think I'll be in good hands.

I've been warned by former and current consultants that the lifestyle is difficult, but from what I can gather it's probably most difficult for people with families or spouses, and that's not me. There will also be some stressful deadlines and piles of hard work; but I'm used to the former, coming from the newspaper industry, and I'm not afraid of the latter, as evidenced by my return to school. I'm actually genuinely excited by my fears that this will be difficult. I have a very brief and special opportunity to capitalize on being a newly minted MBA, and I feel very fortunate to have snagged this offer. This is no time to settle for something easy and unchallenging; if there was ever a time to see what I'm made of, it's now. I also truly think this is going to be a load of fun. I'm psyched.

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