Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why don't I tell you about a time I overcame a challenge?

It's a very non-school week for yours truly, as I spent Monday and Tuesday in New York at a job interview, and will be doing the same Thursday and Friday. But today is Wednesday, so I'm back in New Haven in the midst of a day rich with academics, extracurriculars and, if the fates allow, laundry.

The position for which I interviewed yesterday is a two-year rotational development program at Bank of America. The opportunity came out of the networking and pre-interviewing I did at Reaching Out, the national LGBT MBA conference I attended a couple weeks ago in Los Angeles. There were about 20 candidates at this final-round stage; and I was told they'd probably extend offers to about 5 of us. It seems like an interesting opportunity, since the bank is always going through interesting changes (both technological and business-related), so there would be much to learn. The job would be in either New York or Charlotte, or potentially both since the rotation consists of two 12-month stints in different departments. I would rather be in New York, although there are worse places than North Carolina; I went to college there. Lovely state.

The interview schedule consisted of a cocktail reception Monday night, where we mingled and made small talk. I think I'm pretty good in those situations. The trick, really, is to drink very slowly, which is actually a little hard to do because the situation is so awkward and stressful. But I'm proud to say I managed to nurse two glasses of wine at a snail's pace over the course of 2 1/2 hours.

Tuesday's itinerary began with a lunch I had no appetite for thanks to a massive room-service breakfast, followed by three 40-minute behavioral interviews in the afternoon. Those conversations were a mix of casual chit-chat and scripted questions like "Tell me about a time you took on a project whose purpose changed during the course of the project, and explain how you reacted to that." (Summary of my answer: I worked at a newspaper for eight years, so that happened every day. Here are some examples: ______.) Everyone was nice; I only got one question that was slightly off-putting, which was "So, John, why should we hire you? Clearly we'd be taking a risk." Yikes! I responded by saying it would not be a risk, and I explained why I would be just as successful at the bank as I have been throughout my life up until today; she seemed to like my answer, but who knows, really? I've learned from interviewing prospective students that an interviewer's facial expressions can be very deceiving. Anyway, the process was a bit nerve-wracking but overall not a super stressful ordeal. I had time to relax and do some social stuff with local friends.

The interviews tomorrow and the next day, with a consulting firm, will follow roughly the same schedule but be a little tougher, with a greater number of higher-intensity activities than Bank of America had scheduled. Then all this will be followed by one of the strangest things I've ever seen on my Outlook calendar: A Saturday that isn't emboldened, which means I don't have a single thing scheduled. Not one! It would be pretty blissful to keep it that way, because after a week of missing almost all my classes it would be nice to read and catch up. (I'm very lucky to have a good friend, Zandra, who has been collecting notes for me.)

One of the things I particularly need to catch up on is my non-SOM class, Theory of Media, because I will have a final paper due in a few weeks, and I need to iron out exactly what I'm going to discuss. I think I'm going to talk about the blossoming locative-media industry (GPS stuff). An unanticipated aspect of taking a class outside the business school is that it's an oddly isolating activity; I'm never around anybody who's discussing it, so I can't gauge my effort to anyone else's. That's a contrast to, say, Corporate Finance, where the assignments are group assignments, and people always end up talking about how they're doing in the class, how hard they think it is, when and for how long they're meeting with their groups to do assignments, etc. That puts some context on my opinion of the class, and that context is lacking for my film studies class. So I just have to be particularly diligent to make sure I don't drop the ball.

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