My colleague in business school, Iday aptly summed up the challenges many of us are facing when trying to find a job. It is indeed one of the toughest seasons to be out there in the job market. The sad part about the whole mess is that although everyone around me will end up with a job, many of them wont have the job they really wanted when bschool began. My experience interviewing with multiple firms (across multiple industries/functions) shows that more than anything else, it is a numbers game this time. More than one of us are fit for the job only one can get, and companies are giving random absurd reasons to reject people (which is understandable yet depressing).
Coming into this market, I realised that the best bet would be to look for jobs beyond my dream job (which if I havent mentioned before on this blog, is strategy consulting). I had many years of tech experience, and therefore applying to tech companies was obvious. Since I had done lot of leadership/project management work, I looked closely at many leadership, rotational programs. And then obviously there was consulting.
The thing about tech is that many of the exciting companies arent big enough (or willing enough) to sponsor visas for international students. I think it also hurts us a little bit because of the stereotype that exists in the market about GSB (that we are just a finance school). Having said that though, there is an increasing interest in tech, the HiTech group is doing some great work, and more and more companies are realising that not considering GSB talent is a big mistake. That's great news for incoming classes, but I dont know if any school can do anything about the visa problem.
Rotational programs (or leadership programs) are generally great places to be. Depending on how it is structured within the organization, and who's the sponsor of the program (this tells me the buy-in the program has within different business units of the organization), it can be a great place to restart your career. I found out that GSB was very popular for some great leadership or internal consulting programs, and I applied to most of them. I got some interviews with a few very great firms, and I felt diversified enough to be safe.
The final piece of my recruiting jigsaw was the consulting firms. I applied to almost all consulting firms, and had a fair bit of success getting first round interviews (my internship brand definitely helped I think). I did reasonably well to convert a few good ones into second rounds. The great thing about second round interviews is that they are mostly with Partners (or Principals at the very least). This is great because for most firms, partners are the relaxed people (as against consultants/managers), and if you can relax, you should do well (definitely preparation matters). I realised that I did a better job relaxing this time than I did last time when recruiting for internship (which was a horrible experience - but great learning in retrospect). I guess I just figured that I had nothing to loose (which wasnt quite true) and therefore walked in with a smile and a head held high. Another interesting part about Partner cases are not atypical, so you cant just apply frameworks (this is true for many firms, not all firms). For some reason, that worked well for me, because I was never good with knowing everything about every element of business question, or the perfect framework. So much so, that by now, I have started enjoying interviews, specifically the case interviews. I will hopefully be able to write some detailed posts on how I approached consulting interviews.
As the situation stands now, I have 3 second rounds pending (incidentally one each with the three different industries/functions I mentioned about). Thankfully though, I have an offer as well to consider, which is honestly a sweet spot to be in. The coming weeks will help me understand and gauge where I might end up after bschool, and I am hoping that I will be able to write about it here.
It's 4:45 am here in Chicago, I guess I should probably sleep.