Spring Thaw

I’ve been busy being depressed, watching Netflix, and procrastinating everything in my life. It reminds me a lot of when I was graduating from Macalester, and I’m mad at myself for falling into the same habits. I haven’t written, partially because of all of this, and also because I’m not always sure if I want to continue having a public blog. I started this blog, and have maintained it, because I think other people go through the same things I do, and it could be helpful for them. Yet, I wonder if it will ever hurt my chances at finding a job. Or worse, hurt someone I care about. It is a delicate balance that I am always very mindful of, but sometimes I make the wrong decisions. A friend of mine recently shared her own story though, and it reminded me of the reasons I will continue to share my own.

One example of fear related to a job… I recently went to Utah for an interview. The highlights were endless: the company is a small, fun technology firm; I would be a manager to 10+ high potential recent grads; they allow puppies in the office; culturally, I loved everyone I met. On the other hand though, it is in Utah, which is far from the NYC in which I envision myself living. Both geographically and culturally. I was really concerned about how me having a public life could influence my ability to lead a strong team. Would they have doubts in my leadership abilities because I have publicly stated I’ve dealt with depression? Would I be less effective with my subordinates knowing details of my personal life? I’ve never pretended to be religious, but I would also be nervous that my openness could be frightening to some of the more religious and conservative people that are in the majority in this small town in Utah.

In the 6 weeks since this interview, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself. First off, I’m just a candidly open person, both online and in person. I don’t say anything on the internet that I wouldn’t say in real life, and whenever I do have the opportunity to manage a team, I will carry this strength with me. I believe it makes me both relatable and inspiring, and is something I would value in a manger of my own.

Next, Utah isn’t for me. It is beautiful, absolutely, and I would love to vacation there sometime. Yet, I need to live in a big city. I love being able to walk everywhere and not have to worry about a car. I love being able to run down stairs and across the street to get my Starbucks coffee. I need to have a neighborhood bar when Joe and I can go after work for a drink or two, and not have to worry about driving home. I also feel that there is just more going on in NYC. My Macalester community, Girls in Tech, book clubs, etc., will all be available in New York. Sure, they could be in Utah too, but there would be fewer options and a longer commute to any of them.

Learning these things about me, that I want to be in NYC and that I’m really excited about managing a team (and believe I’ll be really great at it), took a while. I had been applying to a ton of data analytics positions, both because that’s what I know and because it is what I’m good at. Yet, it isn’t what completely excites me. So, today I still don’t have a job, but I know a lot more about what I’m looking for and can be more fierce in tracking that down. For now, I’m pushing down the fears that I’m a fraud and can’t actually positively contribute to a company. I’m happy it is finally spring.

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Hoops

The process of finding a job is very strange. I’m not sure if any company is “straight-forward” in this anymore. One job I recently applied for required two 1,000 word essays, along with a resume and generic application. Thankfully I like to write, and I’m also hopeful that the essays weeded out a few people who weren’t really interested in the position. One friend of mine actually confessed she didn’t apply when she saw that requirement.

Turns out, I made it to the next phase in that application process. Instead of it being a live interview though, whether via Skype or in person, it was a recorded video interview. Specifically, the HR representatives pre-recorded the interview questions and then I had 2 minutes to respond for each. At first, I was excited about the process. I was able to do it on my terms, where and when I wanted, with only a deadline to guide me. I spoke to people who have gone through similar interviews and got some insights, which was really helpful.

But then there is the strategy of the interview, which is where my nerves kicked in. In 6 total minutes (3 questions with 2 minutes each), what is more important: conveying the best answers or showing one’s true self and personality? Obviously it is a combination of the two and probably some other components, but I felt like a lot of my experiences were shared with the essays. I tried to view the video interview as an opportunity to show that I can present myself well and be an engaging speaker. I’ll let you know soon if that was the correct approach.

Yay recruiting

Before I get into it, please let me acknowledge what a great privilege it is to be graduating with my MBA from one of the top 5 institutions in the world. In the grand scheme of things, I’m highly employable and don’t need to worry about employment in the long term. I’m extremely fortunate to be where I am.

That being said, business school has been hard work and the perfect job has not been just handed to me at the end of it. Recruiting is a trying process that is emotionally stressful and very deflating. I often leave a rejection feeling “unemployable…” but I do have a tendency to be dramatic.

During the last week in October I had 7 interviews and received rejections from all. The level of competition for these roles is crazy. The first rejection came for a rotational program that I was extremely excited about and thought I was perfect for. I didn’t have quite as many years of experience as they were looking for, but I felt I had a compelling story for why that was okay. I got the rejection letter without the opportunity to interview.

One job that I did interview for was one I was a little less excited about, but sometimes the best opportunities come out of those circumstances. I made it through four interviews before getting the rejection. This situation was more frustrating because even after all those interviews, they were unable to provide specific feedback. I thought the interviews went very well so it is hard to determine what I can do better next time.

I made it to a third interview for probably what I would describe as my favorite job. At some point in the process there must have been a communication error though because halfway through the interview, my interviewer realized I wasn’t graduating until the spring and they needed someone to fill the role immediately. This was frustrating because it was just a timing issue; I’m hopeful a similar role will become available closer to graduation though.

A lot of my current frustration is my own fault too. Many of my peers have offers already in the bag. The entertainment industry is just different though. Hires are made just in time and its probably crazy for me to think I’m close to closing the deal. So, it’s probably just time for me to take a deep breath, enjoy the holidays, and resume the effort in the new year. Easier said than done, but I’m going to try.

Things turned around!

It’s really too bad that I am so often rewarded for my ranting; it only encourages me. The day after my post about my internship frustrations, I received two internship offers for the summer. More specifically, I received an offer from a TV Network in NYC and they wanted a response within 1 business day so I applied pressure on the other company I had been speaking with to also make a decision. The pressure worked and they came to me with an offer the same day.

I went into the weekend with so much worry about the decision ahead of me. Both options were fantastic. In NYC I would be working on distribution analytics, something I’m incredibly interested in and passionate about. In LA, my job would be to manage a brand/franchise for the summer, something I have less experience in, but knew would be a great learning opportunity.

In truth, I knew my decision right away. My gut told me the LA position was the one I should take. Yet, I spent hours try to convince myself my gut was wrong, and then why it was right. I also had a lot of concern about turning a company down. I was so extremely interested in both roles though, and unfortunately I cannot be on both coasts at once. After two nights of very little sleep, I made the phone calls early Monday morning. There was that awkward time where I had declined with the East Coast but couldn’t yet reach the West Coast and was sorta concerned it would all turn to flames so I just went to workout.

But it is official! I passed the background check, reserved an airbnb room near the campus and bought my plane ticket. Wowza.

Oh the MBA Internship

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I’ve been thinking for the last three weeks about how to actually articulate my experience looking for an internship. Coming back from China I was freaking out a bit as most of my peers had already secured their summer jobs. I, however, had (and have) not. Even though I made it to a third round interview with one company, they stopped answering my emails and I was never formally rejected. I understood coming into recruiting season that this would be the case, though. Entertainment is famous for their just-in-time hiring, unlike consulting where companies know the exact number they need a year ahead of time. I knew what I was getting myself into and still I let the pressure get to me.

I thought that by going to a top business school this would be an easier process. For example, I applied to a Social Media MBA position with an tech/entertainment company. I was rejected within 2 hours of submitting my application. In my cover letter, I explicitly stated both my involvement with managing social media accounts for various organizations (Girls in Tech, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Sloan Women in Management, etc.) and the Social Media Management class I’m taking. This, plus everything else on my resume, wasn’t enough to even get an interview.

The black box-ness is especially frustrating. I’ve submitted 40+ online internship applications, some with minor connections. I had one first round interview that I felt went pretty well, but I was rejected soon after. I requested feedback to, you know, improve my chances on the next position but, no dice.

Further complicating things is needing to decide between LA and NYC. I clearly fell in love with LA when I was there in January and have had that as my plan ever since. After spending time in China and having Joe go back to Minnesota for a week (stupid baseball), I remembered that I really like spending time with him and I’m just happier when I am around him. So, why move myself across the country from him for 3 months? Well, probably because this is maybe the last time I’ll get an opportunity to just uproot everything and try out my hand at an entertainment gig in LA without any worries. And really, even if I do get a little depressed being all alone in California, hopefully the sun will lighten the mood.

Right now I’m in the final stages with two different roles, one in NYC and one in LA. I haven’t received an offer from either yet so I don’t want to jinx it, but it would be a difficult decision to make if I were offered both. It is just such a roller-coaster of emotions – I get my hopes up and then they die and then I have to get excited about the next thing. I know it will all work out in the end but it is hard not knowing! I like to know things!

Back on track

I’m out of my funk from last week. Other people on the internets (so it must be true) have called similar reactions to application season PTSD… maybe that’s what it was. Either way, with two schools inviting me to interview last week, I’m feeling better. It shows me that I’m at least a competitive candidate and gives me an opportunity to woo them. I’m a good wooer.

This upcoming week I have a Skype interview with Georgetown. I would have preferred to do it in person, but they only have one day available for on-site interviews and it was a Saturday. Spending time in class and seeing the campus during the week is important, so if I can’t do that, I might as well just Skype it. Plus, I’ll go über-broke flying everywhere if all 8 schools come calling…

After the first interview request, I did something terrible and discovered Beat The GMAT, which is a website where people post if they’ve been invited to interview yet. It kind of allows me to go crazy as if I didn’t have that ability already. I learned though, that MIT was beginning to send out their interview requests the following day (Friday). I hate knowing stuff like this because then I can get my hopes up and down and all around within the normal response period. In reality though, I shouldn’t be worried until I don’t hear back at all.

Anyway, I got an email Friday morning from MIT and nearly had a heart-attack. Except it was just a newsletter mentioning things going on around campus and was in no way an invite to interview. Then they emailed me later in the morning and I was like “god dammit MIT quit emailing me heart-attacks” except this time it actually was an invite to interview so the excitement was warranted.

I signed up for a good time and will be able to do a class visit and information session. It will be an awesome little trip. I also reached out to all the current MIT MBA students who are also Macalester grads – I’ll be meeting up with them when I am out there to gain insight into their experiences.

Now it’s time to practice like crazy for my interviews and remember that I don’t suck. I also need to stop analyzing the admissions process because now I think every school sends invitations out alphabetically so when Stanford starts on Monday I’ll get my invite then too… but I could totally be jumping to conclusions and getting me hopes up for naught.

Alcohol and Interviews may not mix well

I don’t know when I will learn that I should not be going to interviews with alcohol in my system. Although it has never turned out poorly, I’m über nervous and hyper-sensitive about it. Take my former job as an example. I had a phone interview, for which I was a little nervous. I figured, that because I’m a better date while having a drink I would also be a better interviewer. Afterwards, I could safely say that was untrue. Not only does sarcasm not bode well over the phone, it probably has no place in a job interview.

A more recent example (and the reason I’m writing this post) is an interview I had for a fellowship I was a candidate for. The interview was at 7pm, and I had a team happy hour at 4:30. More than enough time to go an have a drink or two, especially when we also got appetizers, right? Wrong. Whether or not my actual performance was impacted I’m not sure… I’m going to guess not because I feel like it went well and I conveyed my strengths flawlessly. However… I knew about it. I knew I had had a drink and therefore was maybe not top notch. I also was worried that they could smell it on my breath and would be turned off by that.

I’ll ultimately wasn’t chosen for the fellowship, and even though their excuse was that I was overqualified, hopefully I can learn from this experience.