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Dance, Jesters, Dance!!

So it is over. For three weeks, all of the different companies converged on the HBS campus and surrounding areas to “recruit” HBS students and answer questions. In my first year at HBS (I am an EC), I looked at these visits as just that . . . presentations. I thought these people were coming to teach HBS students about their wonderful companies and persuade people to apply. Since there was no case and no class participation points, I decided to skip most of them. Of course, when it came time to get the results for on-campus interviews, my Return On Invested Time ratio was 0 (even though the invested time was low anyway). At first, I was stunned, but it made sense after a while. During the time I was doing my LEAD development exercise for the eighth time, people were getting jobs. How? When I looked at how packed the Charles Hotel would be by people who already knew everything under the sun about Mega Investment Bank A, I knew something was amiss. Most people would call the process schmoozing, but I think it’s different than that. After asking around about the “process,” I found that you need to do a lot more than show up and be polite. You have to find the right people and be inquisitive and show your “pearly whites.” Asking questions is a requirement, and you need to show sincere interest. Now, this is fine since you may want to work for Super-Duper-Incredible Consulting company, but the problem is that everybody is doing the same thing. Now, you have to run around the hotel and get your “air-time” with someone that is going to see 1000 people that night and is going to 1000 schools. The trick, then, is to make yourself memorable so your resume will receive special attention. That’s when the fun starts as people begin trying to get smart and ask “good questions.” Common sense would say “research the answer”, stay home and watch “Survivors,” and you’re done, but not us. We do and say all sorts of stuff, and you know the recruiters have to be laughing to themselves . . . “Dance, little court jesters. Dance for the Super Recruiter!”

This year, I have changed my program. I have gone to the presentations in Aldrich and at the hotels, and it’s been a challenge. The worse part is talking to a recruiter and straining to say something intelligent while the servers are walking by and offering you free food. The temptation get something at no cost (we are students, after all) was very tiring for me to keep in check. During the last three weeks, a good night for me would be to go to a presentation for the RC class and make a complete pig of myself!

One thing I noticed this year is that some of the clich‚s that had me confused last year have double meaning. So just in case you were also confused, here are…

Here are some translations:
o “We are pleased that you have sent a resume.” Translates to: If you danced, smiled and groveled enough, maybe we will not put your electronic submission into the “Deleted” folder.

“Were you finished talking to the recruiter? I didn’t mean to butt-in!” Translates to: You are in the way of me getting my dance on for the recruiter lady. Get your @#$* out of the way because I need to pay CitiAssist back for all the sushi dinners and last year’s spring trip to South Africa.

“Would you like my HBS (business) card?” Translates to: I am giving you this in the hopes that you can put a name to the face of the person that literally kissed your feet by asking you all those questions about your “interesting career.”

o”That is the end of the presentation. Are there any questions?” Translates to: I know that you all are going to ask a bunch of previously-prepared cookie-cutter questions, but could you please hurry and ask/beg so I can go to our company-paid open bar and get sloshed?

o”I am not able to answer that question for sure, so please contact Mr. X at xyc@abc and I’ll give him the heads-up.” Translates to: It’s so funny to watch you all beg and plead and make yourselves look like idiots that I have to share the fun with the company janitor!

(At the end of any randomly chosen presentation last month) “I am so sorry that

oI am late.” Translates to: Your company was less important than SuperBank X that was in Aldrich 115, but no way in hell am I going to say that since you are my backup plan, so answer these desperately prepared questions which I hope don’t overlap with what you just took 45 minutes of my fellow classmate’s precious time to discuss.

o”We are excited about our first-year recruiting at HBS!” Translates to: We are taking one b-school person, but we will not say that directly. We are actually here to see the show and laugh at you all dress in a shirt and tie to sit in your very own classroom and watch a presentation for a person that is not even giving you stock options.

o”We are excited about returning to HBS after some time away!” Translates to: It’s our turn to watch HBS students squirm for all those years we recruited here, gave offers and got dissed by your former “dot-com” schoolmates who cancelled at the last minute or did not even bother to show up for the job at all.

o”Are you taking interns [from an RC student] or full-time employees [from an EC]?” Translates to: Did I just waste 45 minutes of my time listening about an executive position at Landfills ‘R Us in Hodunk, USA? (If there is a negative response to this question, it is always best to clear the way from the doors as a mass of students of one class leaves to peep into another presentation).

October 20, 2003
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