While many of you are still despairing over those painful interviews and lost job opportunities from Hell Week, trying to figure out how a decimal calculation or air conditioner supply chain kept you from a career path, I hope you will take a moment to support those in more desperate need. I am of course talking about the victims of Multiple Offer Syndrome, commonly known as “MOS”. Every day for the next four weeks, these sad, unfortunate individuals will face the burden of choosing a destiny among several – usually seven or more – offers from various firms. Overwhelmed by countless questions of “fit”, the ideal three-month health plan or the company’s policy on interoffice relationships, these courageous individuals are plagued by high-anxiety, severe bloating of the head, spontaneous smiling spasms and arm cramps (a side-effect of excessive back-patting).
As ND’s Harbus representative, I felt a responsibility to explore the issue further and raise awareness for this affliction. With MOS affecting over 5% of the HBS student body, it is essential that we remind sufferers that they are not alone. I had a chance to sit down with one of these special individuals, who, on the condition of anonymity, offered to share his daily struggles. His name is Steve A. (name has been disguised) and he has MOS. I thought, having worked at a non-profit and dealt with people in crisis situations, I would be prepared for these stories. I was wrong. Even for me this was an emotional challenge. But although the interview might bring tears to some, I implore you to press on; I assure you it will also prove inspiring.
NG: Steve, thank you so much for joining me today. I know this must be tough for you.
Steve: This really is difficult Nikhil, but people need to understand the effects of MOS. I just hope my words can provide hope for at least one person that might be suffering right now.
NG: Admirable, Steve. I am sure it will. Let me start by asking you to reflect on your job search experiences. How long did you prepare for these interviews and how many did you land?
Steve: Well, I started preparing in October
NG: Wow, five months is a long time to prepare.
Steve: Actually, Nikhil, I meant 2003. I started networking after my first round acceptance letter to HBS and let me tell you it’s been a long road. I ended up with offers from McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Booz, the Newark branch of MRG Partners and several other firms. But that’s a little misleading: four are for strategic consulting in organizational management while three are for management consulting in human capital.
NG: Sounds great, but those options don’t sound very different?
Steve: That’s funny – I thought so too. But that’s not important. What’s really been bothering me, though, is my rejection from Deloitte. It was frustrating because I know I cracked that hot dog factory case. They probably nailed me on fit. If I had only studied the culture more I would have remembered to bring up how “caring and different the people were here” or “how committed they were to the community”. They are supposed to get back to me with feedback, though.
NG: Now that must be difficult. But what about this “MRG Partners” – I’ve never heard of that company.
Steve: The funny thing is that until February 1st, I didn’t either. I used it as one of my practice interviews and just schamboozled my way to the final rounds. They offered me an assistant to the CEO position, so I am definitely considering it.
NG: Sounds like a great opportunity. But you know, Steve, over half our class doesn’t have offers yet.
Steve: And that’s why I feel so lonely. But what makes it worse is that some people just don’t seem to understand how easy they have it. They are acting as if they didn’t have offers from their old firms. But seriously, if you’ve received only one job offer, or are planning to mow lawns this summer, you can completely avoid the frustration I am facing right now.
NG: Please Steve, expand.
Steve: Well, on one hand, it’s so hard to say goodbye. I’ve built some deep, meaningful – almost spiritual – relationships over the past seven days and it’s so tough to turn them down. I keep thinking that I should probably do it in person, maybe at nice restaurant where I can bring some flowers. They’ve been such warm and friendly people, they deserve that much.
There is also the cultural issue: do I really fit the mold of a McKinsey-ite or a BCG’er, especially when they both have such different approaches to solving brain teasers? More importantly, it’s also hard to gauge just how much each of these firms likes me. Did you know that at BCG only three senior managers called to congratulate me? How ridiculous is that? Both McKinsey and Bain had four people call me and specifically ask if I had any additional questions. It was a nice touch.
But to top it off, you need to really search for the right benefits package for the next ten to twelve weeks. This has been mind boggling! Did you know that only two firms offer coverage for emphysema? It is just absurd that some firms do not include that in their offers.
NG: Steve, you don’t smoke.
Steve: That’s not the point. And furthermore, just when I finished writing all my thank you cards using personal stationary, Career Services calls; they want me to go with them on tour and have booked me all this month for interviews and photo shoots. Our “Career Services and You” calendar comes out next week so keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, Tim wants my story for their website as their latest “Portrait Project”- it never ends…
NG: Take a deep breath, relax and remember Steve, you are safe here. I know this might be tough, but can you tell us your symptoms?
Steve: I guess this is the tough part. For one, I get some pretty severe headaches – I think my head is getting larger. Sometimes I feel lethargic and just don’t feel like leaving Kresge. Other times, I can’t eat or sleep until I solve a question about manhole covers. And then, there are these arm cramps. It’s the highs and lows that bother me.
NG: Is there a cure?
Steve: There are several procedures that are out there, some invasive. My sectionmates have suggested sexual relations, but I am still uncomfortable with that procedure. Doctors have also suggested I avoid both internet chat rooms and making jokes on course bulletin boards.
NG: Steve, thank you so much for your time. You are an inspiration to all of us and I truly hope a cure can be found. To my faithful audience, it is often easy to forget those in need, especially when you are dwelling on your own trials. It is now time to be a leader, recalibrate your focus, decide to give your local ShopRite a “chance” this summer and never forget the enormous strain some of your fellow students are facing. I hope you will check in today with the person sitting next to you – chances are they suffer from Multiple Offer Syndrome.