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Inside Hell Week

If hell week doesn’t get you, the Boston winter will.

There’s a reason “hell week” is so named, but unfortunately, the hell of the job search isn’t confined to one week in February. A glimpse into the life of a first-year student searching for an internship reveals the grueling process of landing a summer job.

November 12, 9:00 PM: My cheeks hurt from talking and smiling at the five networking events I’ve been to this week..and it’s only Wednesday. I’m balancing a glass of wine and some kind of fried egg roll thing in one hand while trying to come up with a brilliant question for the Bank X representative who is being swarmed by seven RCs like me. I have to wait until I have an opportunity to ask for his business card or the whole past twenty minutes will have been a waste. It would be great if I got to start my cases before 11:00 PM tonight.

November 13, 7:20 PM: Tonight I’m learning all about Consulting Firm Y (read: showing up at Firm Y’s event to make sure they know I’m genuinely interested). My career coach said it’s next to impossible to do recruiting for consulting and banking at the same time, but I’m pretty sure I can prove her wrong. Only 20 more networking events to go in the next 10 days.

December 19, 9:15 AM: There is a bitter wind assaulting my face and huge snowflakes are swirling around my ankles. No, I’m not hitting the ski slopes. I’m running around Wall Street with 50 other HBS-ers, all trying to convince investment bankers to give us jobs this summer. These shoes were not made for this weather!

January 16, 12:00 PM: I have twelve interview invitations! Yay! I guess all that networking last semester paid off. Wait a minute – twelve interviews in one week!? How the hell am I going to pull that off?

January 25, 1:00 PM: I’m meeting up with a friend to practice for consulting case interviews. I managed to network for consulting and banking at the same time, but interviewing could be a different story. After giving me an M&A case, my friend’s feedback was “Umm.interesting approach, but you kind of sounded like a banker.”

January 26, 8:40 PM: I’ve read three chapters of an NYU-Stern professor’s Finance PowerPoint presentation in the past couple hours. It’s amazing how much Finance you can learn in a short amount of time when you’re not doing the case method.

January 27, 4:30 PM: More interview prep. I think my sectionmate described it best: studying for I-banking interviews is like studying for a final exam, except you don’t know what the course topic is. It could be about finance, accounting, economics, breaking news.take your pick.

January 29, 5:00 PM: I’ve just learned that I blink too much, but only when I’m thinking too hard. That’s what one of my friends told me while we practiced “fit” interview questions. I guess I’ll have to keep that in mind along with all the random finance facts and case interview tricks crammed into my head. Control the blinking! But don’t forget to smile and be energetic!

February 1, 9:30 PM: I practice my “tell me about yourself” speech one more time. I don’t want to sound too rehearsed for my interviews, but I need to make sure I get all my key points in. There’s just so much to remember!

February 2, 9:00 AM: Ow! Crap! I just completely wiped out on the ice on the way to my first interview. Thank god I didn’t tear my stockings, although it feels like I’m going to have a bruise. I think my hair still looks okay, but I’ll double check in the bathroom mirror. Of all the times to slip and fall.you’ve got to be kidding me.

February 2, 3:30 PM: Having three interviews in one day (two of which were two back-to-back interviews) was exhausting, and this is only day one! A couple hours of relaxation, and then it’s off to a cocktail reception followed by a dinner. At least by now I’ve mastered the ten minute conversation followed by a graceful exit with business card in hand.

February 2, 9:00 PM: Finally home for good. It seems like I’ve been checking my Blackberry every five minutes all night, probably because I have two voicemails, which are hopefully good news. Okay, not bad – one rejection (no surprise there) and one second round interview. Now I have to figure out how to schedule that into this insane week.

February 3: Iron a new shirt. Rewind, repeat.

February 4: Debate wearing the banker blue or consulting blue shirt today. Rewind, repeat (again).

February 5: You guessed it. More dings and some second-round invitations.

February 6, 11:59 AM: Companies are allowed to extend offers after 12:00 PM, so it’s time to turn my phone off. I have a second-round interview this afternoon, and I don’t want to know if I get any calls from potential employers in the meantime.

February 6, 1:00 PM: I’m finally in my last interview of the week. I think I’m cracking this case, but I’m also wondering if I have any important voicemails waiting for me. Okay, try to stay focused on the case.

February 6, 3:30 PM: Power on my phone. Voicemail from a recruiter! Let’s see, does she sound upbeat? Or like she’s going to deliver bad news? It’s very hard to tell from her professionally neutral tone. Okay, time to call her back.Damn. Voicemail. I’ll have to call her back in a few minutes. In the meantime, I replay her voicemail message and analyze it with my roommate. After three playbacks, my roommate expresses cautious optimism. Time to dial again.

February 6, 3:34 PM: Yay! I have a job! Thank you thank you thank you thank you! I can finally breathe while I wait to see what happens with a few other firms. This was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life, but now I feel like it was all worth it.

February 6, 10:50 PM: I’m debating letting myself be dragged out to a bar. I do have something to celebrate, but I’m so tired.

February 6, 10:55 PM: Crawl into bed, exhausted. I managed to survive the week with no major scars, except for the giant bruise on my knee from my fall on the ice. I guess if hell week doesn’t get you, the Boston winter will.

February 23, 2009
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