Searching at HBS

The one thing I heard throughout recruiting is that “searching for dates and searching for jobs is the same thing.”

I famously said this, co-writing a Kwama Sutra article with my section mate Renny McPherson last February, after attempting to gain a summer internship during the on campus recruiting period.

Since then, my “single” bond with Mr. McPherson has ended.  He, like most eligible bachelors on campus, began dating an exceptional HBS student, and subsequently turned down my request to choreograph a dance to “Single ladies” at the Charles Hotel in front of recruiters who failed to give us offers last February (the dance, though, would have been amazing, I wanted to change the words to “if you liked it, then you should have put an offer on it”).

Thus, I found myself alone (again), and felt like chronicling why recruiting is the EXACT SAME THING as dating (again).

Now, I don’t find recapping what I said earlier this year to be fulfilling for anyone, but I highly suggest you go read the older column.  The cliff notes version is that during the initial recruitment process, the firms come and try to sweeten us up.  They drop game, buy us presents, and take us out to dinners.  We get hooked.  Companies say such things as, “We loved your resume package,” and “This feels like a good fit for us.”

However, right when we get hooked, they “neg” us by engaging in a crazy interview process in which most of us do not live up to expectations.  They become slightly stand-offish, start aggressively talking to our friends, and won’t return our phone calls.  Desperate, we students turn up the charm, “You are definitely my first choice,” and “I have been thinking about you ever since coming to HBS – in fact, you are WHY I came to HBS.  We’re meant to be.”

The pain of the rejection hurts most of us.  We wait by the phone, watching each minute pass.  “Why hasn’t they called – I swear I thought we made a connection today,” can be heard throughout the halls of SFP.  And then your phone rings, “Hey Kwame – I hope all is well.  Unfortunately, this just isn’t going to work out between us.  It’s such a competitive year, and I think I found a slightly better match.  You’re amazing, though! “

The fortunate few walk away with an offer.  Love at last!  And yet, for those without numerous offers, the courtship process begins again.

Indeed, this is all true, but I felt like a better way to explain it would be through the eyes of Walt Disney.  You see, if the job search is like dating, and dating is like the “Little Mermaid,” then clearly the job search is like the Little Mermaid.

Yes, the Little Mermaid.  If you think about it for a second, there are way too many parallels.  Like every song from the movie is apropos.   I found myself singing this in the shower:

“Look at this HBS degree.  Isn’t it neat.  Wouldn’t you think my pedigree is complete?

Wouldn’t you think I’m the guy – the guy who has everything?

I’ve got Crimson cash and jcrew sweaters a-plenty

I’ve got boat shoes and Ed School groupies galore

You want parties on Wednesday?

I’ve got 20.  But who cares?  No big deal.  I want more.

I want to be where the consultants are.

I wanna see, wanna see them strategizing.  Flying around with those – what do you call ‘em?

Oh – Starwood Points!

Without professional service experience you don’t get too far.

Consultants are required for promotions, and dancing.  Making lots of – what’s the word called again?  Money.”

If you’re still not convinced that the job hunt is like the Little Mermaid, let me take my comparative analysis a step deeper.  Remember the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” in the movie.  After deciding I wanted to go into professional services, I met up with our CPD department to figure out how to get a job.

JANA: The only way to get what job you want is to participate in hell week yourself.

KWAMA: Can you help me with that?

JANA: My dear, sweet EC. That’s what I do. It’s what the CPD lives for.  To help unfortunate, unemployed students like yourself.  Poor souls with no one else to turn to.

JANA (begins to sing): I admit that in the past the market’s been a nasty.  They weren’t kidding when they called it, well, a recession.
But you’ll find that nowadays.  HBS has mended all its ways.  Redesigned, seen the light, and made a switch — to this [Shows image of new job bank website]

And I fortunately can teach you how to network.  It’s a talent that I always have possessed.
And dear Kwama, please don’t laugh. I use it on behalf of the miserable, the lonely, and depressed (pathetic)…

Poor HBS souls.  In pain, in need.

This one longing to be a banker.

That one wants to be a CEO

And do I help them?

Yes, indeed
Those poor HBS souls

So sad, so true

They come flocking to my Widner Hall

Crying, “Jobs, Jana, please!”
And I help them!
Yes, I do.”

With the career department’s help, you go through hell week, and hopefully come out with a job.   And then there’s that moment, in which you kiss the girl accept the offer.

“Sha la la la la la

Don’t be scared

You’ve got your signature prepared

Go on and accept the offer

Sha la la la la la

Don’t stop now

Don’t try to hide it how

You want to accept the offer

Sha la la la la la”

It’s possible this column makes no sense.  It’s possible recruiting has driven me nuts.  Or maybe… I’m on to something.