Friday, February 17, 2012

Mountaintop or Valley?

During the winter, heavy fog often rolls into Charlottesville and the surrounding areas.  In some ways, it symbolizes what our futures looks like as MBA First Years—cloudy and uncertain.

Over the past two months, most of us have thrown ourselves headfirst into internship recruiting.  It is a hectic, time-consuming and extremely difficult process.  Consultants practice dozens of case interview questions.  Marketers mow through mock behavioral interviews.  And bankers are blitzed all at one time during a week where candidates can have interviews with as many as five companies in a single day!

Our noses are stuck in books and online research.  We build spreadsheets listing our strengths and weaknesses, teamwork and leadership stories, favorite and least favorite marketing campaigns.  Some days, the only person you see is yourself—in the mirror as you practice your two minute pitch.

This, my friends, is being in the fog.  Will the hard work pay off?  Will a company see and value your abilities?  Will you convince them you are a fit for their culture?  Where are you?  Headed towards the top of the mountain or still wandering through the valley?

When you’re in the thick of things, it’s  almost impossible to tell.

Even more challenging, you don’t have long to break through— interviews last between 30 minutes and an hour.  And, almost immediately after you shake the interviewer’s hand, the fog thickens.  It takes days, sometimes weeks to know if you’ve moved on to final rounds, where the process repeats itself again.

And then… it’s over.  The fog clears, and you’re on top of the world, offer in hand, looking down on the horizon that is the rest of your first year at Darden.  That’s scenario #1.

Scenario #2 isn’t so rosy.  Sometimes it’s a “thanks for your interest in us, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction” phone call.  Other times it’s a stock mass rejection e-mail.  Worse still, some other recruiters are never heard from again.

These moments shake your confidence to the core.  They crush your self-esteem.

All you can do is get back up and jump back in.  Admit your faults and correct them.  Fine tune your stories.  Get help from the Career Development Center or a Second Year.

We are told constantly that all works out, but that can be hard to see when things are so hazy.

This is an interesting time for First Years at Darden: are we at the mountaintop or in the depths of the valley?

That depends on the day, who you’re asking… and what the weather’s like.


  1. From where should we generate our self esteem?
    I take my cues from the folks who I can see even when it's really foggy, because usually those folks are standing right next to me.