In the last few months, the halcyon days of pre-recruiting seemed as far away as the possibility that Chicago would ever be warm again. I woke up in the mornings and didn't recognize my own face. Psychologically, too many days of becoming the person I thought the firms were recruiting for, of telling carefully-crafted stories about that person had taken their toll. Physically, too many nights of eating my feelings had, well...
But just as January eased into February, and as February will no doubt ease into Spring Break, I'm starting to get my life back. That stranger in the mirror is a very nice person and a whiz at "generating actionable decisions from considerable external uncertainty" but I'm looking forward to feeling like myself again. Here's how:
Take interview prep materials, light on fire
How many times during recruiting have you wanted to pull a Braveheart and just howl at the sky in futile rage? No matter how put-together we may try to seem on the outside, how many other options we have, we've all failed at some point in the process. That failure, amplified by how we compare our internal turmoil with the external put-togetherness of others, needs catharsis.
(In the interest of not being sued, I advocate safe fire-setting purposes, such as digging a hole, having a garden hose ready, and asking a friend to wait around the corner with a getaway vehicle.)
Go to the gym, buy real food at Mariano's
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That working out during recruiting is running for the Metra with two garment bags and that giant binder with all your interview prep;
That every month you try not to think about how efficient LA Fitness is at making free money off of you, especially after you take micro;
At one point, you've wondered if you could die of scurvy in this day and age eating nothing but takeout and Subway sandwiches
Call your mom. Call your dad. No, I'm serious, call them
So I have a story. It's not even a funny story, but it's relevant to the situation. Back in late 2008, I'm recruiting for a job in financial services and Lehman is going down like the Titanic. I get an interview, the company is perfect, I can smell success in the air.
And I bomb it. Bomb. It.
Napalm, no survivors. Tears everywhere.
Back then, if I didn't call home every three days my folks would put an APB on me. I was too ashamed to call home and let them know that I'd blown my chance. It was two weeks later that I called my frantic mother and let her know that I was okay, just a failure of a person. She was quiet for a long time.
Then she said, "you're being ridiculous."
"You're twenty-one, you have the best education your father and I could afford for you, you're smart and hardworking and not a total failure at human interaction. You'll be fine. There'll be more opportunities if you go out and look for them. And you won't end up living in the garage; your dad needs it for his golf equipment and the canoe."
Like I said, it's not a funny story. It's not even an uncommon one. But why it stuck with me is because it required me to think about gratitude, and about circumstance. Much of what we deem our own success is the product of others. Friends we made who gave us the best advice they could, lovers who understood why things were important to us and supported us. Our parents, who tried to raise us right and give us opportunity. Gratitude is to know that we've had help along the way, that we are not alone in our successes, and we are not alone in our failures.
So call your mom. Chances are she'll send you a care package if you play it right.
Go to class for the first time in ___ weeks
I'm not sure if companies will rescind your offer if you fail out of Booth. Likewise, I'm not sure if anyone's failed out from Booth. Yet. But if the hyperbole related to Investments and Operations is true to fact, the Class of 2015 is in serious trouble.
Recruiting's over for most of us; how hard can catching up on eight weeks of material that you've ignored be? See you during finals!