Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Into the world of finance

My marathon coach once said, "You can never be fully prepared for the marathon. You never know what will happen on that day. All you can do is believe in yourself and not give up too soon." Looking back at the on-campus internship interview period I feel the same way.

CBS did a great service to the students by starting the interview season about two weeks before classes begin. This way, we didn't have to worry about readings, team meetings and homework at least till we got a taste of the interviews. Some of my friends and I celebrated the end of first semester by going to Atlantic city for a few days. We were recruiting for finance/consulting positions so essentially we wrapped up the vacation festivities late December and started our prep in full swing. As I was recruiting for a finance position, I focused on brushing up accounting and corporate finance while the consulting folks where busy doing case prep. Being a career switcher I wanted to make sure I nail any technical questions thrown at me. The resources I used (Vault guide to finance interviews, CBS interview guides prepared by the clubs, Training the Street etc) where really useful in  improving my knowledge and confidence. Interview prep was not just focused on these technical stuff but we also focused on the behavioral/fit part. This is somewhat similar to what you'd expect during an MBA admissions interview (Tell me about a time when you ....) and sometimes involved describing the decision making process for a hypothetical situation (relevant to the role we are pursuing). As such, we needed to be on top of our game from the get go.

One of the most important part of our preparation included polishing the "pitch". This is basically a 1-2 minute long monologue where you cover your background, why you want to work in this function/industry/company and why you are a great fit for this role. I'd say this was the most difficult one to nail. In the last few days prior to the beginning of the interview, I might have "pitched" more times than I could count and this was pretty common across the board.  Second year students helped calm our nerves by conducting mock interviews and giving pep talks. Soon, the day arrived and we were as ready as we ever could be. The suits were new, the shoes were shiny, and the eyes were dreamy.

To cut a long story short, I experienced both sides of the coin just like so many of my friends. Happiness and sorrow. Joy and disappointment.  Stress and relief. Looking back, I think I learned a lot about myself- how I handle these emotions, these pressure-cooker situations where you win and lose on margins. Another thing that I really cherish about this period is the bond I further developed with some of my friends. We were all looking to get our foot in the door at the same places. We experienced similar challenges and we tasted success and failure at different times. Nevertheless, we were always there for each other. Whether it is to share the joy or the pain, whether it is to vent the frustration of a bad interview or share what clicked during a great interview. Cheers to our friendship!

As for me, I'll be here in NYC, gaining experience in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking! Now, if you really must know how many $$$ we will earn during the summer, go check out the 2010 career report. The numbers are still the same mostly :)