I don’t think I ever shared my full-time recruiting experience from last fall. I just came back from an MLT recruiting event, and I want to encourage all of you out there!! Rejection (or what feels like rejection) can be really tough to deal with, especially if you’ve had it pretty easy most of your life. For the most part, anything I applied to I received. Scholarships, jobs, school acceptances. I had never heard so many “No’s” in such a short time frame. I remember very clearly how I felt this time last year. I was a second year student in the MBA program at NYU Stern, and it was dry on campus. I did not receive a full-time offer during my summer internship for many reasons, and just about everybody who did, subsequently accepted. This made movement between companies almost impossible.
For an HR recruiter, perhaps the recruiting pool was so large and diverse they could select their dream candidate. Am I glad that for one company, I exceeded their requirements. But before I was extended and accepted that offer, many many interviews took place. The journey was loooooonng and emotional. I had a heads up that I was not going to receive my internship offer, actually. I received a call a few days before I heard the news from my boss. The campus recruiter reached out to me to ask me how my interview went (I will have to rewind and explain the circumstances under which I had an interview at the end of my internship. I started my internship in the 32nd week of pregnancy with the Lion, and he was born just shy of two weeks early, so because I’d left my biggest project dangling, I was scheduled to come back for a round of interviews at the end of the summer). I could tell by the direction and feel of the questions, she was probing, almost prying out a specific answer from me. She even had the gall to ask if I’d adequately slept the night before the interview. At this point I knew I’d bombed the interviews. After hanging up the phone, I shared the conversation with hubby and I came to the clear conclusion that I would not be receiving an offer.
I headed straight for the bathroom and took and long, hot shower and found myself sobbing because I had given that job 100%. I knew, without any doubt I had literally given it 100% and not even close to 99.999999%. There was not time at which I had faltered from my focus. I almost ran from meeting to meeting, and when I got back to my desk I responded to emails, ran to the bathroom, and then headed off to my next meeting. Everyday was like that. I didn’t pause for one single second. It was heartbreaking that I’d worked that hard and not seen any offer come through. It was hard for me, because I was so tired, and big and slow and I just wanted to be at home with my feet propped up on some sort of cushion. I wasn’t even that upset that I would not have the opportunity to work there, because I love my job right now, and I’m so glad that things worked out the way they did. I am 75% sure I would have accepted that offer if had existed. I know I would not have attended both diversity conferences (my current job resulted from a contact at the MLT alumni breakfast at NSHMBA) or recruited so intensely.
I was told that when the calibration meeting took place to determine who received offers, a few people really went to bat for me (thank you!), but in the end, if I had been extended an offer, I think my reputation would have been tainted by the fact that some managers needed to be convinced to bring me on board. My last Friday there, I was 3cm dilated and going from meeting to meeting and I would have stuck it out to very last second if I could have. I left my personal life at home, and never checked Facebook once at work. I was devoted, focused and determined, and that explains why I was so hurt. My best, my absolute very best was not enough.
When school started, I was concerned with how to handle inquiries about my internship. Classmates wanted to know who was working where, and I was embarrassed to share that I hadn’t closed the deal. Well, a nice size of us didn’t receive offers, and everyone was pretty sensitive about the topic so no one really pressed me for the details of my internship offer status and that was relieving. In fact, the maturity, concern and respect my Sternies showed was highly admirable. So many of us needed encouragement and support.
Full-time interviews started pretty soon. I made sure to attend both diversity conferences and followed up on leads coming out of both of them. I had interviews for marketing in just about every industry: CPG, finance, entertainment, technology, sports and even pharma. Pharma! What the hell was I thinking (the only industry I didn’t seriously pursue was luxury because I could not fake that funk for a million years). I could feel the pressure on my shoulders to get a job. Any job. I needed the confidence boost an offer gave. I wanted to know that somebody wanted to hire me. That somebody deemed me a strong enough candidate. To know that my name was at the top of a close list somewhere in the universe. To hear a “Yes!” you’re our top choice, instead of the taunting words, “The large number of inquiries we receive from highly qualified applicants has made our selection process a competitive one. Although your credentials are excellent, we regret that we are not able to proceed with your application for employment with [fill in the blank] at this time.”
Not making it to first rounds, and definitely not making it to second rounds is like getting dumped. Two companies were gracious enough to provide me feedback, which I found very helpful. Make sure to take advantage if the opportunity arises. I’d heard the gamut from some companies. As a classmate put it, companies were now handing out “runner-up” crowns. We were told things like, you are a really strong second candidate. We can only extend one offer, so our top choice has ten days to decide, and if they say no, it’s yours! I also heard, “if you don’t have anything by March, give us a call.” About five minutes before a second round interview, I was told “we don’t want to waste your time, and we don’t have an positions available right now, so may we reschedule for sometime in the spring, but only if you still need a job then.” Ughhhh, the craziness.
As the recruiting season began to come to a close and I still did not have an offer, I could feel fret trying to bubble inside me. I did not have a backup plan, because it would have consisted of more options I was not excited or genuinely passionate about. I came to b-school to transition to CPG marketing, and I didn’t want to give up on that dream. As December began, and I still did not have an offer, I set my hopes on hearing back from my (now current employer) top choice. I had entered the HR contact’s name and number into my cell phone, so there would not be ANY confusion about whose number showed up on the screen whenever he called with status updates.
The day he called, Kim, Gabi, Kareen and I were just leaving a splurge lunch at Max Brenners. We were walking along Broadway and I saw his name flash on the screen. It’s Jeff!!! I skipped a few paces ahead of the girls to take the call. When I hung up I turned and screamed!!!!! And so did they, which totally scared the closest strangers on the sidewalk. We had a mini celebration in front of Tisch and that was the last day of my full-time recruiting experience.