Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Job Search

It seems the reality of Darden is that just when you feel like you've got a handle on something, another new challenge rears it's ugly, opportunistic head.

For the first couple weeks of classes, I struggled with class participation. I didn't know how to raise my hand, didn't know how best to contribute value, didn't always know how to communicate my thoughts. While I don't consider myself an expert in any of those things, I've been feeling much better about class participation. There's even an objective measure of how I'm doing - the weekly peer-to-peer assessments in which we see how many times our peers have recognized us for contributing to their learning experience. So, all in all, I've been feeling more confident in that area of my academic life. (In fact, one of the highlights of my day yesterday was giving a definition for R-Squared in DA and hearing a flurry of typing as people wrote my definition into OneNote. Yes, it's the small things in life...)

Enter the job search.

Yesterday, I attended a briefing for one of the consulting companies that is right at the top of my desired company list. Basically how briefings work is that you sit in a room for 45 minutes while the representatives of the company tell you all about the company. All of that is really just a prelude to what has become not-so-affectionately known as "pit diving," in which dozens of keener students eagerly swarm the company representatives in hopes of making a positive impression.

During said "pit dive," you are expected to make small talk with the company representatives. Now, I have spoken in front of over 1,000 people before. I've given presentations to classmates, managers, boards and children, all with the greatest of ease and confidence. But put me in a small talk situation with someone and I suddenly feel awkward and unsure. In order to combat this fear, I wrote a paper in an undergrad communications class on small talk, and while that helped, it is still something I dread. (It doesn't even help to know that everyone else feels the exact same way about small talk or that people are surprised I fear small talk because they think I'm social.)

And if all that isn't enough to fear, there is the resume to deal with. Before Darden, resumes were a simple list of job titles and responsibilities. Not anymore. Now each bullet point has to be tied to a situation, task, action and result. And, wherever possible, said result must be quantifiable. All of that makes me wish that I hadn't only just been starting the development of metrics before I left the Company.

Anyway, if I've learned anything over the last two months, it is that sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and do what you need to do, regardless of your level of confidence. I have learned that the greatest blessing can be recognizing your weaknesses and then figuring out what to do with them. If I managed to get a better handle on the class participation puzzle, I can do it with the job search as well. (And then I'll be finished with challenges until my fabulous internship starts, right?)

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