Power of Surrounding Yourself with Supportive and Loving Individuals
Jinnie Rhee, English Columnist
September of 2018 was one of my most difficult months. A slew of traumatic events, including the passing of a beloved family member, that unexpectedly shook the very ground beneath me made an already challenging month of job recruitment, a demanding course load, and extracurricular organizations nearly unbearable. In retrospect, I was able to get through the difficult weeks thanks to the love and support from special ones around me – in particular, my roommate, Allison, and my mentor, Roshan.
Allison and I were both going through full-time recruitment for management consulting, an industry notorious for its grueling recruitment process with incredibly high-pressure interview processes. Due to the fact that most firms were interviewing candidates in the same two weeks, the average day looked like this: a final round interview with Deloitte from 9 AM to 9:45 AM, two first round interviews with McKinsey from 10 AM to 12 PM, two first round interviews with Accenture from 12:45 PM to 2:15 PM, a phone call with an APT analyst, and an interviewee dinner with McKinsey.
Every night, Allison and I would discuss our performance in the series of interviews for the day, our pure exhaustion, and the sharp downward turn of our grades and social lives. But there were also exciting moments we shared together, whether that was being in the same room when we got a call to move on to the next round of interviews, or even a job offer. There was so much comfort in sharing these moments with someone who truly understood. The ability to be honest and feel love from one in the same situation as myself - and to provide that same support to her - helped us both keep a hold on our sanity. When I was breaking down in tears because I could not handle another day, Allison was there to comfort me, encourage me, and reassure me that everything would work out and I would do the same for her.
Bain was the first company to notify first round candidates of whether or not they had moved on to the next round. I did not move forward in the process. This absolutely broke me. I had sacrificed my academics, my friendships, and to some degree, my sanity, as the recruitment process had resulted in an unhealthy amount of stress. It was unfair. My eyes welled up with tears at the thought of feeling inadequate. I irrationally vacillated between “I bring valuable perspectives and strong work ethic” and “I’m not cut out for this… what do I even have to offer?” Although it was the first firm that I heard back from, if I couldn’t get through their process, what were the odds that I would be able to get an offer from other firms that evaluate candidates on similar metrics? On top of that, Bain was one of my two dream companies - the other being McKinsey.
Immediately after, I called Roshan, my mentor who is also an analyst at McKinsey. After a long-winded emotional monologue, he told me exactly what I needed to hear. First, he explained the importance of staying as rational as possible. Bain was just one company out of many. Be as apathetic to these results as possible and think of them as though you’re just going through tasks and checking them off. One interview done, on to the next. Yes, it is normal to be sad, but now is not the time to be emotional. Yes, allow yourself some space to be upset, but quickly set that aside until recruitment is over. Secondly, this process is a numbers game. Given the sheer number of qualified candidates and nuanced variables in this process that you have no control over, you cannot take this personally. Feeling inadequate and insecure would be a disservice to you, inhibiting you from performing at your best. Finally, the importance of a self-confident mindset. You are valuable. You have much to contribute and the companies that don’t see that are the ones who lose out. Don’t let the process run you – you run the process. My tears instantly dried up. I couldn’t have made it through the rest of the process without this single phone call.
After my McKinsey final round interview, the endless loop of my memories of the interviews was tortuous – I started to magnify my mistakes and small nuggets of success during my interviews morphed into: “maybe I didn’t do as well as I thought…” I wanted this so badly. Having been unable to eat, and standing over the toilet because of my stress-induced nausea the whole day, Allison pulled me out to go eat some Ethiopian food, one of my favorite foods. We had both finished our final rounds for McKinsey and were anxiously awaiting our phone calls.
Support comes in a lot of different forms – the steady presence and unspoken understanding of Allison, or an instantaneously morale boosting speech of Roshan.
I honestly owe at least half my “success” to these two, as well as everyone else who had supported me throughout my interview processes. After all is said and done, Allison will be working at Bain and I’ll be at McKinsey.
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