I spent the weekend glued to my phone, waiting for the call that would tell me whether or not I had received an offer from Barclays. Whenever I was separated from my phone, I started bouncing up and down until the moment I could race back to it and check the screen with shaking hands. Then, seeing nothing, I would feel my stomach plummet, followed by mounting anticipation and terror.
My friends suggested that I tell myself I wouldn’t get the offer — but how could I, when that would mean all this work was for nothing and I was back to square one, with no other interviews on the horizon? And yet, as the week dragged on, the possibility of receiving a Barclays offer was becoming increasingly unlikely.
The Wednesday after the Super Day, I bumped into a girl whom I had met at the program. “Did you hear back yet?”
“Oh — yes I have!” she said, and my stomach lurched. “I got the call this morning. I was so nervous — I don’t know why it took them so long.”
“That’s … great!” I said. “Are you gonna accept the offer?”
“Yeah, I think so! Did you hear back yet?”
I looked down at my feet. “No.”
“Oh … well, maybe they’re still deciding,” she said. “Good luck!”
A week later, I got the call I had been dreading: “We regret to inform you that we are not able to extend you an offer for our summer analyst class.”
When I got home, I texted my friends as nonchalantly as possible.
After hitting send, I put my head down on my desk and sighed deeply, unable to stem the tide of pessimistic thoughts bombarding my head.
If I couldn’t get an offer from Barclays, stereotypically less selective than most bulge bracket banks and one which I had spent so much time recruiting for, would I be accepted anywhere? I stared gloomily at the list of info sessions later in the day, and instead shut off the lights and took a long nap.
The next day, I bumped into a senior friend in the elevator. “How’s recruiting going?” he asked.
“Pretty bad … I just got rejected from Barclays yesterday. And I spent so much time going to their recruiting events.”
He nodded. “Don’t worry. It’s usually a fit kind-of thing.”
I shrugged and stepped out of the elevator. “Yeah, I guess.”
“No, really!” He said earnestly, holding the elevator doors open. “Recruiting isn’t like studying for a test; it’s more like finding a girlfriend. You could spend hours recruiting for a firm, but if there isn’t a culture fit, then it won’t matter. Didn’t you notice each firm has a distinct culture?”
“See, it works like this. Let’s say you’re recruiting for 10 firms, spaced out during the semester …” The elevator buzzed impatiently, and he hesitated and then stepped out. “So you have 10 firms, right? And each have their own culture?”
“Well, you’re probably going to ‘fit’ best with two to three of them. But the firms finish recruiting at different times during the semester. If you get an offer from the first two firms you recruit at, then you’re lucky. If you don’t have an offer yet, it’s likely the firm you fit best with is recruiting near the middle or end of the semester. You see? The timing of who gets an offer first is really irrelevant, because it all depends on which firms are recruiting at what times. You could fit best with the first two, or the middle two, or the last — it’s all very random. It doesn’t have anything to do with your capabilities.”
I stared at him, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.
“Don’t take it so hard,” he said gently. “Just keep recruiting — there’s no one at Wharton who wants to do banking and hasn’t gotten a job.”
That night, I sat at my laptop with renewed vigor, scheduling more phone calls and info sessions, and sending my resume to as many firms as possible. Ten firms? I had just barely recruited for three.
The next day, I received three more first-round interviews, and was accepted for a final-round interview at J.P. Morgan. I was back in the game.
Illustration by Claudia Li, C’18
Posted: May 12, 2016