A Life in the Days of an IIMBian
A post more than 18 months in the making…
Dear diary, Today I bugged the hell out of my mentors. And my resume mentors. And any other mentor I might have interacted with in the course of my 4 months stint at IIM Bangalore. Thankfully Acad (and our Admin) gave us a day off between Mid-terms and Summer Placements so that I may mug in peace. Have been cramming up on Derivatives from Hull, Corporate Finance from Brearly & Myers, PDFs from DC, PPTs from batchmates, every issue of ET and The Hindu, and yeah, personals that are liable to be asked. Case studies have been spewing forth, till I can mumble in my sleep, “If we assume that the number of families in India is…” I feel so under-prepared. I haven’t brushed up on the Indium and Ytterbium commodity markets. Got my suit ironed, though. Tried it on, and it feels funny and good at the same time. I will have to wear it for around five days, so I better get used to it. I have been debating whether to sleep or put a night out to study for the process. It’s midnight and I thi……
(On the Zeroth Day of Placements, PlaceCom gave to me zero worries at the end of the day)
The air is buzzing with excitement. Everyone’s in their suited-booted best. I got to the MDC at 8 AM and saw the whole batch there, dressed to kill. Alas, no company had lent their presence yet. And the wait commenced…
The seniors are everywhere- manning the hospitality desk (they tell us that sutta is going to be the most overused item), at the front lobby practising their smiles and wiles for the companies, holding walkie-talkies and tracking for the ‘critical candidates’, in the control room- maybe holding our destinies in schedules.
I don’t think I am a critical candidate. Geez, I wish I had studied more for JEE. Or not been an engineer- whatever.
I go take Coke from the machine- this promises to be one of millions of trips, and join in the banalities being uttered by more of my ilk- the non-critical candidates. The camaraderie is pleasant and I can mentally see people gearing up to face the barrage of interviews.
It’s going to be a long day.
After 90 minutes of Coke-induced high, the tracker calls for me, and I follow him (why is it always a him?) into the 3rd floor for my first interview of the day. They tell me it’s a global bank and wants me for IBD. Great. Maybe I can dazzle them with my fin knowledge.
I give weak smiles all around. Already news has filtered in of people making it to the top banks. The PR comes and sits next to me, grins and gives me a thumbs up. “You are in their good list.”
“There was a bad list, is there?”, I quip. I want to ask him what happens to yield rates when time to maturity increases.
Why’s my mind blank? I KNOW the answers, don’t I? I learnt them for the past one month.
In the middle of this muddle, the volunteer calls me in.There are two firangs in the room, and I give them my most dazzling smile. There’s a momentary tussle while they ask for my resume and I refuse to hand them my black IIMB file. It feels like my last lifeline has been thrown out.
The first question seems a sitter, “So, why would you make a good banker?”
Damn. Hadn’t I done this one? Relax, kid. Smile a bit. The answer shall come to you in a bit.
The consult answer slips out, “I am enthusiastic, strive to do the best…”
After 1 minute, I lamely end, “… and err, I am good at err… Maths.” That must be the single biggest lie I have ever told in my life.
3 minutes later, it was over. The first interview in my life I knew they weren’t calling me again for.
Well, that’s a novel experience. Let’s have some more Coke. Ahh! Samosas! Is it already 10?! Wow, time sure flies when you are having fin.
Barely had I landed on the sofa downstairs when someone yells, “YOU! Go to the big consultancy on the ground floor opposite.”
Cool. Another company where I can make a fool of myself.
Dutifully, I make my way into the landing where the company has made a full appearance. People are walking to and fro and a super senior comes and gives me a full-sized grin. I immediately feel better. “Here have a five star.”
Well, I won’t say no, and boy, I don’t see any Coke around.
After five minutes of waiting, munching a chocolate and seeing happy gatherings of people, I relax. And there she comes- the partner- who shakes my hand with a pleasant smile and pushes me firmly in.
I look outside with a sense of despair. Not again! I can’t do this.
Before you can say “Case study!”, she’s looking through a thick file and asking me, “So how do you like doing case studies?”
“Sure! If you say so!”, I project enthusiasm in every syllable.
She smiles and asks, “So why should you hire you?”
Out it comes again, “I am enthusiastic…”
One minute later, I end it properly, “… and I love this company!”
She smiles, clearly happy with the answer, “Let’s do the case! Estimate number of asses who buy hair accessories in India!”
(Small aside: 1) So many exclamation marks? C’mon, they were enthu! 2) Of course, the case was different.)
I start carefully, “If we assume India’s population to be 1 billion, and the ass: human ratio to be 1:10000. Is that a good assumption?”
“How do you get that number?”
“Observation, mainly. But are you talking only of donkeys or a more varied species that may contain people too?”
“I’d like the complex formulation.”
“Then the different kinds of asses are- 1) Men- 500 million, 2) donkeys, 3) Some women.”
Both of us have a good laugh and continue to find the target segment for hair accessories .”
30 minutes later, I am escorted into another room where I proceed to find out how many numerical errors I can make in the space of 5 minutes. Maths is soooo my strong suit!
At 11:15, I am out and they push me into a chair to ‘wait’. After half an hour, I start fidgeting, when the PR comes. He raises his eyebrow and I motion inside and mouth, “I am waiting.”
He nods curtly and leaves and I get another five star! I ask my super-senior, “Can I please go take a break and come?”
“Hmm, okay. But COME back!”
Err, yeah, I am not being called or anything. I have a whole Day-0 to loaf around!
Five minutes later I am back, and at 12:30, I am called in again.
The partner apologises for keeping me waiting and says, “We need to test your ability to ask questions.”
Sure! What am I doing here for so long? Do you want to take me into this company? Can I go back now? Please?
After the sustained barrage of questions, the partner wilts and says he will make me an offer!
At one o clock, I am outta there, job offer in hand. The PR signs me out of the company and mutters, “One more out of summers” into the walkie-talkie.He has a few choice words to say, “You will NOT tell anyone you got an offer from big consultancy.”
I nod happily and go out, training my face into a worried look. People get up in unison and ask, “How did it go? It’s been too long!”
I shrug nonchalantly and a friend pats me on my back and says, “It’s OK. You still have the other big consultancy.”
I look up and a tracker smiles at me in the midst of flicking his eyes from corner to corner. I grin slightly and hurry down to call my folks.
The half an hour I’ve been out, things have changed. The moment I step onto the waiting area, people surround me and say, “Congrats!”
Aww shucks, and now he will think I told everyone.
“Thanks, but who told you?”
My friend comes and pinches my arm, “And to think I wasted so much sympathy on you.”
Suddenly, another tracker pushes me into a bank’s process. The HR is standing outside and asking what we are interested in.
She shakes my hand and wishes me luck.
Hey, this is fun!
The other consultancy calls me in, and I stand outside. Someone murmurs, “Please go tank it.”
Boy, do I tank this one. Twenty minutes later, they are very pleased to chuck me out. Somehow I think I will never be welcome anywhere near it again.
(Aside: 3) And I wasn’t.)
At 4 o’ clock, everyone is standing and chatting about the funny stories. The one where one bank was so hellbent on a friend, he was asked if he wanted monthly flybacks home. The ones where an ibank and a consult took simultaneous interviews of another friend. And in the middle, I saw those groups of people who were sitting there with their files on their laps, nothing to do. And boy, I feel like such a heel.
More on that. The story continues.