Friday, February 28, 2014 at 12am

The MBA Job Search Process is Like Dating

The MBA Job Search Process is Like Dating main image

Learn why the MBA hiring process is a lot like the dating world, according to a Darden MBA student.

"The MBA Job Search Process is like dating.”

When I first heard this from a career advisor at Darden, I thought it made no sense at all. After all I was brought up to believe that hard work, grit, and determination could get you anything or anyone in life. Right? Err… Not quite.

Having spent close to seven months going through the MBA job search process, the more I think about it the more I realize that the MBA Job search is exactly like dating!

Companies and candidates are like the opposite sexes trying to find the perfect partner. Oftentimes when you think back to school, undergraduate, work, and for some, even now, you can picture exactly how the dating dynamics work.

The 'types' of MBA jobs

There are always the oh so popular guys and girls (MBA jobs) who are extremely attractive, sought after, and the idea of being with them somehow makes you feel better about yourself – aka the investment banking and consulting jobs; they may be the best fit for you but more often than not, you want them only because ‘you can’t have them easy’ and they are the MBA jobs everyone seems to be after all the time!

Then come the geeky yet super cool kids who could whip up complicated math and science into the most magical project or unbelievable test scores that make them somewhat peculiar. You can only attract only in that parallel genius universe too – aka the tech firms. You either totally want them or don’t want them at all. There is no let me see if I might like them.

Then there are the extremely unassuming kids but have numerous dimensions to them which no one ever had a chance to see unless you know them really well aka the general management firms which offer immense opportunity and depth in their roles yet somehow always remain a backup option to the prom.

Finally those who are the story tellers, poets, writers, and debaters, those who are dreamy, creative, and quirky – the marketing firms which flaunt the coolest brands and labels; these MBA jobs are the ones you all want to be but you know you can’t because you simply aren’t as suave.

And so begins the ever seductive dating dance of the MBA job search process. You see recruiters for the first time in the hallway (briefing), they agree to go for coffee (office hours), make endless phone calls (networking calls), meet them a couple of times (closed list events), dinners (cocktails) etc. Most nights you are double dating. You are either booked with too many dates, or you have no dates at all. Looking back, I don’t know which was worse, being on numerous bad dates, or desperately waiting for that one call/email from those who made your stomach flip with butterflies.

Seal the deal with the MBA interview

And then you finally click. You decide to see each other on the fifth date (the MBA interview). This date confirms mutual feelings for each other. The MBA interview seals the deal about whether you want to go to the prom/get engaged – the summer internship. This may or may not materialize into a marriage (a full-time offer), but at least you both know you gave it a fair shot.

While all we want at the moment is a date… any date…for the prom is close and everyone around you seems to already have a date (more than one in some instances!). What most of us forget is that you might “want” someone really badly and you might be the perfect fit for them, but if they don’t want you bad enough then that is not the kind of a relationship you want to be in anyway. Because even if you end up getting married, (you bid for an MBA interview and get accepted), sooner or later one of you is headed for the door… and your MBA job search starts all over again…

Some are lucky to find the perfect partner at the beginning of their MBA job search and others not so lucky… a few hit and misses and a few trial and errors, but when you look at life and relationships around you, you know that you usually end up alright.  So here is hoping that your perfect date and life partner is waiting just around the corner, because life is too short to simply settle for anything or anyone less…

About Archana Rao

Archana Rao is pursuing an MBA at Darden and will spend the summer at the Boston Consulting Group in management consulting. Prior to this she was a Teach for India fellow, maximizing holistic student achievement and championing women empowerment in low income communities. She also worked in IT project management and corporate sustainability at the HSBC Bank post pursuing electronics and telecommunication engineering. She created a Post-it cartooning website and enjoys blogging.

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