A Day-In-The-Life: Investment Banking Interview Edition

First-year Jason Arican recently (and successfully) wrapped up recruiting for an investment banking summer internship.  One of the great strengths of Booth is the number of investment banks which recruit on campus for summer internships and full-time positions all over the US and the world.  This gives Booth students incredible access to firms and a one-stop-shop for internships, with the ability to interview at a number of firms all in one place over the course of a week in January.  Jason shares what the interview experience was like in one of his busier days, and reflects on the great preparation he got from his classmates, the Investment Banking Group, Career Services, and coursework at Booth.  For more on Jason’s investment banking recruiting experience, check out his post on his Bank Week recruiting trek to NYC last quarter.
–Matt Richman

4:35 am: Unlike during Bank Week, I will not be hitting the snooze button today. Today is the first day of on-campus recruiting and, as much as I want to, there is no way I can go back to sleep.
 
4:50 am: I’m out of bed, so that’s a solid start. Except now I am I just pacing back and forth across my living room, asking myself the same interview questions out loud and practicing my anticipated answers. I try to outsmart myself by asking a slightly different question, or challenging an answer with a tough follow-up. I pause and laugh at the thought of the proverbial fly on the wall observing a man who has seemingly been driven to madness.
 
6:56 am: I get a ride today from a fellow classmate who is also recruiting for banking. If all goes well, I will be invited back for final round interviews that take place either this week or next. For as much as this process has been a marathon, now we sprint.
 
7:50 am: My first interview is not until 9:30 am, so I set up shop in a group study room that a few friends and I have reserved for the day. When we arrived at Booth, students had the option of selecting a second-year student as a mentor and my mentor has been a tremendous help. Last week when we sat down for a mock interview, she gave me a ton of useful tips, including the importance of having a quiet space during interview week as a home base to decompress.  
 
9:15 am: I arrive at the Career Services wing of the Harper Center. The check-in desk is a bustling central nervous system of Career Services staff, some of whom are directing traffic, while others are doing last minute reviews of resumes and cover letters. I have always been so impressed with just how well-run Booth is. All the details matter, even down to the fact that interview rooms have reverse peep holes on the doors (yes, just like Seinfeld) so that you can look inside to see if an interview is currently in progress before knocking. Maybe I’m just easily impressed but I find that so cool.
 
9:30 am: For all the nerves that build up in the moments just before the interview, there is a calm and confidence that sets in as I get started. The stakes are high, yes, but we have spent almost a month in formal preparation and informally, we have been preparing for this moment since we arrived on campus in September. This interview in particular is case-based and it requires me to take everything I have learned about valuing a company and apply it to a theoretical scenario – the type of questions for which Booth classes prepare us so well. 
 
11:20 am: After my first interview, I go back to the study room to hang out with a few classmates and cram in some additional last-minute prep. As I head upstairs for my next interview, I feel the need to pick my energy up so I impulsively slap myself in the face. It gets the adrenaline pumping, but I slap myself a little too hard and now my ears are ringing. I am also worried about now having a red hand mark on the side of my face. This is bad, but I suppose I will be lucky if this is the worst thing that happens to me today.
 
11:40 am: Mike Tyson once proclaimed, “Everyone has a plan– until they get punched in the mouth.” My next interview is going wonderfully, until I am knocked off guard by a tough finance question. I go blank. I have to pause for a moment and remember that these technical questions are not about getting the right answer, but more about showing how you reason through challenges. I think back to all of the technical mock interviews I had with my classmates, compose myself, and give it my best shot.
 
1:15 pm: My last interview of the day kicks off and ends up being a breeze compared to the others, and I’m thankful for that. 
 
1:45 pm: Afterwards, I walk out into the Winter Garden and chat with classmates. People are visibly relaxed at this point and the conversations are a lot more laid-back. We share notes, joke about our slip-ups and regrettable answers, or just try to talk about anything but interviews.

6:03 pm:  My heart jumps as my phone rings with an unfamiliar number on the screen.  I pick up and one of my interviewers from earlier in the day calls with the good news that I’ve been invited to a final round tomorrow in their Chicago office (the nice thing about attending business school in Chicago is that whether you are recruiting for Chicago or other cities, many of the interviews happen here). Can I drop everything to join them for a few hours downtown?  Absolutely.
 

In retrospect, I thought the day went well. As a class, we have spent hours and days together getting ready for this important phase in the business school time line. This has truly been a team effort in all aspects, ranging from second-year students who have been generous with their time and guidance, as well as the world-class team in Career Services. I am certain that, on the whole, we will all find the best internship for our goals.

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