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The Truth about Corporate Job Recruiting: My best advice as a Cornell Senior

The truth is, it sucks.

As a graduating senior in college with a job lined up for after graduation, trust me, I know how privileged I am. But believe me when I tell you that I went through it with corporate recruiting during my Junior year of college. In 2021, when I experienced all the emotions and feelings that come with rejection, successes and half-successes, I promised myself that one day I would be transparent about the process, so that others wouldn't feel as alone as I did when I was going through it.

The first thing that I want to mention is that when I was applying to jobs, I had no idea what field I wanted to apply to. I didn't know what I was qualified for (the real answer is I was qualified for nothing), and I didn't know what industry even appealed to me. As an economics major, business and finance seemed like natural fits, so I sent resumes to big banks, businesses and other similar postings that listed "Economics" as a "preferred major". In reality though, I had no idea what most of the jobs that I applied to even were, and did a lot of the learning after hearing back from certain companies. Truth be told, it's much easier to care about doing research on a company when the company has expressed interest in you already, otherwise why do I need to know the values of JPMorgan Chase off the top of my head?

Despite not knowing what I wanted to apply to, it turned out that I submitted most of my applications to similar positions at various firms with little variation and ended up zeroing in on finance-based positions as a result. What ended up happening too, was that I sent my resume to a bunch of firms that only required a resume upload just to test my chances. "Small downside with a huge upside potential", as my Industrial Labour Relations professor would say.

The second thing I want to mention is that I started applying to positions for 2022 in June of 2021. I was studying at Berklee College of Music for 5 weeks in the summer of 2021, and while I was there, applications for bigger firms were beginning to open. That summer, I had decided to pursue my musical education in lieu of a traditional corporate internship because I figured I'd have more luck applying as a Junior in college anyways. I say this to say that I started applying pretty early, and so my recruiting cycle really lasted from June to December of 2021. It was a long 6 months of interviews, rejections, negotiations and few successes. Not to mention balancing the roughest fall semester of my college career through it too.

The part that they don't tell you about corporate job recruiting is that it can feel very lonely. If you're like me, and you're even somewhat competitive in nature, your natural inclination will be to keep everything under wraps and only share your successes. To only share the "I got a job at JPMorgan!" while whole time you're an anxious mess because of the stress of corporate communication norms. Throughout the process, I learnt that the only way I was gonna make it through was to share with the people closest to me and to seek support from the people who I could trust. So instead of sitting there on my own trying to figure out how I could optimize my resume and cover letters or interview better, I reached out to my friends who I knew had already secured jobs and had been through the process. Because truth be told, while yes - failure can feel embarrassing - the people who truly love you want to see you succeed, so even if you fail, there's nothing to be ashamed of - so did 95% of the other applicants to that position.

And that brings me to my third point. Your friends. And in particular, LinkedIn.

My best advice from a mental health point of view is this - Delete LinkedIn.

You'll spend more time on LinkedIn being sad that your friends and the people you know are working at other companies, than actually using it to network. It's an app that has boundless potential for connecting with people, but let's be honest, when you're applying to jobs it only hurts your mental health. Who are you really connecting with when you don't even know what industry you want to apply to?

When I was applying, I was super interested in making my LinkedIn really appealing. I wanted to have 500+ connections, have all my relevant experiences properly laid out and all that jazz. And yes, that stuff is important once you enter the corporate world, so that you can begin to network and keep track of the professional connections that you make. But when I was applying to jobs, opening LinkedIn always felt like opening Pandora's box. It was a series of emotions every time, ranging from "I'm really happy for her!" to "He's not qualified for that job!" to "What's wrong with me? Why can't I get a job?".

If Instagram is bad because it shows only the best moments of a person's life, LinkedIn is bad because it only shows the best moments of a person's career. When job searching and feeling discouraged with the recruiting process, scrolling on LinkedIn is the equivalent to scrolling on Instagram and wishing you had someone else's life. It's sad, depressing and most of all counter-productive. You trick yourself into thinking you're using the app to network, when in reality, you're beating yourself up because someone you know just got a job at the company that you got rejected from. If that's remotely you, delete LinkedIn.

And why is this so important? Because again, as I've said before in my blog post on my creative journey, comparing yourself to others will always make you feel less than what you are. Just because you didn't get that job doesn't mean that anyone is better than you. Just because your life's path isn't how you imagined it to be doesn't mean that your life's path isn't amazing too. Cherish your individuality and don't compare yourself to others because everyone's journey is different, and no two people had the same journey to where they are even if they end up in the same position at some point in life.

And that brings me to point number four, which is that recruiting is not black and white, nor is it linear.

As I said, I started applying to jobs for 2022 in June of 2021. The first company I sent my resume to was actually JPMorgan Chase in June 2021, but between that I sent my resume to places like GEICO, AlphaSights, Spotify, BlackRock and literally almost every corporate industry in between. I think you can apply to up to around 3-5 positions at JPMorgan at a time, so you know me - I applied to 3. I did 3 HireVues (digital interviews) for 3 different positions, and yep, by July 2021, I got rejected from 3 of them. Surprise, surprise.

In October, another position of interest at JPMorgan opened up - "Wealth Management Summer Analyst". Did I know what Wealth Management was at the time? Nope. Did it sound like something I could do? Who knows, but I'll learn. Clearly, my dream company was JPMorgan because I had already been rejected from 3 similar positions, so what possible reason could they have to accept me for the 4th.

I sent my resume to that position, and by the grace of the gods, I was offered a Super Day (final round interview) in December.

Now here's where my point about recruiting not being black and white really hits home. By the time I had received the offer for the final round interview with JPMorgan, I had already had offers from GEICO and AlphaSights on the table, with impending deadlines before the date of the interview. I had held out on both for pretty long, and to be honest, was hoping to be able to complete recruiting with JPMorgan before making a final decision. However, AlphaSights wouldn't let me extend my offer with them any longer, and so I had to give it up. It was a good offer, but I really wanted JPMorgan, so I needed to weigh my risks. GEICO allowed me to extend my offer deadline, so I had that offer until I finished interviewing with JPMorgan, but not long enough to get a decision.

What did that mean? I had to press them.

After interviewing with JPMorgan, I let them know (kindly) that I had another offer deadline coming up, so I would really really appreciate it if I could hear back as soon as possible, because my GEICO deadline was within a week of my final round interview with JPMorgan.

On the day my GEICO offer decision was due, I emailed my JPMorgan recruiter desperately, hoping for some sort of response. Immediately after my email, not even 10 minutes after, she called me and said "Unfortunately, we can't offer you the position at this time but please just keep your communications open and if things change we'll be in touch with you".

Shit. I pressed too hard. I forced them to make a decision, and now look at what I'd done.

Now then a sliver of hope once again came in the same day I received that rejection call. BlackRock, the asset management firm, had invited me to a final round interview literally while I was on the phone with JPMorgan. What in the ??

As a result of that, I was able to extend my offer with GEICO again, citing that I wanted to be able to have all recruiting done before making a decision. I ended up having my BlackRock final round interviews literally 30 minutes after an economics final exam, and had about a week to go before having to reply to GEICO. This was the end of my finals period, and I went home to Jamaica right after.

Within a week of being home - this is now December 28 - head recruiter at JPMorgan sends me an email. "Hey, we've been trying to reach your phone for a few days now to no avail, give us a call when you have the chance. We have an update on your application"

This happens regularly. I live outside of the US so I change my SIM card to my Jamaican number when I'm back at home. My US number doesn't work over the break, and why would I have given JPMorgan my Jamaican number? I was already rejected by them FOUR times.

Long story short, I gave the recruiter a call through Magic Jack (because that's the only way I could call the US), and she offered me the job which they had initially rejected me for. I had come full circle. The first company I applied to, ended up being the last company I heard from, and the job that I subsequently accepted.

I say this all to say that no two journeys are the same, and corporate recruiting will turn you upside down and drive you absolutely crazy if you don't have the right expectations. My story is really convoluted, and I experienced so many different emotions, and a bunch of them from the same exact company that I ended up interning with in 2022.

In the end however, it all worked out for me. And I know. If you're in the process right now of sending resumes and trying to find a job, know this - you're not alone, and everything you're feeling right now is valid. You're nothing less because someone else got a job, and your journey might look completely different from others' right now, but trust the process. Reach out for help - feel free to even contact me. It's a seriously mentally taxing process, but there's support around you, and you don't have to do it alone.

All the very best.

Until next Sunday,

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