Friday, January 7, 2011


Caveat: This entry is in no way meant to be insensitive to the plight my classmates who are making intense preparations for their internship interviews and are in the process of landing internship positions. Rather, this is one girl's reflections on the choices she made and the possible repercussions of those choices. So, do read with caution.

Three days ago I was ecstatic. I was in Mountain View, CA, sitting in a company's conference room for one of our job trek visits when my phone buzzed with an email. The email read, "You have been invited to interview with (insert company name)." Reading the company's name gave me an unexplainable feeling of excitement. See, this company was one of my top companies to work for. This was my McKinsey (top consulting firm that many of my consulting-bound classmates would shed an arm and a leg for). That plus the fact that they only invited a handful for interview. So suffice it to say that I was beyond thrilled. My happiness was short-lived though as I remember the difficult dilemma I was facing.

Two months ago, I received my first internship offer from a Fortune 50 company with a great leadership program. Since the company did not recruit on-grounds at Darden, I reached out to some associates who interned and eventually worked there full-time. The conversations I had with them confirmed the quality of the program and I knew I would be foolish not to accept the offer. This plus the fact that they pay package was highly competitive and the company was headquartered in one of the most beautiful cities in the US.
Decision deadline: mid-January

One month ago, I was very surprised to receive my second internship offer from another great company. Their hiring process was very intensive, the final round being a set of three interviews with senior management, each with 4-5 mini finance cases. I was almost definitely sure I wouldn't be getting an offer especially after meeting my competition at their headquarters. But God works in mysterious ways and I received my offer a day after I flew back to Charlottesville.
Decision deadline: early January

A few days ago I made phone calls to the two companies that sent me internship offers. I kindly asked for an extension of the decision deadline they gave me. I was told by the career office and second years that most companies agreed to an extension to give students a chance to weigh their options before deciding on which offer to accept. Unfortunately, both companies denied my request. Since I was given an early offer, they needed to know my decision ASAP to figure out how many more they will be hiring from the normal recruiting timelines. Very reasonable, of course.

So, there I was staring at the (interview invite) email that I've worked so hard for. I could literally have jumped for joy but the phone calls I made a few days back made my heart sink as quickly as it had palpitated with joy. There was no way for me to interview with this company (total of 5-6 rounds starting end January and ending in March) with my decision deadlines due this week and next. It would be foolish and impractical to reject two equally great job opportunities for a shot at an internship job with possibly less than 10% success rate. Who was I to take such big risk?

Today, I am sad. I had just clicked the 'decline' button in my 'interviews' page. I also called the career office to make sure my decline was reflected and the alternate got the invite since I had waited until the last minute to decline. I just didn't have the heart to make that final click of the mouse that drew the curtains to a close.

Life is truly ironic. Sometimes, you will find yourself wanting something so badly that you exert all your effort to get it. You will pray very hard for it. You will go out of your way to initiate something, you will spend hours and days to get things moving and you will give up time for yourself and your friends to seal the deal. But when you finally get there, when you are facing that one thing that you've wanted so much, you hear yourself say 'No.'

It would have been utterly hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

I guess these are what we call choices. Once you make your choice, all one can hope for is not to look back and regret. No wishing there were two or three of me, no 'what-ifs,' no more sadness, only moving on and hopefully finally feeling happy and content with blessings one didn't even dare dream of having.

And I quote Robert Frost in 'The Road Not Taken:'

Two roads diverged in yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both...