Friday, February 11, 2011

The Climb

Mulling over this strange, roller coaster-like saga that we've fondly called "the recruitment process" in business school, I'm reminded of a song I heard a while back. This teeny boppy song many people will find corny, mind you. But if you listen closely to the lyrics, it's actually quite beautiful and very apt to the many events unfolding in the Darden halls these days.

Today, a dear friend of mine called me to share wonderful news--she received an offer from one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the country and in one of the most coveted offices. This would have made any other business school student happy but "happy" cannot even begin to describe how she is feeling now. See, I've seen this friend go through hell and back (apologies for the crude language) to get this job. I saw her cry from the first three rejection calls she received, stand back up and try harder, then go numb of pain, exhaustion, and defeat from the next two rejections. In the end, she resigned to the high probability of her going back home and possibly taking her old job back by the summer. So yes, she is beyond thrilled and I must say, "damn well-deserved!"

The early part of the recruitment saga I can relate to the first part of the song's lyrics:

I can almost see it
that dream I'm dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying,
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
lost with no direction
my faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

And then, there's that latter part. That part when students start receiving offer after offer after offer. Your first offer will make you invite some friends for celebratory drinks. The second one will perhaps have you bargaining for a higher compensation package. And the third will most probably make you want more. This might not be true for all but I'm sure we can somehow relate to this insatiable feeling of wanting more, whether more interview invites, more job offers, or just something more out of life. It's funny how at first we start with saying "just one (just one offer)," then "Two is always better than one, right?" and then we end up thinking, "I want more."

I think I know why. It's the climb.

The latter part of the lyrics sums it up best:

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

So yes, it's not just about that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or how fast you get there. It's that climb. It's that thrill of overcoming something seemingly unattainable at first. It's that satisfaction we get from proving to ourselves that we can. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Life after all is about progress, about pushing yourself beyond your own boundaries and becoming better than you were yesterday. And that's exactly why I'm in business school today.

I wonder though, when does it end? This part of life seems to me like a circular reference (one of Excel's woes). What variable feeds what? Is the fat paycheck the end goal to arrive at the optimal number of job offers? Or is it that qualitative aspect of success? That sense of fulfillment from knowing that you've made more than a quantitative impact to society and to your life?

I wish that someday I'll have the wisdom to know the difference.

Lyrics from Miley Cyrus' song, The Climb