When I think back to the winter of 2010, I remember being excited; excited and nervous. I had moved to Toronto for school intending to leverage my master’s program into a career on Bay Street and though I didn’t initially know exactly what I wanted to do, by the end of my first semester I had decided. I was going to be an investment banker.
Unfortunately, becoming a banker is kind of like getting pregnant; you can’t be half pregnant. When application time comes along, you either land a job or you don’t. Of course, I was applying for an internship, so I would have a chance to apply for full time jobs the next time around if necessary. Nonetheless a summer internship is probably the best or at least the easiest way to break into the industry and that’s why I was excited and nervous. For the first time in my life I knew exactly what I wanted out of my career and it was within my grasp, but if I missed, I would at the very least have to start thinking about plan B.
My views on how to prepare for interviews have changed (self-study, interactive, coaching), but at the time I felt like I was doing everything possible. I built up my resume and cover letters, dove into the technical questions and started meeting up with a group of friends to mock interview each other. Finally, I started hearing back from the banks. I had 4 chances at my dream job: Genuity, Scotia, BMO and National.
First up was Genuity. They had a reputation for giving very technical interviews, so my anxiety level was high. The interview was in the afternoon, so I decided to spend the morning in the finance lab at Rotman fine-tuning my stock pitch, when something unbelievable happened. A Rotman commerce student had just walked out of the exact interview I was preparing for and started telling his friend about the interview in extreme detail. Frantically, I started writing down everything he said; there was a row of computers separating us, so I was out of sight, but could hear perfectly. Warning! Don’t discuss your interviews in public people!
After about 30 minutes of intensive eavesdropping, I got to work. Some of the questions I had answers for, others needed a little TLC and some I had never even heard of before. I spent the last couple of hours cramming to make sure I could answer the questions perfectly.
Finally, it was time. The interview was on campus in an old basement classroom that was not quite as bright as it should have been. It did turn out to be very technical, but thankfully, many of the questions I had overhead in the lab came up word for word, so I was prepared. I left thinking that I had had an ok performance. Despite that, I would never hear from Genuity again.
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