On Monday, January 7, 2013, at approximately 4pm, I return home, sit down, and crack open a Coors Light, smiling at the blue “Super Cold” bar near the bottom of the can. The first day of Mod 3 classes is done, and I have to admit, it feels really good to be back at work, though today it somehow feels different. Not long after my first sip of cold Rocky Mountain magic, my roommate enters with a new, but soon-to-be common request: “Hey bro, you have a minute to take a look at this cover letter? My application for this internship is due tomorrow.”
“Sure man…email it to me and I’ll send you some feedback.”
“Thanks. You’re so lucky you don’t have to worry about this shit anymore.”
Somehow, I’m a trusted source of cover letter advice these days.
Now why, when recruiting season is just beginning to amp up, am I drinking Monday afternoon beers instead of sweating over internships? Let’s Tarantino this thing and go all the way back to the beginning to find out…
My name is Jayson Hanky, and I entered Owen as one of the boldest of the 180° career switchers. In my previous life I was a teacher and administrator at a small private school in Charleston, SC. I was the Assistant Athletic Director, After-School Coordinator, Summer Program Director, P.E. Teacher, and Basketball Coach. I certainly had enough on my plate. Only problem was, none of that previous experience translates in the business world…or so I thought.
Upon taking advantage of the many opportunities to learn about the various career paths for which Owen pledged to prepare me, I decided to focus on HOP: Human Organization and Performance. The HOP program, ranked #4 in the country, offered engaging, interesting subject matter that felt natural to me. It also definitely helped that three of the first four alumni I met currently working as consultants work in the Human Capital field…as someone also interested in consulting, this was the best of both worlds.
In addition, HOP was the concentration that recruits the earliest – October and November, mainly. If I go through recruiting for HOP and don’t like it or don’t find an internship, I thought, I would still have plenty of time to ramp up my efforts in different subject areas to prepare for Spring recruiting. Foolproof!
Recruiting began for HR and Human Capital Consulting Internships in early October. After approximately two months of b-school, it goes without saying that I felt unprepared. Fortunately, the Career Management Center works tirelessly to offer us the best opportunities to practice and prepare. Through resume and writing workshops, mock interviews, and recruiting workshops, my classmates and I gradually became acclimated with the idea of “tooting our own horns” without sounding arrogant. By the time interviews began, my resume read like it was describing a completely different person, and I felt confident in my own story, even if I did already despise the term “elevator pitch.”
To say recruiting started with a bang would be an understatement. Countless hours in library meeting rooms doing group work, interview prep, and submitting resumes and cover letters had HOP students exhausted. Add to that a Wednesday (yes, Wednesday) wedding in Charleston, SC, and this is what you get:
It may look bad, but you should see that countertop. Fortunately I didn’t have to be back the next day for a presentation or anything. Oh, wait…
Yep, that’s just after giving a presentation in class, and about 14 hours after smashing my head on a countertop at a post-reception after-party in Charleston (and about 5 minutes before jumping back on the horse at Thursday Kegs). The combination of exhaustion, travel, dancing, and…that’s it…just exhaustion, travel, and dancing, made for quite the adventure.
Not long after, interviews began. With 5 interviews in the first 3 days, it was a great opportunity to impress some great companies and learn from their feedback. I was convinced that I’d get at least one offer. I was certain that these recruiters would see potential in my abilities. After my first seven interviews, I hadn’t just failed to receive an offer – I hadn’t been invited to a second round interview.
I’m a competitive person. I played sports my entire life and won championships at every level, from little league through college. I won championships as a coach. I won the opportunity to attend one of the best business schools in America. And now I was being repeatedly beaten. I had never been on a 7-game losing streak in my life, and I didn’t know how to respond. After hours of visiting with Sandy Kinnett in the CMC, talking to classmates, and, perhaps most importantly, trusted 2nd-year students, I decided my approach to interviewing needed a complete overhaul. I revamped my resume for what felt like the 100th time. I rewrote my (ugh) elevator pitch, and I decided that despite what I had been repeatedly told, being a teacher before b-school DID put me at an initial disadvantage. It wasn’t insurmountable, but it definitely made it more difficult to translate my experience into a desired skill set sought by big employers. I simply had to find a way to use that experience to confidently express a set of desirable skills.
Finally, a breakthrough. I kept my story clear, concise, and compelling, and I spoke with a confidence that I didn’t truly have – I just knew I had nothing to lose since my previous approach hadn’t worked yet. The phone call offering a final-round fly-out was truly a liberating feeling, the metaphorical “monkey off my back.” Flying out to San Francisco to interview with McKesson Corporation was a great experience. Upon meeting the other candidates, my confidence grew. Not because I knew I was better than them, but because I knew Owen had done a better job preparing me. I nailed the interview, and got the offer. The first person I told: Sandy Kinnett, my CMC coach who had helped me so much through the entire process. The next person: Anne Marie Mills, a 2nd-year mentor who had done the same. I accepted the offer a few weeks later.
It was definitely one hell of a bumpy ride…literally. It took many hours of practice, research, scrapping the whole thing and starting over again, and bandaging the wound on my forehead. I went from no confidence in my knowledge or experience to a formidable interviewee that could navigate any challenge with finely tuned acumen. And I have Owen, the CMC, and the 2nd-year class to thank for it.
That, my friends, is the story of how a P.E. teacher with no business background went from working at a school with 215 students to working for one of the largest healthcare companies in the world (36,000+ employees, #14 on the Fortune list), and it’s why instead of losing sleep about interviews I’m currently on my second Super Cold.