Saturday, September 13, 2008


I've been through the motions of the infamous placement procedure in an Indian B-School, for the internship - which is a farce in more than 90% of the cases. Most companies come to campuses to either trap prospective employees by giving them a PPO etc. and a few come to outsource work which they deem unworthy of their employees (a case in point: one of the world’s largest software companies). Anyway, yours truly had a fairly unmemorable internship placement routine what with no companies wanting to shortlist a mechanical engineer who hasn’t taken Investment Banking as an elective and I took up the first one which came my way. But that opened the gates to another psychologically draining experience called tanking.

tank -
1. a large receptacle, container, or structure for holding a liquid or gas: tanks for storing oil.
2. Military. an armored, self-propelled combat vehicle, armed with cannon and machine guns and moving on a caterpillar tread
3. go in the tank, Boxing Slang. to go through the motions of a match but deliberately lose because of an illicit prearrangement or fix; throw a fight.

In the interest of all those who had not been placed, the others were to go in to an interview and convince the panel that the best candidates were the others. Early morning, on the D-Day, the first company was an Ing-Bank, a rarity nowadays, given the way Lehmann is sinking and threatening to take Merrill along. The fact that I am the first candidate makes the work doubly troublesome, as I can’t fuck up badly, which would damage the whole process. So in I go, and speak for half an hour, weaving stories about my life, the city of Mumbai, the Indian Power Sector, NTPC: the guy is visibly impressed till I drop the bomb: Sir, I want to work in a ‘proper’ company, learn the ropes in corporate finance and then join an I- Bank. The guy’s face shrank a few inches... But he was cordial and all and wished me well (I was sure he must be cursing my intelligence or the lack of it thereof under his breath)… but nevertheless

Next in line was a young consulting company, who wanted to meet me, despite the fact that my name was not in the shortlist. And in there I met one of the most enlightened souls, who knew about my previous work experience and he grilled me on the whole thing… actually which was a piece of cake. And then the same stuff about Mumbai and what you’ve been doing (heavens! If I knew that, what would I be doing in this muck?)… till it was time to drop the bomb… The guy asks me: so where would you like to join us? (gawd… did I really speak that long?) and then I go into a drawl… why I would like to join a bank and learn finance before joining consulting blah blah and more blah…

There were a few more over the course of the day, and then came the GD, in a world famous indemnity company. There was me, Amu and ambiga seated next to one other, and a few more guys: to push 4 out of 12 into the interview. The topic was “will twenty-20 replace one day cricket?” ; another reason for hating the shorter format of the game. In the end, it was the most focused GD that could be seen on earth, with each one of us (the tankers) avoiding eye contact with the rest of the world, speaking the same thing time and again, and overacting, (remember the scene in Munnabhai when Sunil Dutt comes visiting his son in the hospital?).

Opening Statement: One day cricket didn’t replace Test cricket and same will be the case with T20. I repeat the same three more times in the GD. The panelist asked me to summarize: Kerry Packer couldn’t end Test cricket and neither will Lalit Modi. It’s a different issue that I don’t care a hair what happens to Modi or his sycophantic tranche.

So drained I was by the whole thing that I refused to participate the next day, for two more I banks who wanted to see me… to hell with them, there’s only so much I can lie.

(This writer’s block is racking my nerves for a few months now and hence the dullness)

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