Last night I had a Horrible NIGHTMARE. I do not typically dream, remember my dreams, or share them with others and generally rail against such things on principal– so thanks in advance for your indulgence in this regard.
In the nightmare, I found myself in the very plush offices of (get this) Wormwood Ltd., an investment bank where I had applied for (sweet mercy!) one of a handful of seats in the incoming corporate finance analyst class of 2009, due to begin training in June. Reception escorted me to a classroom where a tall, muscular woman, rather Germanic of feature and poured into a thankfully sturdy looking charcoal tweed skirt suit, was administering a ‘personality test’ to a group of approximately 25 prospective analysts. Like me, these prospects had successfully navigated several rounds of grueling interviews – at this stage of the hiring process, the remaining candidates were fully vetted. Final selection would come down to margins of suitability that earlier on would have been rounding errors. The anxiety level among the candidates was palpable –we were all on high alert for signs of weakness in our competitors, or any variety of blood in the water. The test itself resembled a chain restaurant menu (full-color high-gloss double-sided) and was oddly subjective – sections included dance-ability of popular music, ranking meals in order of deliciousness, etc. The tester singled me out with concerns regarding my test taking method. I had left the ‘deliciousness’ section, chronologically the first section of the test, until last. She was concerned that I might be an abstract, circular thinker, and indicated Wormwood’s preference for linear types. After testing, the class broke for lunch, and I flooded into the warm spring afternoon en masse with the other candidates. I spied into one of my interviewers, a managing director of one of the industry groups, among the wrought iron tables in the Wormwood piazza, and proceeded to regale the poor guy (who was just trying to eat his sandwich) with an impassioned discourse on my unique suitability for a position in Wormwood’s analyst class because I had “done it all before, still knew all the analyses backwards and forwards”, and “had absolutely no ego problems stepping into an analyst role again” because, above all else, I was “looking for a solid cultural fit and growth opportunity”. I think I was just about to spit shine the man’s shoes when, thank goodness, I woke up.
This dream was so vivid, right down to the Wormwood offices –from the modern art on the walls, blonde marble floors, wood molding so wide it was over halfway to wainscoting, to the personal details of the principals, the fabric of the suits, gorgeous glossy shoes, the tiny pink horseshoes on the rose silk Hermes necktie of the managing director, and the creamy thick stock Wormwood business cards which bore raised type and a hand-embossed logo of a massive gnarled tree. It was all so real that I must confess to still being a bit shaken up and, frankly, mortified at my obsequious behavior. Given my tenuous employ and the limited opportunities in the financial sector at large, what I would do if a real life “Wormwood opportunity” presented itself. Clearly my subconscious is in anxiety-ridden Freudian overdrive (Wormwood? seriously now . . .), but is my situation truly so dire that I would position myself to toady against 22 year-old Ivys for the opportunity to once again crank out pitchbooks at 3 a.m.?