October 19, 2000

Viewer Discretion Advised

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Throughout my childhood I always wanted to be a Zulu warrior. That was to be my chosen profession and I gladly would have worn a tie to work, despite the hot African heat, the lack of health benefits, and the absence of a salary just to be a member of the tribe. Back before college, it didn’t matter to me that there was a rigid hierarchy in which upward mobility was impossible and downward mobility meant being slaughtered and sacrificed to any number of Zulu gods, but let’s be honest. Nowadays, none of the Big 5 Zulu firms recruit at Cornell, and judging from the list of the participants at the recent career fairs, one can safely assume that the only available occupations in the work force deal with finance and consulting.

This being the case, I convinced an unsuspecting firm that I was a senior finance major, just back from a long scholastic break during which I reengineered the entire fiscal spectrum of auditing and investing for the WWF’s new “Spank me I’ve been naughty” adult television campaign. Telling them I was in need of an interview, they brought me to an interviewer. It went a little something like this:

INTERVIEWER: I am a Cornell graduate, and I want to give you a job. What experience have you had with finance?

ME: I’ve seen Boiler Room on DVD, which also included the alternative ending, and I really like Legends of the Fall, with Brad Pitt.

INTERVIEWER: Excellent [he says as he proceeds to itch his crotch and sniff the tips of his fingers]. What can you tell me about numbers?

ME: Seven is a Brad Pitt DVD that includes deleted scenes, and alternative endings. The Scream (agh!) Trilogy is a 4 disc set, and this week’s release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 is packaged as a 3 disc set.

INTERVIEWER: I have a lot of fuzz in my belly button … What do you think?

ME: Personally, I would discount the future cash flows from your assets by the appropriate rate of return and then examine any remaining lump sums and find its present value, then shower.

INTERVIEWER: Toy Story is coming out on DVD?

ME: It includes behind-the-scenes footage, music videos, storyboards, unused footage, trailers, and interviews with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.

INTERVIEWER: Listen, I have to be honest with you, I got this job when I was a junior and convinced this company I was a senior. The guy who interviewed me had the same thing happen to him. The whole company is actually composed of Cornell juniors who have no desire to do finance. We actually watch a lot of movies.

Still believing I was a Senior, my interviewer escorted me to the door and offered me the job just the same. I didn’t take the job, but I felt compelled to write about my experience because of the lesson I learned, “It is better to do something you like, than to do finance.” And I hear that Zulu firms recruit at IC anyway.

Archived article by Bradley Werner