Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Learning my limitations

My job is pretty unique. It's a little like private equity, a little like a hedge fund and a little bit of je-ne-sais-quoi. My job involved a lot of je-ne-sais-quoi (aka other stuff) yesterday.

My boss funds a program at a Israeli university, and each year, the kids make a trip to the US to learn about American business and (for a lucky few) to interview for an opportunity to do an internship at one of our portfolio companies. My colleague who usually handles the program was out of town, so I was asked to fill in. I spent the morning interviewing candidates - learning about their stints in the Israeli army (always fascinating) and their schoolwork and class projects. In the evening, we host a dinner for all 20 of the students. I attended that as well.

It started fine.
I arrived at around the same time as my boss. The program director met us right away in the room and the three of us chatted for a couple minutes. Then, one student got the nerve to interrupt us and thank my boss for his involvement in their program. Then a few more arrived. Soon, he was surrounded by most of the 20 students in attendance. (Well, most except the two who decided to corner me and ask how they could work for me eventhough (1) my company doesn't hire interns from this program and (2) these two weren't among the group chosen to be interviewed.) The students hung on my boss's every word until he announced that he needed to leave. Like moths to a flame, soon all 20 students decided that I was the most important person in the room and found their way to me. If I had been overwhelmed by the two kids pitching their qualifications to me initially, I was at an entirely different level (superwhelmed?) for the rest of the evening:

"How long have you worked in your current job?"
"Where did you work before?"
"What do you do on a day-to-day basis?"

"Do you speak Hebrew?"
"If you had $200 million, what would you do with your life?"
"Do you travel a lot?"

"What is the most interesting project you've worked on?"
"Do you live near here?"

"I want to work in private equity. What do you recommend I focus on once I graduate?"
"I founded a fruit distributor - do you have a need for someone with my passion and drive?"
"I founded an IT consulting firm when I was 17. Do you have any idea what you are missing if you don't hire me?"

"What are your long term goals?"
"Would you like to come to Dave & Buster's with us after dinner?"

That last answer was "no." Instead I went home and was asleep before I hit the pillow. This morning my head was still spinning...

Remind me never to be a scandal-ridden politician/pro-athlete, or a rockstar/actress, or a billionaire. I just don't think I'm cut out for all the attention.

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