OK, so maybe Denzel Washington wasn’t the right choice for the Oscars, but there’s no denying he’s a talented actor. This movie is realistic (relatively speaking, compared to other Hollywood films), involving and intelligent. It’s a little derivative and formulaic, but I didn’t really care – I just let myself get sucked right into the thick of it. The only real thing I can criticise this movie for is for casting an overly negative light on doctors as being money hungry. Insurance companies, perhaps. However, doctors have one of the toughest jobs in society today, and they aren’t paid that well, in light of what they do (and add to this the cost of litigation and the insurance premiums they pay to prevent this). It is interesting that Australia is currently going through a medical insurance crisis, but on the other side of the fence.
Oh yeah, and John Q is guaranteed to make your girlfriend cry :). Recommended.
Very atmospheric, very poignant film which mixed up ground zero action with the slower, ponderous scenes quite effectively. The only thing is that the context of battles is jumbled – you see the titles flash up like “The River Bed” and “The Knoll”, without any idea of how the troops are moving and thus without a true appreciation of how the commanding officer strategises (a short overhead shot of the battlefield would’ve done the trick). A few cuts above Mel Gibson’s last big budget war flick, The Patriot. Recommended.
Mindless action flick with some surprisingly amusing one-liners thrown up by that horse thief guy. Hey, what do you expect from a film who’s protagonist’s name is The Rock?
Pretty decent adaptation of the novel, up until Jeremy Irons appears on stage as the mind-reading force-using Morlock. The CGI time-lapse scenes were absolutely gorgeous. Once again, however, setting a date merely 30 years in the future as when mankind has the ability to fracture the moon is a little near by! Movie writers have a habit of casting future dates too close to the present.
This has been an incredibly tough season for finding a job. Industry in general is still in a slump, despite an upturn in business. As a result, the numbers of graduates companies are willing to take on is but a fraction of the levels they were during the dot com boom time of 98/99. I filled out job application forms or sent in my resume to about 15 companies in strategy consulting, IT consulting, IT positions in financial services and IT companies. As of today, I’ve spoken my way through 16 interviews.
The whole process is incredibly draining. Firstly, the masses of application forms are bad enough to fill in. Online forms are the worst, especially the ones with about a hundred open-ended “name a situation where you have displayed teamwork/leadership/initiative etc.” type questions. Then there’s the resume, cover letter and academic transcript (at $10 per transcript, the uni is virtually running a mint). For some online forms you have to retype your resume done in Word as text, which is a major pain. In the end, I got truly sick of filling out form after form and just stopped.
Secondly, there’s the interview phase. Getting called up for the first few are encouraging. But then you realise that your schedule is starting to pile up with them. I have been going to interviews more often than work in the past three weeks. The interviews are 30-60 minutes on average. They really tax the brain as you attempt to construct a coherent, insightful answer, all while trying to sound sincere. With experience, it starts to become second nature though, and again, eventually you get sick of answering the same (slightly reworded) questions and get lazy. At this stage, it’s also pretty clear to the interviewer whether you have any real interest in the job. It’s been a few weeks of hoping that the last missed mobile phone call wasn’t from graduate recruitment, or that you come home to an empty letterbox (snail mail correspondence is reserved for rejections), or that the public transport system doesn’t collapse because that would make you late to the interview.
The majority of the population, when they hear “management consulting company”, immediately think “PwC”, “Deloitte” and the other big names of the big 5 (or is that big 4 and a half now?). Unfortunately, that would be a misconception, for there is a band of companies pitched above those that make up the select group of “pure” strategic consultancies. The largest three, collectively known as M/B/B, are incredible companies to work for.
Competition for these companies is murderous. They hire from literally any discipline – engineering, law, med, commerce, science – and applicants are generally the pick of the crop of their fields. If you apply for these companies and get turned down as many are, it is all too easy to become discouraged or disillusioned with the job search process I have witnessed some extremely talented people getting turned down for these companies. Realise however, that this year McKinsey, Poynton and Booz each hired a mere two grads out of thousands of applicants (and the other firms also hiring in the single digits). The number of grad positions open across the entire strategic consulting industry is less than the intake of PwC Consulting. Three years ago, the positions available would have been around triple what they are today.
I applied to these companies not expecting anything out of it, apart from experience. I received outright application rejections for all but two firms. One of them I have already bowed out of the interview process. I made it through to the second round of interviews for the remaining firm (16 people going for 3 positions), but was again unsuccessful.
All consulting firms hold case interviews, which are different from the ordinary behavioural based ones. Case interviews consist of a business case you work through with the interviewer – the aim of which is to see how well you can analyse a problem and structure a response. Questions I got ranged from things like, “How many tires are there in the world?” and “What is the market size for staple guns in the US?” to longer problems such as exploring market growth for a timber manufacturer and doing a market assessment and comparison between quarries and concrete suppliers. I actually prefer cases to behaviourals, but they are tougher to do, and it is all too easy to be unlucky and receive a tough case you just aren’t in the right mindset to solve.
It also seems that these firms are quite wary of IT grads. A friend who made it to the Bain interviews commented that he was the sole IT person there amongst a sea of combined Law degrees. Again, 3 years ago, things would have been quite different. (McKinsey actually used to be a sponsor for BIT!)
Strategic consulting companies held their recruitment period a month before all the other industries. Application deadlines for IT Consultancies were set roughly at the time most strategy consultancies were handing out offers. Only three consultancies were recruiting this year: PwC Consulting (25 grads), Deloitte Consulting (up to 60 grads) and Accenture (about 20 grads). All the consulting companies have now splintered off their parent accounting ones after Andersen disintegrated, so they are effectively all separate entities.
PwCC: These guys will be undergoing a rebranding some time later this year, once they figure out what their new name is going to be. My degree (BIT) is part of a co-operative program with PwC as a sponsor, so we all got “special treatment” in terms of fast tracking the interview process. For us, they hold everything on one day aptitude tests and interviews with a buffet lunch thrown in. I was asked, “What do you think of the situation in Zimbabwe?” which has to be one of the more unusual questions I’ve recevied. Offers will be extended in about 3-4 weeks. Their training course in Tampa, Florida sounds quite appealing.
Accenture: No special treatment with them, although they too are a program sponsor. Three rounds of interviews. Got rejected after the first round, which is highly perplexing, to say the least.
A few friends have been receiving interview offers by KPMG via SMS. That’s just cheap.
I also applied for IBM, Aspect, Macquarie Bank, and UBS Warburg (IT divisions). Waiting to hear from Aspect. Currently in the pipeline for IBM and Macquarie. Was unsuccessful for UBS.
I have an interview on Wednesday, but the recruitment season is starting to wind down. Things should all be over by the month’s end.
That was a longer time away from posting than I originally thought I would take. Everything’s just been so incredibly busy! I’ve had the ever increasing urge to post, but haven’t found a lull in activity (and corresponding burst of energy needed) up until now. The great majority of my time has been spent with recruitment related activities, interspersed with spurts of uni and thesis research on top of work. I’m going to over my recruiting experiences, but first, something else.
We got an aquarium in the apartment. It’s got no fish, only a crab and two yabbies. The first remark most people make about this is, “Crustaceans and no fish? How boring!” … only to spend the next half hour staring fascinated into the glass tank.
Why this is so relies on the nature of the beasts. Of the two yabbies, one is an absolute bully. He’ll attack others without provocation. As a result of constantly muscling away food from the others, he moulted first (shed his shell to grow bigger) and is practically doubled in size overnight. He looks like a tank compared to the others. He’s also ripped off one of the other yabby’s pincers. The crab keeps mainly to herself, only striking out in self-defence when any of the other two get too close. The little yabby is copping a beating, and more often than not, the big one will chase the him around. The little one will retreat backwards, only to back into the crab who will give him a nip in the butt. A yabby’s quick retreat mechanism is its tail flick. By using this, it can catapult itself halfway across the tank in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, when the little one flicks its tail after getting pinched by the crab, it normally ends up catapulting forward, straight into the arms of the big yabby, who lashes out with its own pincers. Tail flick again, but this time, backwards. Into the crab. The result is something like a game of tennis.
The big fights, however, are between the crab and the big yabby. The resemblance to a boxing match is uncanny they’ll take swipes at each other, getting closer and closer, until their claws are entangled. Without a referee to yell out “break!” however, both critters are free to try and bite off each other’s ears. Well, that’s if they had visible ears they don’t, but eyes work just as well. Incidentally, the scientific name for yabbies is cheerax destructor. They’ve lasted over three weeks now without killing each other. You can call it sadistic, but we call it natural selection. And it’s a lot more interesting than watching goldfish with 30 second memories swim around bumping into the glass.
Update: Big bully has ripped off the second pincer of the second yabby, so Dave moved him out into his gf’s aquarium. The carnage continued unabated, however, and the crab lost two of its legs in the battles that ensued. She too has been moved into a second aquarium Dave bought today.