Interviews Bookend Spring Break

As interview season for May graduates started in earnest at the beginning of March, I anticipated that my spring break would be impacted. As it turned out, I was right. On March 2nd, I was invited to interview with The Home Depot (THD) at their headquarters in Atlanta right before Spring Break. Later, on March 8th, I was invited to interview with PricewaterhouseCoopers, also in Atlanta during Spring Break.

In the days leading up to The Home Depot office visit, my fellow classmates and I figured out who would be going, what our schedules were like, and decided on groups for carpooling. I rode with two fellow classmates. The one with the most fuel-efficient car ended up driving because like The Home Depot says, “More saving. More doing.”

We left for Atlanta mid-afternoon on Wednesday, March 10th. Along the way, we made a few stops and arrived at our hotel at about 8:30pm local time. We got settled, met back up for dinner, and then prepped individually for our interviews. We met in the lobby the next morning and departed for corporate headquarters just down the street.

After we signed in, we were led to a large conference room where several hiring managers and HR representatives were waiting to greet us. We began by eating breakfast and mingling with THD representatives. We were given a presentation on The Home Depot as a company as well as the scope and scale of the IT operations for a top 5 world’s largest retailer. At the end of the presentation, we were paired with hiring managers for the first of three interviews for that day. Each hiring manager escorted an interview candidate to his or her office for what felt like an hour-long conversation, rather than a stuffy, high-pressure interview. At the end of our interview rounds, everyone met back up for lunch. HR representatives gave us an overview of the next steps. We got a quick tour of the corporate facilities, said our goodbyes, and parted ways.

While on the way back to Tuscaloosa, we talked about our impressions of The Home Depot Company, the people, the facilities, and the possibilities. We were also very excited because the ride home marked the beginning of Spring Break for all of us!

During the time between my two interviews, I did a little bit of relaxing and preparation for my visit to PwC. I booked my hotel reservation, read up on PwC, got my suit dry-cleaned, and had a little bit of fun with some friends. A fellow classmate, who was also interviewing with PwC, made arrangements to travel with me.
I left Tuscaloosa on Thursday, Atlanta bound again. Fortunately, I beat most of the afternoon traffic and got to The Four Seasons hotel shortly before 4:00pm. I got to my room, showered, and changed for a scheduled 6:45 dinner with PwC management. A PwC HR representative met all the interview candidates for the Atlanta office in the lobby and walked us to the Oceannaire Seafood Room restaurant. Each table consisted of candidates along with PwC representatives. While we shared a delicious meal, we had good conversations about the roles for which we were applying. At about 9:30pm, we broke apart, and went back to our hotel to prepare for our office visit in the morning.

The next morning, each candidate met his or her host for the office visit. Our host was someone who had been with the company for one or two years and would be a peer at PwC. I met my host and reconnected with a couple of UA MIS alums I had met before their respective graduations.
Once arriving at the office, the agenda was almost identical to The Home Depot experience. We began the morning by eating breakfast with our hosts and hiring managers. Next, a partner in the Atlanta office brought in three additional PwC representatives for a quick Q&A panel discussion. Afterwards, each candidate went through three interviews with managers and senior managers. Similarly to my experience at THD, each interview felt like a conversation. During the interviews, our hosts kept us on schedule and escorted us from interview to interview. While escorting us, the hosts gave us background information on each manager and set our expectations for each interview.

After our third interview, our hosts took us out to lunch for some more Q&A. I was seated with my host, a Capstone PM, and his host. We had a great time talking about the MIS program because our hosts had graduated from UGA and FSU. I described my experience from the undergraduate perspective, while the PM gave his graduate perspective. We keyed off each other to give a really great promotion of our program. Our hosts were blown away and wished their programs offered similar experiences. It made me proud to be an MIS student at The University of Alabama!

After lunch, our hosts gave us quick office tours. Next, we received a final presentation about what the next steps would be if we receive and accept offers. Finally, we said our final goodbyes to our hosts and went back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage and vehicles for the journey home.

While returning to Tuscaloosa, I took some time to reflect on my interview experiences of the past week, remembering my conversations with both THD and PwC employees. I received multiple affirmations from both companies that our program produces rock stars ready to excel in the professional world. I then reflected on UA’s entire MIS curriculum and could see how each and every experience in the program grooms us for success. It begins in MIS 295 when D. Hale starts preparing us for using solution development methodologies and preparing us for AIMS meetings. The AIMS meetings help us build our confidence when we ask good, hard hitting questions, and get one-on-one face time with alums, hiring managers, and corporate recruiters. Resume reviews help us polish our resume and cast our experiences in a light that showcase our ability to add value to business. The junior level courses give us a solid foundation for becoming a solution provider, while the Capstone Experience ties it all together and drives home the importance of teamwork. Additionally, mock interviews with faculty, professional development guidance from the PMs, the MIS forum, and our peers give us the final boost we need to succeed!

When I got about halfway home, my phone rang, The Home Depot was calling. I received an offer! It was the perfect way to end spring break. I will hear from PwC within two weeks, and I hope I have a very difficult decision ahead of me!

Written by: Ryan Langford, Capstone Student

The University of Alabama MIS program allows students to work on real projects that provide real value to real companies. Students learn to leverage people, processes and technology to solve problems and meet the challenges of today’s businesses head-on. For more information, call 205-348-5525 or visit http://cba.ua.edu/mis.

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