Fenno: Interview season


Things couldn’t get much worse for the underdog, thought Fenno. Fenno reflected with horror that Harvard Law students choosing names for intramural sports teams forgo the opportunity to adopt cool mascots like “Law Dawgz,” “Section I Warriors,” and the as-yet-unused “Nerds on Film” to mock a certain RECORD “Opinion” regular and predict his defeat in the Ames Moot Court finals. Last week’s edition showed that relegating Fenno to the back page rendered him a Cassandra, leaving Mr. “Washington-bound Mickey” to ignore the negative lesson Cliff Ginn learned two weeks ago about what students don’t want to read in their free time. Instead, our unwitting Iphigenia forged ahead with yet another case comment masquerading as an editorial. Sure, there were some pretty hip references to The Lion King and Bush v. Gore along the way, but c’mon, even Chief Justice Rehnquist knows the Supremes are a ’60s girl group, not a court.

Reading such pedantry disguised as flights of dreamscape made Fenno’s spine tingle with flashbacks from Single White Female. A violently asthmatic wheeze outside his window interrupted Fenno’s chilling musings over the Law School rag. He looked down onto Mass. Ave. A white dwarf with an Afro was standing on the sidewalk, chanting the words of and holding a sign that read, “I’m So Smart and I’m So Funny. I’ll Tell Volokh If You Take My Milk Money.” He was wearing the same color bathrobe and slippers as Fenno. Fenno opened the window and leaned out to get a closer look.

“I’ll trade you a rookie Justice Breyer for a 1990 First Circuit David Souter!” called a voice over Fenno’s head. Fenno looked up to see Jared Kramer holding a shoebox two floors above. But before the terry-cloth hobbit on the street could say “You’re on, sucker!” he winced miserably and grabbed his knee just as the mild popping report of an air gun pierced the sound of traffic. Fenno followed the wounded gnome’s frizzy hair as it bobbed across the street. Someone was guffawing out of a window to Fenno’s right.

“Gee whiz, Lowell. You ruined a perfectly good exchange of associate justice cards. You owe me a Happy Meal!” Jared shouted down. “You probably don’t even have a permit for that BB gun.”

“Nerds!” bellowed Plotkin, beating a chest covered by a white t-shirt several sizes too small. Finding his neck caught between the window and ledge, he repeated this witty rebuttal to Jared’s complaint until Nikki came with a screwdriver to remove the window frame. Again.

Beginning to feel like a guest in a twisted version of Hollywood Squares, Fenno shook his head and closed the window against the October wind. It was time to get ready for his afternoon on-campus interviews. He looked in the mirror as he tied a red tie. “Harvard Law is corporate greed. Greed is good.”

Fenno had been preparing over the weekend by listening to Adam White’s Personal Interview Inspirations, available on tape through Lexis Law Publishing. “I am a corporate warrior. In spite of the glaring lack of opportunity to take Mergers & Acquisitions of Quasi-Multinational Real Estate Investment Trusts, I will still smite the poor and step on the throats of the disenfranchised. They will cry out to Alexa Shabecoff as I drink their blood. But all in vain.” Fenno popped in his fangs, put on his suit jacket, and marched out the door. That James guy in my Bankruptcy class, the one without a last name, he sure would be proud, Fenno thought.

“On-campus interviews” apparently means “off-campus interviews,” particularly when it starts to pour. Fenno wasn’t feeling so all-powerful when he arrived at the Charles half an hour later looking like a drowned rat with dress shoes shrink-wrapped to his feet. He shuffled to the elevator. Up on the ninth floor, Fenno squished by a reception area. John Doulamis was inside drinking mineral water and chatting with some recruiting people. Fenno popped his head in the door. “John, are you interviewing with Dewey Ballantine today?” Fenno asked.

“No. Not really,” John answered. “Actually, I don’t have any interviews today at all. But I came down anyway so I wouldn’t lose the schmooze vibe before flyout week.” He lowered his voice to a barely audible whisper: “I think I’m in the zone.”

Fenno arrived at the door of his interview. He knocked, heard an invitation to enter, and walked in. He blacked out.

When he came to, Fenno could hardly breathe. The air was thick, and he couldn’t see very well out of one eye. He was in a strange room with furniture that smelled too new, sitting across from a woman he’d never seen before. His one good eye told him she was dressed like Geraldine Ferraro. He had a cramp in his leg, and he was pretty sure something in his nose was not coloring entirely inside the lines. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. The woman in the vice presidential candidate’s outfit looked at a piece of paper she held in front of her and began speaking German. Fenno didn’t speak German, but he remembered claiming to somewhere, maybe even in writing. He nodded, smiled, and grunted agreeably. The woman slid a piece of graph paper across the table. On it was an intricately drawn maze. At the start arrow was a stick figure in a dunce cap. At the finish was a drawing of a treasure chest with €7B written across it. Geraldine took out the stopwatch from Chariots of Fire: “Starten zu!” she barked.

Twenty-five minutes later, Fenno emerged back onto the hallway. His ego had broken ribs, and he was still uncomfortably damp. Should’ve known better than to think I could ride out the poor job market in the Austrian business consulting industry, he thought. Why anyone would ever need differential calculus to “fertilize seeds of innovation within a stagnating managerial lateral hierarchy” was beyond him. And who’d ever heard of a number 1.67 pencil anyway?

Fenno was snapped out of this pathetic reverie by a vaguely familiar voice. He looked up to see Dean Sauer leaning casually against the wall. “Hey Fenno,” Dean repeated. “You interviewing at Kraus, Flugelhorn und Schtumper too?”

“I tried to,” Fenno replied. Dean was clutching something tightly in his hand. “Whatcha got there?” Fenno asked.

“Oh, this? Just two number 1.67 pencils. The OCS interview site said we should bring them. I ordered mine online from a Norwegian specialty pencil store last month.”

Fenno felt like he might be sick. “Hey, cheer up, Fenno. Here, take this. It’ll make you feel better.” Dean took Fenno’s wrist and placed something in his hand. Fenno looked down. It was a limited edition 1L Greg Lipper card, with complete statistics broken down by Socratic cold calls, volunteered answers, and Spontaneous Outbursts Nobody Needed to Hear (SONNH). Fenno felt much better indeed.

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