Q&A: Former MBB Consultant

Hi everyone, doing Q&A for the first time. Happy to answer questions on prepping for casing or the overall interview and application process. Hope I can be helpful.

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Hi there,

Best strategy during networking - some of this may sound cliche but I really think it works.

Figure out what excites you about consulting. Your excitement will really come through in conversations, so don't underestimate how important this can be.

Listen to stories and build your own story. The more conversations you have and the more you learn about the experiences of consultants, the more it will help you figure out what about consulting makes you excited. This can help you be much more concrete in your own story, when you're sharing why you want to be a consultant. You can say, 'I spoke with person X and they were on this project focusing on Y and they learned Z. This is exactly the type of experience I want to have so I can learn Z and have this type of impact." You can of course phrase it however you'd like, but hopefully this paints the picture.

Interviewing: Do's: Practice a lot and be prepared. There is no substitute for this. Be personable instead of robotic when working through the case. Remember, it's client service. Bring in your own experiences, whether it's something you've worked on in the past, or even something you've read about. You don't have to go out of your way to do this.

Don't: Freak out if you make one small math mistake. This is unlikely to be the make it / break it. There is much more to a case interview. It's also a lot about how you recover from the mistake and whether / how you can address the mistake and keep going to solve the problem. Try to fit every case into a cookie-cutter framework. Practice enough to where you can get comfortable with many versions of frameworks. Ideally you get comfortable enough to where you can adapt frameworks you have learned to the specific case or problem at hand.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

I'm sorry that it's been a challenging start. Don't worry, I've had interviews that didn't go so well too. It happens, but you can bounce back and it can still work out.

General networking suggestion: Ask about the consultant's experience. People are generally happy to share and talk about their experience at different firms. Try to use what you learn to be able to tell the story of what gets you excited about consulting. What about all the stories you've heard is exciting to you and what would you like to experience or learn yourself? The more stories you have to reflect on, the more concrete you can be in your own storytelling and the more relatable it will be.

General suggestions on interview prep: My thought is, there is no over prep. Prep a lot and work hard. More tactically, here are some suggestions: Strategy and Case book: there are a lot of case books out there, and different ones can be helpful for different people. Some of this is trial and error. But, what's most important, is that you find a case book that helps you learn the strategy and approach to tackling a case. It's like studying for the SAT or GMAT. At the end of the day, there are many test prep companies and many ways to tackle the test. It really matters which one you resonate with. So try to figure this out as soon as you can.

Practice: once you learn the basic dance of the case, and you have your strategy and approach, it's important to know what materials to use to practice and how to practice. For materials, there are a lot of good PDF's online from MBA programs / business schools. For example, you can simply type in name of the business school and "Case Book: and you'll find many PDF's online. These will usually be older versions, but the cases are still good! These tend to have great practice cases, and if you get multiple books, you can easily find hundreds of practice cases you can work on.

Self practice vs. live case. My opinion is you have to do both. If you play a sport or chess or any instrument, you know that there are competitions or performances where you're performing and testing/showing your skill, and then there is practice. Practice is usually much more focused on strengths you're trying to build further or weaknesses you're trying to overcome. Casing is similar. Find time to 'perform' and do live cases with someone. But also figure out what you need to work on, and find time by yourself or with drills that can help you work on these things. E.g., if you need to get better at calculating percentages, doing practice percentage math drills is far more effective than doing 10 more cases. But at the end of the day, you have to do both.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Really good question. I'm actually thinking about hosting another Q&A specifically on banking vs. consulting so stay tuned. In the meantime here are some quick thoughts:

Reason I switched: I wanted to learn more about strategic decision making from the inside of a company. I also wanted to understand the inner workings and operations of a company. For that, consulting is the way to go.

General comparison based on skills/training, lifestyle and exit options:

Skills/Training: Banking: A slightly narrower but more focused skill set: quantitative and modeling focused. By the end of it, you'll be an expert at valuation and typical models like M&A, LBO, and capital raises. Consulting: Broader skillset. By the end of it, you'll get very good at structuring an ambiguous business problem, identifying a path to solve it, figuring out data and information needed for analysis and then executing analyses to get the job done. Also will help you figure out how to draw up an implementation or execution plan.

For banking, think making deals. For consulting, think strategic decision making and execution. Both are highly valuable. I think having both is great!

Lifestyle: Banking is notorious for longer hours and having more of a 'facetime' culture where you have to be in the office and show face. Like many analysts, I've seen the all nighter in banking, but not in consulting. But, it didn't happen often and it was during a very important deal phase. Consulting tends to now have the rep of a high flying lifestyle (although who knows in this new world). You get to travel all over, experience different cities, rack up points for personal travel etc. The hours are arguably better as lifestyle is actually part of team conversations. But, that being said, it can still be 70+ hours a week depending on the project, especially in your early days when you're still working on getting more efficient at the job).

Exit options: It used to be that banking was the sure path to Private Equity. It isn't the case any more. Depending on the PE shop, both bankers and junior consultants can exit into PE. Generally speaking banking experience can make you more competitive for jobs that require deal diligence and deal process as well as modeling. While consulting experience could make you competitive in these areas (if you do diligence projects or finance focused projects), but consulting can also open you up to other strategy and operation focused roles. Consulting arguably offers broader exit options, while banking can make you more competitive for a narrower more focused set of options.

I'd say, both are going to be great training for the first part of your career. Not to sound cliche, but talk to people and see which one gets you more excited. Go with that as it will likely make you happier and lead to better performance and options.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Good question. It's a mix, I would say.

It is true that consulting firms are expanding their line of work. They are shifting from being purely strategy focused to expanding their offerings: Operations, Implementation, Specific solutions (e.g., design or digital marketing).

In my opinion it is driven by multiple factors: some of it is client driven as clients have pushed consulting firms to help implement solutions that they are suggesting. Some of it is also driven by consulting firms as it allows them to offer more solutions and stay more closely connected to clients for longer projects.

I can't get into too much detail on the projects I've done for confidentiality reasons. But I can say that I've done both strategy and implementation projects. Generally speaking, as one gets more tenured in consulting, there seems to be more flexibility in choosing the type of work you do and specialize in. So if you prefer one type over another, you can definitely focus in over time.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 
Most Helpful

During an MBB interview I had while trying to lateral from IB to Consulting, my last interview was with a partner and before I even introduced myself, I was asked what school I went to. I responded my non target school name and the partner proceeded to take out his phone, text someone, say "thanks" and left the room. I was left standing in front a white board with my solution for about 5 minutes, until someone walked in and thanked me for coming. I was then asked to leave and before I was even a block away I got a call saying I did not get the offer. I know this was a bad experience but is there a general hatred/disdain for non targets at MBB?

 

Hi there,

In all fairness, I didn't have to network completely virtually, but we are all now living in somewhat of a virtual world, so I'll give my best thoughts based on the experience here.

While 15-minute phone calls are great, we can't underestimate the power of good emails. Great thank you notes, that touch on points of the conversation that you found helpful go a long way. Additionally, quick check-in notes every 2-4 weeks that give the consultant a quick update on your application process or any recent accomplishments are also very helpful and a great way to keep the conversation going without having to necessarily jump on another call or ask for more time.

It's also about the mindset. In my experience, consulting has a mentorship model and mindset. So if a consultant is taking the time to connect and you have a good conversation, it can be worthwhile to essentially bring them on your journey as you navigate your application process. These updates could really help the consultant keep up and feel invested in your process and your success.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Good question. There are a few paths to this I'd recommend. I'll comment based on my knowledge of each Firm (note I recruited with all three and had multiple offers, so know something about each).

Bain: Has a strong PE Group (PEG). I'd start networking with folks on LinkedIn or WSO who are current Bain folks or alumni and leverage those connections to talk to people who have worked in PEG. Main thing is to learn about specific experiences and be able to communicate why you'd like to have those experiences or why you're interested in that type of work.

McKinsey and BCG: Also have strong PE and diligence focus. Each has pathways for experienced professionals like joining a specific practice (e.g, Sales and Marketing or Private Equity Diligence, or Implementation). Similar approach as above, connect with current consultants or alumni and figure out which practice areas make most sense given your interests. Then focus your networking there.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have more questions.

 

Thanks! Very helpful. What would you say is the most important aspect to highlight both when networking as well as when speaking with recruiters to better the overall chances of getting an interview & earning the role? Given some of my experience overlaps, but for the majority of things I have been doing, there is not much overlap. Also, from my understanding, coming in at the level around post-MBA as an experienced hiring, your focus is more general instead of just the PE/DD ring fence. Is there anything I can highlight that would show a more well-rounded/relevant experience?

 

Hi there,

It may be challenging but it's doable. Here is what I think:

Have very strong and concrete reasons as to why NYC. If you just want to be there to hang out and check out a new city, I don't think it's going to be that compelling. Are there specific personal or professional experiences that draw you to NYC? Is there a personal reason like family or significant other which are draws to NYC? It's important to really convey the concrete reasons why NYC over a local office in the UK.

Build a network with NYC consultants. Reach out over phone, video call, whatever means makes sense and tell your story to consultants in NYC. Ask them to connect you with others in the office. Build a network and do your best to make sure several people in the office know your story and your reasons for wanting to be there.

Bring them on your journey. Send quick email updates every 2-4 weeks. It can be as simple as "Thanks for putting me in touch with X person. I connected with them this week and had a great conversation and learned more about Y. They have also put me in touch with Z person in the office as well and I'm working on connecting with them over the course of the next week." Of course, phrase it in your own words but hopefully you get the picture. Bringing consultants along with you on the journey helps them keep up with you and helps you stay connected.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

This one is tough to say. A lot of things are moving right now. Generally speaking there are a few trends I've observed in the consulting industry:

More specialization. Firms are becoming more specialized. There are more experts and more niche consultants than before. If you look at the professionals of profiles and even some of the acquisitions that have been made over the last few years, this trend starts to show.

More offerings and longer term projects: There are more project types and more solution types than before in the consulting industry. For example firms are now getting into the implementation and design spaces where they are actually helping companies design physical products etc.

With respect to down turns and current corporate budgets, it's tough to say. What we can speculate is that consulting firms are helpful to large co's during this time when it comes to cost cutting and restructuring projects. There is also opportunity for firms to help companies think about the post down-turn strategy.

I know this doesn't give a specific answer as to what may happen. But that's very difficult to preduct.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Generally speaking 3-5 people is great! I'll caveat this by saying, if it's a small firm and a small office (of let's say only 10 people in that office) then you may have a harder time even finding 5 people to connect with. But again, this can vary based on situation.

For your case prep question, I'm going to paste something from an earlier post since I think it's pretty comprehensive:

General suggestions on interview prep: My thought is, there is no over prep. Prep a lot and work hard. More tactically, here are some suggestions: Strategy and Case book: there are a lot of case books out there, and different ones can be helpful for different people. Some of this is trial and error. But, what's most important, is that you find a case book that helps you learn the strategy and approach to tackling a case. It's like studying for the SAT or GMAT. At the end of the day, there are many test prep companies and many ways to tackle the test. It really matters which one you resonate with. So try to figure this out as soon as you can.

Practice: once you learn the basic dance of the case, and you have your strategy and approach, it's important to know what materials to use to practice and how to practice. For materials, there are a lot of good PDF's online from MBA programs / business schools. For example, you can simply type in name of the business school and "Case Book: and you'll find many PDF's online. These will usually be older versions, but the cases are still good! These tend to have great practice cases, and if you get multiple books, you can easily find hundreds of practice cases you can work on.

Self practice vs. live case. My opinion is you have to do both. If you play a sport or chess or any instrument, you know that there are competitions or performances where you're performing and testing/showing your skill, and then there is practice. Practice is usually much more focused on strengths you're trying to build further or weaknesses you're trying to overcome. Casing is similar. Find time to 'perform' and do live cases with someone. But also figure out what you need to work on, and find time by yourself or with drills that can help you work on these things. E.g., if you need to get better at calculating percentages, doing practice percentage math drills is far more effective than doing 10 more cases. But at the end of the day, you have to do both.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Here is what I would consider doing given your description:

GPA and accomplishments: If you have a strong GPA or other accomplishments in school (student athlete / tournament wins or titles, winning debate competitions, a major leadership position where you've accomplished something impactful or really anything else that is a notable accomplishment) I would highlight that on the resume and cover letter (if the firm wants one of these). You can also highlight this in your networking conversations. If you're in an honors program or accelerated class program (some universities offer this) or if you have a scholarship that's competitive, these are all things you can mention and have on your resume. Bottom line, it's about showcasing the impactful things you've done and are doing no matter where you go to school or where you've worked. As far as GPA goes, work really hard on this if you still have time.

SAT or GMAT or other: If you have a strong SAT or ACT score, this can go a long way as well. If you don't have a strong SAT / ACT score or a strong GPA and if you feel the work you do on your GPA still won't get you fully there, then consider taking a graduate school test. Yes, consider taking the GMAT or LSAT or GRE or MCAT depending on whichever grad school you think you may wan tto attend (if at all). If you can nail this test and be in the top 5 or 10 percentile of scores (depending on the test), this can also help one really stand out from a resume perspective. And if you're planning on going to grad school some day anyway, may as get the test done since they are good for multiple years (GMAT is good for 5 years I believe).

Networking: I would really spend time learning about the experiences of consultants and working on your story of how / why you think you would be a good consultant and why you would enjoy it. Think about the experiences and skills you do have and how they can be applied (quantitative and analytical skills, logic and problem solving, leadership and influencing direction with facts and analysis, project planning and executing. These are examples of skills that are very useful in consulting work.

End of the day, it's very possible if one works at it.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Good and challenging questions. I'll do my best here:

  1. Influencing people and teams toward decision and action with facts and analyses. Building strong trusting relationships. Very important if you want to be effective in a client setting. Being a team player. You may not always have the most glamorous spot on the team, but every role matters and every person can help or hurt the team. So, which one will you be? Managing high pressure situations. Consulting can be hard work and high pressure, sometimes when you're most tired or sleep deprived and jet lagged. It's important to be willing and able to manage high pressure situations.

  2. This is tough to say. There are talented people at all firms and it's hard to really speak to a difference without having much data or having at least worked at multiple firms.

  3. Great question. There are so many ways of thinking about this. The simplest way I can think about this the two big trade-offs: How much do you value your free time vs. how much do you wan to make. This sounds simple, but let's think about two scenarios to make it a bit more concrete. Scenario 1: You focus on WLB. You make $X and you work 45 hours per week. You have time to work out, travel, go to weekday happy hours, and maybe even weeknight dates. You're probably sleeping about 7 to 8 hours per night.

Scenario 2: You work 70 hours per week, travel Monday-Thursday and make $1.5X (I'm just making this number up). You don't really have time during the week to see friends or go on dates. You may get the chance to work out 1x during the weekdays, realistically, and optimistically maybe 2 times. With all this, you're probably sleeping about 6 hours per night on weeknights. If you want to work out more or see friends, you may sleep 5 hours per night on that particular week night. But, with the extra money you make, if you end up saving it, you could get compounding returns over many years. Assuming a 7.5% annualized return (compounded), you pretty much double your money every 10 years (assuming no interim trading and taxes due).

So the big questions are: 1. If you make more, will you actually save? Or will you spend it and get utility out of whatever you're spending it on? 2. If you have more time instead, will you actually use it for useful things and things you enjoy? Or will you appreciate having that time vs. having 2X your savings in 10 years? 3. How long do you plan on having a challenging work life balance? Even if you do it for 2 years, the amount you save could arguably continue to grow over decades. So you don't have to do it for 10 years or even 5. But you can if you want to of course. 4. How much do you value money or need money for your lifestyle or your long-term goals? Not everyone values it the same way.

Aside from all of this, there is also the general question of career progression. So it's not just the immediate dollars you make in those 2 or 3 years of consulting or another job. It's about what types of jobs or career paths that experience opens up. This is a whole different discussion, but something to factor in.

One other caveat to this is: if you know what you want to do and let's say it's working at company Z. It could be worthwhile to just go do that and do it for 5, 7, 10 years. It's possible to set yourself up for great career progression within that one company if you're there for many years and some of the above listed tradeoffs may matter less.

Finally, I have to put down a disclaimer that I'm not a retirement, tax or financial planning professional or expert. These are simply some of the ways I've thought about evaluating this type of decision in hindsight.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

I left MBB after two years because there was something else that was exciting that I wanted to try. Will refrain from current work details to maintain anonymity if that's alright.

What I can say about the decision to leave, is there are a series of questions that are worth asking: Personal preference questions: Do you really enjoy the work? How curious are you about other roles or industry? What makes you curious? What experience do you hope to gain from leaving that you're not getting currently? If you can be concrete with this, then it can really help answer the question of whether it makes sense to leave.

Pragmatist questions/considerations: What sort of return policy does your firm have? Some firms allow you to come back to the firm within 3-5 years and sponsor you for graduate school during that time as well. If you have these options then the risk is lower to try something else. The main risk is taking time away from the accelerated growth path you may have at one of these firms. Also note that if you take sponsorship from a firm, doesn't mean you are necessarily bound for good. My understanding is that you can buy out your debt obligation, or essentially pay the firm back for your grad school to remove the obligation to return. I've also had friends who have had their obligations bought out by other firms in other industries. So if you end up going to bschool lets say and you find another job with another company that really wants you to start right away, they may be willing to buy out your 2-year return obligation to an MBB by paying off your bschool.

One other thing to consider is trade-offs and alternatives. Some industries are much easier to transition to pre-MBA after your first 2-3 years of consulting. PE is one example in my opinion. If you think you may want to try PE, it may be worth giving it a shot now and getting that experience earlier rather than later. I'm not a PE expert so may be worth looking into this further.

At the end of the day, it's about the personal preference of whether you are really wanting to try something else while you're early in your career and comparing this with the pragmatic trade-offs of optionality to return to a firm and whether you can/want to take sponsorship for grad school.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Good question. My sense on what makes a successful summer experience is demonstrating a few core attributes/skills and also getting to learn about why the particular firm may be a good fit for you.

Demonstrating core attributes / skills: 1. Coachability: you don't have to know everything day one, it's definitely not the expectation. However, I think it is important to show that you're coachable and are willing to receive feedback and learn / grow from it. Consulting is generally an apprenticeship model where you learn from coaching and guidance you receive from your teammates and team leadership. So, this core skill of being able to take feedback and act on it in a constructive way is very important.

  1. Proactiveness: Don't just bring me a problem, spend some time and think through some potential solutions. Even if the solutions you come up with aren't ultimately the ones that are the path forward, it's important in my opinion to demonstrate this willingness to problem solve and ability to think of potential solutions. At the end of the day, Consultants are there to solve client problems, not simply communicate what the problems are to teams and team leadership.

  2. Ownership: This goes hand in hand with the first two, but this is about taking responsibility and full ownership of a task that's handed to you. There is an expectation that if you're asked to help with a part of a project, you own that piece of the project. That means it's up to you to push that piece of the project forward. Now you may not be able to solve the problem alone (and that's certainly not the expectation), and likely you'll need help from experts or others in your firm or the client organization. But, it's about making sure you're pulling in the right people, asking the questions and finding a way to push toward an answer / solution.

  3. Energy and excitement for the work: Whether it's your day-to-day attitude or the excitement you convey, this can go a long way. Consulting is hard work and I think firms ultimately want to know whether you really want to be there. The Summer internship is a great time to convey this and show your excitement for the role.

Getting to know the consulting firm and the people. Outside of the core attributes and skills mentioned above, the summer is also a great time to really get to know the people at the consulting firm and in your specific office or region. Friday's are great days for this. Even now with mostly remote work, I imagine people are willing to do quick 15 minute video calls to connect and talk about their experience in the office. This is a great way to not only ensure that this is the right fit for you, but also build a strong community in your office, something you're excited to return to full-time.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any questions.

 

Hi there,

All good questions. Here are some thoughts:

  1. If you're in graduate school, full-time recruiting comes and goes very quickly. So it's good that you're taking the time during the summer to network and reach out. For undergrads, I imagine it's similar. Each firm handles recruiting a little differently. Some have more junior consultants (Associates and Analysts) more heavily involved in recruiting, whereas other firms have more senior folks involved. You'll get a sense of this pretty quickly, but main thing is to focus your networking efforts on people that are involved in recruiting because they are the most likely to be knowledgeable about the process and specific questions you have, and they are more likely to know who to put you in touch with for additional questions or things you may want to learn about.

  2. Generally speaking, if you get connected to a senior person through an event or a consultant, then it's definitely good to build that relationship. However, it's not necessary to know a senior person at all firms in my opinion (point above about different firms handle recruiting in their own ways and senior folks are not always involved in the early stages). So bottom line here is, if most of the people you encounter in the recruiting process are more junior consultants, I don't think it's anything to sweat about. It's likely that this is the way the particular firm approaches their early stage recruiting.

  3. I would say it's more helpful to get to know the people in the office you're interested in. Most firms make interview invite and offer decisions at the office or regional level. So it's good from this standpoint to get to know at least a few folks in the office of preference and even better if they remember and know your story well. It's also helpful from a personal standpoint, where it will probably help you be more excited if you have good relationships with specific individuals who will be colleagues and part of your work community.

  4. It depends on the relationship you've built with a particular person. If you have had a few conversations with them and you feel they are a supporter, then I think it makes sense to ask. Aside from this, I think there are plenty of upper classmates or even classmates in school who have successfully secured offers at consulting firms and can be very helpful with case prep. I highly recommend reaching out to upper classmates and classmates for help.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Will do my best to offer some thoughts here:

  1. There is a lot of speculation that some offices are easier to recruit than others etc. At the end of the day, I imagine this is so variable that it's not worth predicting or playing around. In my experience, interview invite and offer decisions are made at the office and regional level. But a lot depends on the given year, the target hiring headcount, number and quality of candidates that are applying / how competitive that region is in that particular year. As you can imagine, there may be some consistency year over year among regions, but a lot of these variable shift as well, making it difficult to predict. I would say, it's best to select the office you're excited about based on where you want to live and the type of work you're excited about doing. Having genuine reasons to be in a location or office go a long way. I also imagine, firms and recruiters can sniff out those that are not as genuine in their desire to be in a certain office or location and that could be detrimental.

  2. I don't know as much about international recruiting. The good news is that in the early stages of recruiting, you can ask these questions to a recruiter and frame it as you're deciding on the right location for you long term so you want to learn more. I think early in the recruiting process, it's completely fine to get general information about recruiting in different regions. By mid-way through the recruiting cycle, I would say it's good to focus in on a region and office and make sure that the recruiter and recruiting reps know that you've committed to the office or region and your reasons for doing so. Bottom line, a lot of candidates are evaluating office options and making decisions early in the process. I don't think this will be frowned upon. But, if you're still pretty scattered by late recruiting cycle, I think it could pose a challenge.

  3. I know that some firms offer internships post sophomore year. It's really a matter of asking the firms and also mentioning that you're open to the possibility of doing two summers at the firm (sophomore and junior year) and committing full time if the offer exists. I don't know this for sure, but I imagine the big challenge or risk for firms in bringing on sophomore talent is that there is flight risk. After the sophomore summer, if the candidate leverages that summer experience to get a different internship junior year and decides to not return to the consulting firm full-time, then this is not a great turnout for the consulting firm. So, I imagine if you can show your commitment and excitement for the firm and your willingness to return should the offer be there, then I think this could open up the possibility of an internship post sophomore year.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

 

Hi there,

Great that you're thinking ahead and being proactive about this.

  1. What I wish I knew starting out: Every firm has a slightly different optimal approach or set of approaches to navigating it. For example, some firms really value generalists, while others really value and reward those that have built up a track-record in a particular industry. Knowing this can help one navigate the firm in the best way, while also considering trade-offs (e.g., if you want to stay a generalist for longer, the trade-offs may be different at one firm vs. another). How does staffing truly work? Some firms don't give you much say in your first 6 months to 1 year. And it's not something to lose sleep over. If they are telling you where to go, all you can do is make the best of the situation. Other firms, give you more flexibility or influence over what you're focusing on in the first 6 months to 1 year. Here, I think, networking and expressing interest in particular areas to leadership in those areas can go a long way. Note, that even if you do all the networking right, some of the game is about timing. For example, a project can sometimes have a delayed start because the client requested it or for some other reason. If this happens, you may have to take a different project and try again when you're up for staffing next go around.

  2. What to prioritize when choosing cases. If you're at a firm where you don't have much of a choice, then this is moot. However, if you do have some flexibility, I would say in your first 6 months, people matter the most. Consulting is an apprenticeship model and the best way to learn is to learn from good people that are willing to invest in you. I would say that if you find good people that you think will invest in you and show you the ropes, then in the first 6 months that's what matters, more so than industry or specific project area. Once you know the ropes and have a few reps under your belt, I think it makes sense to start thinking about your personal interests and long term goals and to try and align your projects with those.

  3. Building a good reputation: I wrote a post about how to have a successful internship experience. I'm going to paste it here as I think a lot of this is relevant to building a good reputation as an early tenure consultant: Demonstrating core attributes / skills:

  4. Coachability: you don't have to know everything day one, it's definitely not the expectation. However, I think it is important to show that you're coachable and are willing to receive feedback and learn / grow from it. Consulting is generally an apprenticeship model where you learn from coaching and guidance you receive from your teammates and team leadership. So, this core skill of being able to take feedback and act on it in a constructive way is very important.

Proactiveness: Don't just bring me a problem, spend some time and think through some potential solutions. Even if the solutions you come up with aren't ultimately the ones that are the path forward, it's important in my opinion to demonstrate this willingness to problem solve and ability to think of potential solutions. At the end of the day, Consultants are there to solve client problems, not simply communicate what the problems are to teams and team leadership. Ownership: This goes hand in hand with the first two, but this is about taking responsibility and full ownership of a task that's handed to you. There is an expectation that if you're asked to help with a part of a project, you own that piece of the project. That means it's up to you to push that piece of the project forward. Now you may not be able to solve the problem alone (and that's certainly not the expectation), and likely you'll need help from experts or others in your firm or the client organization. But, it's about making sure you're pulling in the right people, asking the questions and finding a way to push toward an answer / solution. Energy and excitement for the work: Whether it's your day-to-day attitude or the excitement you convey, this can go a long way. Consulting is hard work and I think firms ultimately want to know whether you really want to be there. The Summer internship is a great time to convey this and show your excitement for the role. Getting to know the consulting firm and the people. Outside of the core attributes and skills mentioned above, the summer is also a great time to really get to know the people at the consulting firm and in your specific office or region. Friday's are great days for this. Even now with mostly remote work, I imagine people are willing to do quick 15 minute video calls to connect and talk about their experience in the office. This is a great way to not only ensure that this is the right fit for you, but also build a strong community in your office, something you're excited to return to full-time.

To your last question: if you're really in a bind, I would start by reaching out to 1-2 people you trust (hopefully second year consultants or those that have a bit more experience at your firm and are invested in your success). Get some quick thoughts about handing the situation with them. You can also then get direct help from your project manager. And if it's a team specific issue and you need outside of team help, there are resources at each firm like staffing managers or development managers that can help you navigate. In either case, I think starting with your trusted support network is the best bet as each situation can have a lot of nuances.

Let me konw if this is helpful and if you have any other questions.

Career Advancement Opportunities

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