The Top Ten Late Night – I mean BCG – List: a handful of our Year 1 and Year 2 Consultants from across the US took a minute to reflect on their experience as a First Year MBA diving right into recruiting. They were quick to remember the fast learning curve necessary to navigate the events, the outreach, and how to find balance in a chaotic time!
We asked them what were the top tips and tricks that they wish someone had shared with them before embarking upon October, and the weeks to follow…and here’s what they had to say:
Spend time reflecting on your past experiences and where you want to go in the future before recruiting starts. Reflect on your authentic self and what you want your career to look like in the long run and focus your energy toward recruiting exclusively in that area.
You don't need to know exactly what you want to do. That is part of the business school journey - discovering new careers and opportunities! But put in the time up front so you know your options.
Think about your semester, your priorities, and your recruiting goals before diving into events, coffee chats, and networking. Put in the time up front to research industries, firms, functions, etc and figure out what you want to explore and why, then you can focus your energy and manage time effectively.
Prepare, but don’t overdo it! Whether for coffee chats or case interviews, over-preparation will only make you sound robotic and insincere.
There will be a lot going on, and time is your most precious resource. Sketch out early the industries, firms, and roles that really interest you, and decide for yourself how you can most efficiently learn about those and gain clarity. This will be an evolving sketch, but will help you learn how to divide your time.
Also, you can never be too organized in keeping track of your recruitment activities (coffee chats, events, people, calls, follow-up notes). An Excel sheet does wonders to make sure you stay on top of everything (or is that just a consultant’s perspective…)
There's no award for perfect attendance! Prioritize the events where you think you'll get the most value vs. checking every possible box (coffee chats, cocktail hours, lunch & learns, etc.). Attend the events that feel most pertinent to your job search – it is not about the quantity, rather making the most of each event you attend.
Meet as many people as possible throughout the recruiting process and really dive deep into those conversations – every experience is different, and more perspectives will help you understand how you can craft your own path.
Take the time to think of meaningful questions to ask consultants that you actually want answered, rather than re-using stock questions just to check the box. You’re better off focusing in on a few genuine, in-depth conversations, rather than trying to meet every person in the room. Consultants would love to talk about something more personal and the more out-of-the-box questions – you get to know them better, and they you.
Find the jobs/firms/people that genuinely spark your curiosity in conversation, that will be the best indicator for where may be a good fit for you. Finding a place where you fit in with the people and the culture will both give you a better chance for success in recruiting and also increase your likelihood of enjoying the job once you get there.
Be yourself. In conversations, in interviews, and – most importantly – all the rest of the time. Finding the 'right fit' starts with just being yourself: You're recruiting to work with a group of people, and understanding how your values align is just (if not more) important to your future happiness.
The firms want to meet the real you, someone they could be working alongside every day. The stress can get to you if you’re not careful. Shake off that feeling, and get to know these firms by putting your best foot forward. Don’t try to play the role of a person you think we would to hire. Be yourself. That is who we are interested in!
Lean on your peers who have worked at the companies you’re interested in, they’ll be more than happy to help or give you the real-deal insight. You can also learn a lot about different careers and companies by talking to your classmates about what they did pre-MBA.
Use these classmates (including Second Years) to help you through the process as they just went through it!
You should get to know, and apply, to the office where you want to work and live. That is in your best interest as well as the firm’s best interest. You have the best chance of getting a job in the office you truly want to be at!
The networking part of recruiting can be crazy and exhausting (in combination with settling in at school in the fall), so don’t forget to check-in with yourself, prioritize self-care, and take a break if you need it. Do things to keep perspective.
Whether making time to talk to family, exercise, or just do something outside the MBA bubble on a regular basis…it’s helpful to remember there is a world outside recruiting. It will help your performance and mindset in the long-term.
Enjoy the networking events as much as possible! It's a chance to be yourself and meet some interesting people. Don't be worried about getting as many business cards as possible, or covering the most ground. Relax and learn whether consulting is a fit for your next career step.
These conversations and interactions are a true test on not only the industry, but also the people, the fit. Are these people you can see yourself working with? Do these problems they’re talking about interest you? That’s a great sign!
And this is a bonus one...
If you are feeling psyched-out by hearing your classmates talk about recruiting (how many cases they’ve done, which events they’re getting invited to, etc.), dismiss yourself and try to avoid those situations. Everyone feels insecure at some point (even the people who act uber-confident). Each person’s path is different – pave your own and don’t compare it to others.
Don’t let the destination get in the way of your journey.