There are some experiences in one’s college life that change you for the better, make you stronger and equip you for the real world beyond the gates of a college campus. One such experience is the summer placements process at B-Schools. The process is ruthless and spares no one in its path. However, if one happens to be one of those on campus aiming for a consulting summers, the storm hits you far earlier and harder! Being lucky enough to belong to a campus where MBBA visits, the last few months has sure been a whirlwind of mixed emotions. Having weathered the storm and emerging victorious, here are a few takeaways from my journey to all those aspiring consultants out there!
Self-introspect, ask yourself, is consulting for me?
The MBB tag is possibly the most hyped thing on B-School campuses. From the day you put your little toe into B-School, all that one hears is about the number of people who got into consulting, got PPOs, missed out on PPOs, the spikes that one needs on one’s CV, the ‘9-9-9’ myth and what not! Pause, take a minute and don’t get carried away by the crowd. Ask yourself the cliched question ‘Why consulting?’ and only if you have a heartfelt reason, go down the consulting path. Because at the end of the day consulting is not just about fat pay-cheques and exotic locations but is also long hours and living out of airports!
Don’t get disheartened by shortlists!
Shortlists come fast and furious, elevating the spirits of some while disheartening many others. One thing I have taken back from this period is the number of shortlists one gets doesn’t matter, but it’s your mental state of mind and case prep that count at the end of the day. I have seen many friends who had a single consult shortlist and converted it due to sheer hard work.
Eat, breathe and live cases!
Those 40 odd days between the time of the first shortlist to your final interview truly test you mentally and physically. Missing classes for case prep slots with alumni, sitting through mandatory company presentations while making mental structures in your head around a guesstimate, staying up till the wee hours of the morning doing mock cases in your case groups; these are the days that will define your confidence and capability on Day Z. Just a word of caution here, one can never reach perfection, irrespective of the number of cases one does or the breadth of industries one covers. However, what one can achieve is becoming a ‘MECE Bhakt’ and an ardent believer in the structured school of thought, a life lesson that will go a long way. Also, everyone has their unique success mantra, find yours, have confidence in it and you will crack any case that comes your way!
Put your best foot forward, ALWAYS!
Unlike other domains, where cracking the interview or the GD is sufficient, consulting is far more multi-faceted. The weekly buddy calls, the innumerable interactions with representatives from each firm, the ‘non-evaluative’ dinners (not meant for DCP, but a respite from mess food!) and just living under a microscope for a month is all part of the consulting juggernaut! Trust me, even though these events may take a toll on your daily routine/case practice, they give you an actual peek into the life of a consultant. The first-hand experiences I heard from alumni working at the top consulting firms, the conversations I had with my buddies who became a true support system as Day Z approached, the insights gained during dinners with from Partners from these firms, truly excited me as well as gave me a flavour of how people-centric the consulting industry is.
Breathe, relax and smile!
As Day Z approaches, you will be bogged down by opinions from all quarters- advising you on which firm to rank higher in your priority list, which firms have the best growth opportunities, the best culture, the best prestige, the best projects and what not! As the so-called hotlist calls arrive, there will be panic, madness and rising stress levels! Stay calm and focused and introspect as to which firm you see yourself the best fit for. This is where all the interactions with people from the firms over the past month actually help! Once done, move on to your HR and CV prep in the last few days before your D-Day.
On D-Day, always be calm, cool and composed with a smile on your face. Remember that the interviewer is looking for a candidate he can present to a client, a candidate he can have an easy conversation with at the end of a 14-hour long workday, and most importantly, a candidate who brings his own unique perspective to the case at hand. While luck plays a huge factor and innumerable other external factors may not be controllable, what you can control is your demeanour on D-Day, and that can win you interviews!