My summer internship recruiting journey has come to an end. After months of coffee chats, office visits, presentations and case interview preparation, putting pen to paper and signing an offer letter was a surreal experience. This cycle can be brutal. Having survived, I hope to give some insights on how to do it.
The weeks immediately following the end of winter break were among the most hectic that I have ever experienced. Once employers released interview decisions, it was a full-blown sprint to the finish line. The case interview is the weapon of choice for many management consulting firms. Interviewers ask you to assess a client’s business problem by developing a structured framework, analysing different data sets and coming up with a final recommendation on the course of action. This is meant to assess candidates on the skills they would be called upon on the job: critical thinking, analytical skills and clarity and poise under pressure.
What this means for aspiring consultants is that your schedule becomes overwhelmed with practice cases for one month leading up to your interviews. You study cases with your fellow first-year classmates, grill second-years who interned with the firms you are interested in and practice with actual consultants at their offices. All the while, your first interview date looms.
Once it arrives, it is a complete whirlwind to the finish line. I had four first-round interviews and three final-round interviews in six days. Each employer had me assess two cases or more. They also sprinkled in the traditional behavioural interview questions. It is fast, furious and then it is over.
This description may leave you asking why would anyone put themselves through it? For me it comes down to three main reasons:
- Breadth of industry experiences. What is sacrificed in terms of depth (you are typically only with a client for a few months at a time) is certainly made up for with an incredible breadth of experiences. In your first year as a consultant, you can take a growth strategy project in consumer packaged goods and follow that with an operations project in financial services – and each few months you can rotate to a new experience if you so desire
- Impact of work. Companies typically bring in consultants to help with some of their largest, most pressing problems. As such, the work that you do has an enormous impact on the client and can potentially transform the way they do business. You can often find yourself working with and giving recommendations to a senior executive very early on in your career
- Exit opportunities. Consulting is typically a career accelerator; a way to explore your interests across industries and determine where you would like to land within a particular industry after you have satisfied your curiosity. As such, consulting firms are very supportive when the time comes for you to transition and make many resources available to help you during the process. It is a win/win
I am incredibly excited about the summer ahead of me. I will stay in the area and experience the proverbial Chicago summer. I will work for a top consulting firm that I greatly respect and also meet the rest of the intern class, which will expand my network to business schools beyond Kellogg.
Now comes the time to transition back to being a normal student, with projects and midterms staring me directly in the face. Coming out of the grind that is recruiting, however, I almost look forward to studying for exams. Almost.
Follow me on Twitter @MerihOcbazghi
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