Sunday, December 25, 2011

Get a head start on coffee chats and informational visits before summer internship recruiting starts...

Merry Christmas all!

If you're reading this, it means that you're committed to landing that summer internship at Goldman, Morgan, UBS, McKinsey, BCG, or another great firm.

Summer internship recruiting starts in about a month's time.  However, do NOT leave your applications for the day before.

The cover letters and resumes that stand to get a first round interview reflect strong personal reasons for wanting to work at firm X in position Y.

Which begs the question: How do you convince someone who doesn't know you that you are not only highly qualified for the position, but that you are also the one they should hire?

One tried and true way of communicating your interest is by setting up coffee chats and informational visits with the firms that you want to apply to.  Do these at least a week before your application is due!

You'll likely get a tour of the company, a brief overview of what a full time analyst/consultant does, and have at least 15 minutes to ask questions about whether this is the right company/role for you.  It really doesn't get better than that...if you are an awful match, you'll know that too, so you can save yourself the time of writing an application to a job you don't really want.

So how do you set these up?

1.  Look at linkedin for alums from your college/high school who work at those firms.  First target junior to mid-junior people.  Don't bother the MDs unless you have an existing personal connection (a good friend's parents)

2.  Write a very succinct (no more than 4 sentence) email that describes who you are, any group that you were both a part of, and an open question of whether he'd have time to briefly talk to you about applying?

3.  Expect to hear from 1 in 5 people (or even less...)  Analysts and Associates are busy.  Some are more willing to offer help than others.  Once you get a response, reply saying thanks and being very specific about when you are free to talk (give them lots of options).  Also, if you live close to where they work, offer to do it in person at the Starbucks  across the street, for example.

4.  Study the website and talk to your classmates/juniors/seniors who just worked there.  Ask your friends how they did well and what they did to form a positive impression.

5.  Have the coffee chat / info visit -- dress up, be professional, have a resume in hand, have at least 5 good questions to ask that you can't get answered elsewhere (The worst is to have boring questions like "what does a good analyst have to do.." that you can get answered from forums)

6. Follow up with a thank you note and mentioning that you'll be applying and hope to cross paths soon.

And that's it!!  Get started sending emails this week and the first week of the new year.  That will build in some time for you to get ready before school starts.

Best of luck and feel free to reach out with questions.  Happy holidays to all our readers!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A success story

We worked with a talented individual who was trying to land a full time position at an investment bank, without having worked in finance in his previous summers. The candidate faced several obstacles:
  • no personal connections
  • no finance experience of any kind before recruiting
  • no connections through school
We helped the candidate craft a strong resume and stellar story--which were instrumental to helping this candidate land many first round interviews. Yet with no advancement to final rounds, and full time recruiting ending, the candidate did not have an offer in hand.

Continue reading to see how this candidate started the resume process early, remained level-headed, and pursued unconventional methods to overcome the odds.

Your critiquing team started the entire investment banking recruiting process for me last summer, and I would not have been able to achieve this without your service. Thank you so much for your help.

It has been quite the journey and one hell of an experience. I screwed up the few front-office interviews I did manage to get…things were looking very bleak. I was very pissed off and disappointed at myself after October went by without an offer. If I learned anything from my failures, it is to always hustle and to stay humble. I definitely lost sight of that and took many opportunities for granted. I decided to take some time off to reevaluate and didn’t try to recruit again seriously until early March.

This time around, I stepped up my networking game and began meeting random strangers in investment banking. If there was an email on the firm website, I’d send an email. If I saw someone interesting on LinkedIn, I’d add him. If I couldn’t get them to meet in person, I would try to get them on the phone. Probably ended up speaking with at least 20 professionals.

The position I landed all started through a cold-email to an MD and things just evolved from there. Three weeks later, I was signed.

This was an incredibly well-deserved accomplishment. Congratulations!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Questions on MBB office changes

1. What exit opportunities do you get if you are coming from a smaller office, not in NY or SF?
This answer depends on the office that you are in. If you are in Chicago or Boston, you may have similar overlap in terms of your experiences with those who come fro NY/SF. This is due to the fact that the nature of work in Chicago / Boston / other mid-large sized cities is on larger, Fortune 500 corporations. If you are coming from McKinsey Stamford, Detroit or Pittsburgh, you certainly won't have the types of exit ops someone from Chicago / Boston / NY / SF people would.

2. How easy is it to switch offices once you start your job full time?
At one of the MBB, I've seen at least 5 coworkers do it near the first year mark. The wwitch depends on how strong a performer you are and second what your reason is (e.g. personal, near family, etc. that stuff is weighed more heavily than just "I want to try a different city")

3. Can you switch offices after being sponsored for business school?
Yes. However, keep in mind, though you are not obligated to go back, you may be encouraged to. There are some plus sides to being in a smaller office: you know more people in the office, if you are a true stand out you could get promoted earlier, etc. As a generalization, the people in NY/SF can be a notch higher, so the competition is less at places like McK Pittsburgh, etc.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Standing out through your cover letter

For consulting, the cover letter is looked at closely as there are only a few internship positions, and recruiters like to see students who have spoken with people at the firm and done their research as to how each of the MBB is differentiated.

95% of cover letters from MBB are generic and are recycled for each firm, except for a couple sentences changing the title, firm name, and a few buzz words each consultancy uses.

In our experience at MBB reviewing resumes from target schools, the cover letters make a difference for students who are not at the top of the pack of resumes. Those students who have 3.9+ GPAs and stellar internships or campus experiences will most likely get the interview slots, unless a glaring error or negligible effort was put into the cover letter.

Of the many students who are a cut below, the cover letter is often a deciding factor. As an example, an outstanding cover letter for an above-average (but not top) applicant mentioned conversations the applicant had with consultants at the firm, specific examples of interaction he had with their people, and the industry and capability areas where that firm was leader. In this case, the cover letter made the applicant a "second priority" to a "priority" for the interview.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting ready NOW for full-time management consulting positions

1. How do you overcome having a good, but not stellar, GPA for MBB?
The point is to get strong experience your junior summer -- even if it is not a consulting position, the stronger the brand name the better positioned you will be for full time. Places like Bain and AT Kearney look favorably upon any experience at JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, other banks as well as industry roles at Google and the like. Those positions are still open for applications so definitely apply there ASAP. The more private sector experiences you have on your resume, the less hesitation recruiters will have about a good (albeit not stellar) GPA.

2. How much more competitive are the junior internships for MBB than landing the full time positions?
McKinsey takes a handful, usually less than 8, for the larger offices. By contrast, for full time, they have around 30 BAs in those offices.

Bain and BCG take from 2-10 interns an office. By contrast, Bain has 25-30 ACs in the larger offices for full time. At BCG, the numbers are slightly less.

This goes to show that it is VERY difficult to land internship positions as summers, but the prospects for full time undergrad recruiting are easier (though comparably to finance still difficult).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Choosing a placement desk in sales & trading

Congratulations to those readers who've sent us the good news on summer offers!

The next question for them is often: "How should I rank my preferences for certain desks? Which desks are best for landing the full time position?"

There is no right answer here. There is also an element of science behind choosing the desks that will set you up for a full time offer. (Note: some of these points apply to placement in investment banking and other finance positions as well)

Questions to ask alums and other contacts you have at the firm:
  1. Has the trading desk hosted interns in past summers? If so, how many interns landed offers?
  2. Are there desk-specific projects that interns typically complete on those select desks?
  3. Is the culture of the desk that interns can easily approach the senior MDs and VPs, or do they tend to work with the other analysts and associates?
  4. For those people who end up leaving their full time jobs at the desk, where do they go - to other hedge funds that specialize in that product, or do they place at particular firms that do not have product specialization?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More positive results come in

Many of our readers have reached out to us for resume and interview help. Here are more responses from those who worked with us:

"Thank you so much for your help! Admittedly, I was hesitant about spending a $100 as an undergraduate student, but I can easily say you guys have exceeded all of my expectations."

"I've used other resume services in the past and I can say, without a single doubt, that your service and product far surpassed any other help I've had in the past. Other services merely changed a few words around, and gave generic comments that were hard to translate into an improved, revised resume. By contrast, your team was responsive, attentive, patient, and actionable in your comments and revisions. You gave concrete examples, directly rewriting the language of 75% of my bullets so that it conveyed business language and insight. I was recently offered a full time position at BCG (after failing to get an interview for the junior summer internship). I couldn't have done it without your help."

"I'm sad that I didn't discover your site sooner. After some hesitation to use an online service, I decided that I needed expert feedback. You were understanding in finishing the resume and interview preparation within a span of 3 days, which allowed me to put my best application forward to both banks and consulting firms. (better yet, you guys didn't charge additional fees for the quick turnaround). I have already received several interview invites!! Wanted to share the fabulous news and say thank you."

Consultant internship interviews

On campus recruiting for juniors and sophomores are in full swing.

Some of our readers have reached out to us with questions on how to stand out in a pile of resumes. Moreover, they want to know what additional characteristics firms like McKinsey and Bain look for in their candidates in the summer internship rounds.

The summer internships at McKinsey, Bain and other consulting firms are notoriously difficult to land. This is due to the limited number of spots: at certain offices in their system, McKinsey or Bain will only have 2 to 8 interns at each office every summer.

So, cutting to the chase, what common threads can be found among those who were fortunate enough to have a summer internship offer at a top management consulting firm?

  • Strong academic credentials: At one of the most competitive offices of MBB, summer interns boasted an average SAT of 1540 on Math and Reading. The average GPA was over 3.8.
  • Significant and prestigious campus leadership: Some students were on the lower end of the academic performance curve. However, they stood out by being class presidents, university representatives on boards, and the like. MBB look for these "class captains" because after their summer internships, they return to campus and serve as ambassadors for the firm -- they are the big people on campus and often convince their network of friends and classmates to apply for full-time.
  • Other outstanding accomplishments: Beyond the buckets listed above, those who land summer internships may stand out for other reasons. Some were star science researchers in undergraduate / postgrad labs, had done policy research in developing countries, designed afterschool curriculums for disadvantaged students, or have done other significant experiences that catch recruiters' eyes
That being said, it is certainly possible to get an internship or job in consulting without being extraordinary on all of these fronts. When it comes down to it, a resume needs to be well-written, polished, and make you memorable during the interview screening. Having the above experiences will no doubt help, but there are other ways to merit favorable consideration - by doing common tasks (your academics, some extracurriculars, and networking very well).

Last, an interest in consulting is a must. Consultants often pass on stellar resumes when they don't feel that an applicant really understands what the industry, job and firm are all about.

Feel free to keep those questions coming.

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