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Switching Firms and Re-recruitment2019-02-02T19:22:10+00:00

Switching Firms and Re-recruitment

IRENA YANG is a senior at Northwestern, studying Journalism and Economics with a Business Institutions Minor. In her junior year, she interned at Oliver Wyman as a Summer Consultant. She is now an Incoming Associate Consultant at Bain and Company.

“Be comfortable with being uncomfortable!”

Q: How did you first get interested in consulting & how was preparing for recruitment?

A: I got interested in consulting near the end of my sophomore year internship. I realized I didn’t want to go into marketing or PR, so I thought I would try consulting recruitment. Consulting recruitment at Northwestern is great because all the companies come to us and the process is extremely structured, so I figured I should at least see what it’s all about and hopefully learn or grow from the process. Additionally, I really enjoyed my experience at Student Holdings, which gave me exposure to working with a lot of super cool, smart people who were also interested in business. So, I thought it would be really fun to work in a similar type of environment.

As for preparation, I first talked to a few upperclassmen I knew who had done consulting internships and they helped me figure out how I should start prepping. I personally prioritized writing a strong resume and learning how to case by practicing with my peers. But, the best case preparation I ended up getting was the actual interviews. I was fortunate to get a decent amount of interviews my junior year and that ended up being most of practice during the bulk of recruitment.

I probably spent less time than most people on networking because I had heard that networking is not quite as effective as it is for say finance recruitment, but you can get pretty different opinions on that. But from my experience, there was very little correlation between the amount of contact I had with a company and what interviews/offers I got. So, my personal recommendation is if you can, to participate in any structured company-organized networking—e.g.invite-only events, coffee chats, etc.—but don’t focus on cold-calling, unless you’re genuinely interested in learning more from someone in particular.

Q: You spent your junior year summer at Oliver Wyman, and now you are going to Bain for full-time. What were some of the key drivers behind your making the decision to switch firms for full-time?

A: I really enjoyed my summer in consulting and it helped me realize how much I could enjoy consulting as a full-time career. But I also wanted to see if there were any other opportunities out there, so I decided to re-recruit and see what happens. I actually think full-time recruitment is a lot “easier” than internship recruitment for two reasons: (1) companies have a lot more spots available for full-time than they do for interns, and (2) the pool of people re-recruiting is slightly different. The top applicants during junior year recruitment will have already signed with their summer employer, so they won’t be in the pool anymore. Additionally, there may be people who did not do consulting internships so having done one will give you a slight edge (but that’s just my theory)! Based on what I saw from many of my friends who also decided to re-recruit, their chances of getting interviews increased substantially during full-time recruitment.

Q: Once you realized you wanted to switch for full-time, what was the preparation process? How did you manage to re-recruit?

A: I did not prepare as much for full-time recruitment and since I applied to less companies, it was less draining of a commitment. I also interviewed last year for all the companies I applied for full-time, so I had a little bit better of an understanding of the interview and case format, which helped me gain more confidence going into full-time interviews. Like I said earlier, it’s a lot easier to get interviews for full-time, especially when you’ve already done a summer consulting internship and demonstrated competency there. For preparation, I therefore just did case practice with peers and tried to think more critically about what I was trying to convey in my behavioral responses. I thought about what I wanted the interviewer to take away from me as a person through my stories and tried to tailor my responses to help highlight those key qualities. For example, I really wanted to highlight my background as a journalism major in a way that was relevant to consulting, so I tried find ways in which journalism and consulting are similar and emphasized that when I explained why I was interested in consulting.

Ultimately, I think the biggest challenge for me was maintaining confidence throughout the process. During junior year, I didn’t go into recruitment with too many expectations, so even though I didn’t get every offer I wanted, I still felt very successful and lucky. This time, although I tried not to, I ended up feeling a bit more pressure, and I think for most people that’s the toughest part. Full-time recruitment was more of a mental game, so it’s important to not psych yourself out.

Q: What was your biggest selling point? Looking back at your Bain interviews, how do you think you were able to stand out?

A: Interviewers can see right through a very formulaic case approach, especially when they give the same case over and over again, so it’s crucial to find ways to stand out, such as using a slightly more unique case framework, providing topical/relevant commentary that’s specific to your case, or just having a positive attitude. I think a lot of juniors especially fail to recognize the fit aspect of a case and how important your first impression can be. It’s critical to open the interview with a strong first impression. Whether that’s having a really good answer to “tell me about yourself” or explaining your case structure with a confident and friendly tone, the way you present yourself and your ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves.

I think my biggest selling point was being flexible and adaptable during my interviews. I actually did not think one of my final round interviews for Bain went very well, as I got stuck pretty early on in the case. Once the partner realized this, we ended up having more of a conversation about the case and he asked me a couple questions to see what I could think of (or how I think in general). Luckily, I think I was able to react and adapt quickly and explain my thought process well during that little hiccup, and by keeping my composure I was able to recover toward the end (at the time, though, I thought I bombed it haha). Honestly though, it just goes to show that you can never be sure what your true “selling point” is, so it’s best to just focus on what you can control and just hope for the best!

Q: For full-time job-seekers with junior year consulting internship, I feel that it’d be easy to feel comfortable and maybe even complacent. If you have experienced anything similar, how did you overcome it?

A: Yes, it can be difficult to find motivation to re-recruit, especially when you do have a good summer experience (which I did). But I personally felt like there was no harm in trying to re-recruit and see what happens, and then decide later if I needed to. As I said before, I think the hardest part of re-recruitment was just how mentally draining it was to go through the process all over again. Luckily, it was a lot shorter than last year, but it made me realize I should take everything day by day instead of worrying about any future potential decisions I would have to make. In the end, I thought I should just try re-recruitment to explore new opportunities and so I wouldn’t have any regrets. I knew there were other opportunities out there for me that could be a better fit and I didn’t want to regret not at least attempting to explore those other opportunities.

Q: We always end our interview with a one-liner tip for people going through recruitment. What would be your one-liner advice for our viewers going through consulting recruitment, for those who may be in a similar position as you were a year ago?

A: My biggest piece of advice, which is most applicable for the interview, would be to try to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It can be tough to predict what type of case you’ll get or how well you and your interviewer will vibe, so always try to be confident and show off your personality whenever possible!

IRENA YANG is a senior at Northwestern, studying Journalism and Economics with a Business Institutions Minor. In her junior year, she interned at Oliver Wyman as a Summer Consultant. She is now an Incoming Associate Consultant at Bain and Company.

“Be comfortable with being uncomfortable!”

Q: How did you first get interested in consulting & how was preparing for recruitment?

A: I got interested in consulting near the end of my sophomore year internship. I realized I didn’t want to go into marketing or PR, so I thought I would try consulting recruitment. Consulting recruitment at Northwestern is great because all the companies come to us and the process is extremely structured, so I figured I should at least see what it’s all about and hopefully learn or grow from the process. Additionally, I really enjoyed my experience at Student Holdings, which gave me exposure to working with a lot of super cool, smart people who were also interested in business. So, I thought it would be really fun to work in a similar type of environment.

As for preparation, I first talked to a few upperclassmen I knew who had done consulting internships and they helped me figure out how I should start prepping. I personally prioritized writing a strong resume and learning how to case by practicing with my peers. But, the best case preparation I ended up getting was the actual interviews. I was fortunate to get a decent amount of interviews my junior year and that ended up being most of practice during the bulk of recruitment.

I probably spent less time than most people on networking because I had heard that networking is not quite as effective as it is for say finance recruitment, but you can get pretty different opinions on that. But from my experience, there was very little correlation between the amount of contact I had with a company and what interviews/offers I got. So, my personal recommendation is if you can, to participate in any structured company-organized networking—e.g.invite-only events, coffee chats, etc.—but don’t focus on cold-calling, unless you’re genuinely interested in learning more from someone in particular.

Q: You spent your junior year summer at Oliver Wyman, and now you are going to Bain for full-time. What were some of the key drivers behind your making the decision to switch firms for full-time?

A: I really enjoyed my summer in consulting and it helped me realize how much I could enjoy consulting as a full-time career. But I also wanted to see if there were any other opportunities out there, so I decided to re-recruit and see what happens. I actually think full-time recruitment is a lot “easier” than internship recruitment for two reasons: (1) companies have a lot more spots available for full-time than they do for interns, and (2) the pool of people re-recruiting is slightly different. The top applicants during junior year recruitment will have already signed with their summer employer, so they won’t be in the pool anymore. Additionally, there may be people who did not do consulting internships so having done one will give you a slight edge (but that’s just my theory)! Based on what I saw from many of my friends who also decided to re-recruit, their chances of getting interviews increased substantially during full-time recruitment.

Q: Once you realized you wanted to switch for full-time, what was the preparation process? How did you manage to re-recruit?

A: I did not prepare as much for full-time recruitment and since I applied to less companies, it was less draining of a commitment. I also interviewed last year for all the companies I applied for full-time, so I had a little bit better of an understanding of the interview and case format, which helped me gain more confidence going into full-time interviews. Like I said earlier, it’s a lot easier to get interviews for full-time, especially when you’ve already done a summer consulting internship and demonstrated competency there. For preparation, I therefore just did case practice with peers and tried to think more critically about what I was trying to convey in my behavioral responses. I thought about what I wanted the interviewer to take away from me as a person through my stories and tried to tailor my responses to help highlight those key qualities. For example, I really wanted to highlight my background as a journalism major in a way that was relevant to consulting, so I tried find ways in which journalism and consulting are similar and emphasized that when I explained why I was interested in consulting.

Ultimately, I think the biggest challenge for me was maintaining confidence throughout the process. During junior year, I didn’t go into recruitment with too many expectations, so even though I didn’t get every offer I wanted, I still felt very successful and lucky. This time, although I tried not to, I ended up feeling a bit more pressure, and I think for most people that’s the toughest part. Full-time recruitment was more of a mental game, so it’s important to not psych yourself out.

Q: What was your biggest selling point? Looking back at your Bain interviews, how do you think you were able to stand out?

A: Interviewers can see right through a very formulaic case approach, especially when they give the same case over and over again, so it’s crucial to find ways to stand out, such as using a slightly more unique case framework, providing topical/relevant commentary that’s specific to your case, or just having a positive attitude. I think a lot of juniors especially fail to recognize the fit aspect of a case and how important your first impression can be. It’s critical to open the interview with a strong first impression. Whether that’s having a really good answer to “tell me about yourself” or explaining your case structure with a confident and friendly tone, the way you present yourself and your ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves.

I think my biggest selling point was being flexible and adaptable during my interviews. I actually did not think one of my final round interviews for Bain went very well, as I got stuck pretty early on in the case. Once the partner realized this, we ended up having more of a conversation about the case and he asked me a couple questions to see what I could think of (or how I think in general). Luckily, I think I was able to react and adapt quickly and explain my thought process well during that little hiccup, and by keeping my composure I was able to recover toward the end (at the time, though, I thought I bombed it haha). Honestly though, it just goes to show that you can never be sure what your true “selling point” is, so it’s best to just focus on what you can control and just hope for the best!

Q: For full-time job-seekers with junior year consulting internship, I feel that it’d be easy to feel comfortable and maybe even complacent. If you have experienced anything similar, how did you overcome it?

A: Yes, it can be difficult to find motivation to re-recruit, especially when you do have a good summer experience (which I did). But I personally felt like there was no harm in trying to re-recruit and see what happens, and then decide later if I needed to. As I said before, I think the hardest part of re-recruitment was just how mentally draining it was to go through the process all over again. Luckily, it was a lot shorter than last year, but it made me realize I should take everything day by day instead of worrying about any future potential decisions I would have to make. In the end, I thought I should just try re-recruitment to explore new opportunities and so I wouldn’t have any regrets. I knew there were other opportunities out there for me that could be a better fit and I didn’t want to regret not at least attempting to explore those other opportunities.

Q: We always end our interview with a one-liner tip for people going through recruitment. What would be your one-liner advice for our viewers going through consulting recruitment, for those who may be in a similar position as you were a year ago?

A: My biggest piece of advice, which is most applicable for the interview, would be to try to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It can be tough to predict what type of case you’ll get or how well you and your interviewer will vibe, so always try to be confident and show off your personality whenever possible!