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Advice for a Final year student looking to improve their candidacy

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New answer on Mar 18, 2024
7 Answers
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David asked on Mar 15, 2024

Hi Guys,

I'm a final-year Finance and Economics student at Otago University in Dunedin, and I'm really keen on breaking into Management Consulting. Unfortunately, I received no interviews for the recent MBB recruitment round for Australia and New Zealand. Hence, I'm asking for some advice on what I can do in the final year of my degree to improve my candidacy for next year's round.

I feel like I have a strong application/resume; in terms of work experience, I have a previous Consulting Internship at PwC. At university, I am an executive in the Otago Consulting Club and have significant Involvement in football as a player and coach. While in High School, I was involved in many service initiatives and was a Boarding and Academic Prefect.

Academically, my situation differs a lot from that of other people. When I first went to university I was studying medicine, I didnt enjoy it and burnt out significantly, ultimately failing most of my classes in the second semester, despite have an average mark of 85%+ in first sem. I changed my degree to a BCom Majoring in Finance and Economics and have since found success, currently holding an 8.2/9 GPA (89% Average mark); I was also recognised as being in the top 4 for first-year economics students.

Working at MBB is something I am really passionate about doing, and I thought I had good enough grades paired with my extra ciriculars to at least get into an interview. Thus, Im wondering if anyone could give me some advice on where I could improve.

Additionally, I have a return offer at PwC, so im wondering if I should go back there and reapply to MBB firms or go and do my masters instead, what would give me a better chance of breaking into management consulting.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


 

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Sohini
Expert
replied on Mar 15, 2024
Ex- Strategy Consultant ZS Associate | Commercial Strategy Director | Michigan MBA | Pharma/Financial Svc. /Tech Expert

Hi,

Since you already have a consulting offer, asssuming  what you want to improve your candidacy for MBB - I would suggest you reach out to alumni from your university who have worked at MBBs, and try to get their advice directly on what is the gap.

With the academic and other credentials you have mentioned, and your consulting internship experience, you should have had a good chance to be called for an interview. So try to get any feedback you can whether on resume, cover letter, communication style/content or other aspects of the application to see what can be improved.

Lastly keep any communication short and clear. People have limited time so you have to learn to keep things brief and to the point to get effective response.

Hope this helps.

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 15, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 15, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi David,

1) Im wondering if anyone could give me some advice on where I could improve.

For MBB, the best option you have is to try again after the ban 12-18 months. If you would like to get an invitation from a top firm you should work on 3 things. I have listed them below.

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1) CV

The key elements they will look for and that you can optimize are:

  • University brand
  • Major
  • GPA
  • Work experience
  • Experience abroad
  • Extracurriculars and volunteer experience

Red flags include:

  • Low GPA
  • Lack of any kind of work experience
  • Bad formatting / typos
  • 3-4 pages length
  • Lack of clear action --> results structure for the bullets of the experiences
  • Long paragraphs (3-4 lines) for the bullets of the experiences with irrelevant details
  • Long time gaps without any explanation

You can compensate for possible red flags with a referral (see point #3 below).

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2) COVER LETTER

You can structure a cover in 4 parts:

  1. Introduction, mentioning the position you are interested in and a specific element you find attractive for that company.
  2. Why you are qualified for the job, where you can report 3 skills/stories from your CV, ideally related to leadership, impact, drive and teamwork.
  3. Why you are interested in that particular firm, with additional 1-2 specific reasons.
  4. Final remarks, mentioning again your interest.

In part 2 you can write about experiences that show skills useful in consulting such as drive, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork and influencing others.

It is important that in part 3 you make your cover specific to a particular firm – the rule of thumb is, can you send the exact same cover to another consulting company if you change the name? If that’s the case, your cover is too generic.

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3) REFERRALS

To find a referral, you should follow three steps:

  1. Identify the people who can help you
  2. Write to them a customized email
  3. Have a call and indirectly ask for a referral

You can find more information on networking and referrals here:

▶ How to Get an MBB Invitation 

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BONUS: INTERVIEW PREPARATION

After you managed to get an invitation you need to find out how to pass the interview. You can find more on that at the link below.

▶ How to Prepare for an MBB Interview

2) Additionally, I have a return offer at PwC, so im wondering if I should go back there and reapply to MBB firms or go and do my masters instead, what would give me a better chance of breaking into management consulting.

Is the position at PwC in strategy and does it allow you to move to MBB from what you can see on LinkedIn? If so, it could provide better options than a Master.

The Master could help if:

  • It allows you to target a more senior position compared to Bachelor + Working experience (in some countries MBB require a Master as well). Given you already applied in the past, I assume that’s not the case.
  • It allows you to intern for a more prestigious firm in strategy. You should be able to check it on LinkedIn by looking at exits from the Master vs people who moved from PwC to another firm.

If that’s not the case, the Big 4 role might be better. It depends on the following:

  • The work experience is useful for your CV (you don’t already have other work experiences similar/superior).
  • The transition from that Big 4 to strategy is possible. In some countries a Big 4 role unrelated to strategy might have a negative effect on your CV. You can double-check that on LinkedIn by looking if other people who worked for that Big 4 in that division did make a transition to consulting.

Additionally, be sure to choose a job that you like rather than just consider what it could lead to as next steps. Even in case the Big4 role is better in terms of moving to MBB, there is no reason to join and work there for a few years if you don't like the job.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 15, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

David, 

Based on your description of your profile, there's no obvious ‘problem’. The fact that you didn't pass screening most likely has to do with a combination of two factors

1. Your application package. CV wasn't written well enough. Cover Letter was not impressive. You didn't have referrals. You did no networking. You weren't in touch with the recruiter so you didn't know when to apply. 

2. The market is down - meaning, they are taking in fewer people and are thus much tougher on screening. 

Needless to say, you can't do much about the point 2, but point 1 is all within your control. 

Sharing with you a few resources to help work on those things and if you have questions beyond that, do reach out:

Best,
Cristian

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Alberto
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 18, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Start by dealing with the fact that less than 1% of MBB applicants get an offer. 

Once you accept that, network and get referrals. Do more consulting internships. Improve your CV and cover letter. Have a backup plan in the probable case you don't get an MBB offer.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 15, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi David,

I didn't see your CV and cover letter so I can't be certain about that potentially having had an impact. Otherwise your profile seems fine. However, the economic environment is not rosy so competition is even stiffer since less offers are given out.

It sounds like you did not have any internal referrals when you applied to MBB. This is something you should definitely try to get next time around - start networking well in advance. This will be even more important during unfavorable market conditions.

If you can't get into MBB after graduation, consider taking the PwC offer so that you will at least gain relevant consulting experience. Then you can always try again at MBB at a later stage as an experienced hire should that still be your desire.

Best

 

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 15, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Profile seems fine. I would say this is a matter of:

  • maximizing grades
  • networking
  • referral
  • polishing resume + cover letter
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Sohini gave the best answer

Sohini

Ex- Strategy Consultant ZS Associate | Commercial Strategy Director | Michigan MBA | Pharma/Financial Svc. /Tech Expert
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