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Advice for starting as Associate at BCG as Engineering Graduate

Someone asked on Mar 14, 2019 - 2 answers

Good morning, first of all I would like to thank everyone contributing here for some great advice and many tranquilizing threads that helped me chill over the whole process!

I just accepted an offer for an Associate position at a BCG office in western Europe, where I'll start in a few months. I am currently finishing my Master in Electrical Engineering with some leadership experience during college years but not much knowledge of management/finance so far, so I want to ask for any advice on how to prepare for this, or if its needed. I just do not want to lag behind business graduate colleagues.

Also, any tips on how to go through the whole work life balance stuff? I highly value family, friends and my boyfriend and just do not want this job to be too negative for my relationships.

Thank you in advance!

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Francesco replied on Mar 18, 2019
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (2.100+) | Ex BCG | 1.000+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

congratulations on your offer! If you want to prepare in advance before you start, I would recommend working on technical, communication and stress management skills.

  • On the technical side, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for VLOOKUPs and Pivot tables; you could also review PowerPoint, which you will also use quite a lot.
    • At BCG you will have learning courses you could use to improve, but so far that you have already mastered the skills before joining (you can find several courses online for both), even better.
    • Tip for Excel: learn how to use as much as possible the keyword and relegate the touchpad to the minimum – this will skyrocket your productivity in the long term. Some computer programs such as KeyRocket provide tips to improve on this.
  • For what concerns communication, I would recommend the classic book on the topic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
  • For stress management/work-life balance, I recommend two books:
    • The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod – great tips to start in the right way your day
    • The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz – a great sum up of some of the best tips be positive, productive and achieve more

You won’t need specific business knowledge initially different from the one you already mastered with case preparation. Still, in case you want to go through some specific business topics, I would suggest reviewing the list of recommended books from a top MBA (eg Insead) and read those you find more interesting.

Below you can also find a list of things that could be useful to practice during your first weeks:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double check. The first impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Anonymous B replied on Mar 18, 2019

Hello,

Congratulations on getting the offer! Would you mind share with me your preparation process? I'm engineering major as well, and currently preparing for Mckinsey's interview, I have no case experience and will have the interview very soon. I'm hoping to get some suggestions from non-MBA background. Thank!!

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