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Advice on Preparation after the offer: What can I do to prepare for the start?

Anonymous A asked on Jun 06, 2019

Hi all, I just received an offer from BCG for an entry-level position starting in the fourth quarter this year in Germany. I do have some time until then and am currently thinking if you have any tips on what I can do to prepare myself for the start. I am thinking about hard skills mainly, so PPT and Excel. For PPT, I think I just need to get into the flow again but for Excel I think that I might not be on the same level as the other new hires. So, if you have any tips or websites to check out, that would be highly appreciated. I know there will be the 2 week training in the beginning, I am just trying to use the time I currently have to avoid a suboptimal start.

Thank you all for your hints :)

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Vlad replied on Jun 06, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Hi,

Definitely take a break! Also, I would concentrate on getting the right financial modeling skills and presenting your analysis in Power Point.

1) Financial modeling - the best course I know is Training The Street. Take Financial Modeling, Valuation, Maybe LBO. Also, learn pivot tables and the basic statistics tools

Excel and Financial modeling - the best course I know is Training The Street. Take Financial Modeling, Valuation, Maybe LBO. They have the amazing templates that you have to reproduce to be able to do that fast.

The key thing - throw away your mouse and put some tape on your touchpad. Do everything with your keyboard!

2) Power Point

  • First, read "Say it with charts" and "Pyramid Principle".
  • As a next step Google for MBB presentations on SlideShare and try to replicate them in PPT.
  • Finally, take MBA some cases (HBS or any other) and try to derive the conclusions and put them on slides using MBB styles.

And finally - take a long vacation before starting your job;)

While in consulting focus on the following:

  • Having a good DGL / career counselor, etc. (Each company has different names). This is a person who guides your development in the company, collects the feedbacks on you, and presents your case to a promotion committee. Make sure to have a person who is organized enough to collect the feedbacks in time, who is a nice person in general and who has enough authority in the company (i.e. Senior partner - the more power he has - the better)
  • Choosing the project you work on smartly (i.e. collect the feedbacks on each and everyone prior to accepting the project)
  • Perfect technical skills (Excel, PPT, Problem Solving)
  • Good feedbacks on you from the client. Thus try to make friends with your clients (Both senior and non-senior role. Even a bad feedback from a blue collar can ruin your career)
  • Ability to manage your own standalone workstream with minimum supervision. TOP performers bring the end products that impress others
  • Being proactive - helping the team with daily routine, scheduling, etc. Participating in the office initiatives
  • Establishing relationships with your managers and partners. Ideally, you should have multiple senior partners to be excited about you and to support you)
  • Being lucky!

Good Luck!

Jonas updated his answer on Jun 06, 2019
Looking for advanced/pro partners based in Vienna. Preparing for McKinsey 14.06.

This is just a personal opinion, but I would recommend to travel somewhere / recharge batteries / have an exciting time, and don't worry about the work for now.

Because: you'll learn all necessary skills best by doing, worst case you'll take some tasks into the weekend/ later evening to catch up during the 1st week, but especially Excel / PowerBi is much easier to learn with actual tasks (not simulations), quick feedback and colleagues around.

From my experience, being slightly better than you're today with Excel won't be noticed, what will be noticed is how energetic you are and if you have nice & fun stories to tell from your personal hobbies.

Two low effort high impact things that come to mind though: knowing all the shortcuts for ppt/xls and understanding key formulas such as vlookup (in case that is lacking)

(edited)

Amir updated his answer on Jun 06, 2019

Hi,

I would recommend learning 3 things prior you are starting

1. Fundamentals of databases - in fact, data is everywhere. Especially for consultants who deal with a huge amount of data. If you understand at least basics, how to structure data, how tables interact with each other, then you will definitely progress and impress your fellow partners. I suggest SQL - search in Coursera. This will help you even to use excel in a more structured way. You do not need to be an IT or DBA, but these skills will help you to better interact with a data scientist.

2. Learn visualization tools like Tableau or Power BI. In addition to the first point, you should be able to visualize your analysis in a nice and clear way. Forget about standard excel, use advanced, interactive dashboards. It is easy to learn.

3. Some basic statistics is important.

Rest, PowerPoint, Excel, Presentation skills - you cannot really prepare and you will advance those skills on the job. Wherever you go in the future career path, the above-mentioned skills will always be useful for you!

Finally, good luck!

(edited)

Francesco updated his answer on Jun 12, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

first of all, 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 to improve on them, 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, I would 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

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

(edited)

Paul
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updated his answer on Jun 13, 2019
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I have some free videos you can nerd out on my YouTube channel. But honestly, take a break - BCG is a great learning environment. Its going to be an intense learning curve no matter how much you prepare.

Wait til they are paying you!

https://youtu.be/RVPW9MWPO3Y

(edited)

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