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Expert with best answer

Ian

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267 Meetings

23,136 Q&A Upvotes

USD 289 / Coaching

34

How to prepare for consulting career

Dear all,

I received offers from the three MBBs and will accept the offre from BCG as a consulant.
I am transitioning from a tier 2 consulting firm and would like to get some tips in order to prepare best for the role.
What are your tips in order to perform and succeed the best at BCG as a consultant?
Thanks a lot for your help,

Dear all,

I received offers from the three MBBs and will accept the offre from BCG as a consulant.
I am transitioning from a tier 2 consulting firm and would like to get some tips in order to prepare best for the role.
What are your tips in order to perform and succeed the best at BCG as a consultant?
Thanks a lot for your help,

34 answers

  • Upvotes
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Best Answer
Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

Really great question!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: Attend an academy

There are so many great training programs that prepare new graduates for the consulting world! I'm part of a few myself. Feel free to shoot me a message and I can point you in the right direction!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some great online/virtual classes for this (including the academies meantioned above

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fifth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

Hi there,

Really great question!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: Attend an academy

There are so many great training programs that prepare new graduates for the consulting world! I'm part of a few myself. Feel free to shoot me a message and I can point you in the right direction!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some great online/virtual classes for this (including the academies meantioned above

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fifth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi there,

Congrats on the offer! If you want to prepare in advance before you start, I recommend to work on technical and communication skills and a proper mindset.

  • 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 if needed. You will likely receive training on this once you start anyway.
    • 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 better communication, two great books are:
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss
  • For mindset, two great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy
    • The Magic of Thinking Big - David J. Schwartz

I agree with Luca and Vlad that preparing the GMAT would be useful if you are targeting an MBA.

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. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  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

Hi there,

Congrats on the offer! If you want to prepare in advance before you start, I recommend to work on technical and communication skills and a proper mindset.

  • 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 if needed. You will likely receive training on this once you start anyway.
    • 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 better communication, two great books are:
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss
  • For mindset, two great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy
    • The Magic of Thinking Big - David J. Schwartz

I agree with Luca and Vlad that preparing the GMAT would be useful if you are targeting an MBA.

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. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  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

Book a coaching with Vlad

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Hi,

1) 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 repsoduce 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.

3) GMAT if you are planning MBA

4) Take a long vacation before starting your job;)

Good Luck!

Hi,

1) 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 repsoduce 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.

3) GMAT if you are planning MBA

4) Take a long vacation before starting your job;)

Good Luck!

Book a coaching with Luca

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Hello,

I would suggest to relax, since you will be very busy once that you will start :)
They will prepare an on-boarding course that will give you some time to prepare and they will not expect specific pre-requisites from you.

If you want to do something that could be useful for your next experience I would suggest the following (in this order of priority):

  • Prepare GMAT test, especially if you are interested in an MBA. It requires 1/2 full months of studying and it's really hard to find the time once that you are inside the company
  • Improve your Powerpoint and excel skills, focusing on shortcuts and effectiveness (it's not important to use complex functions..)
  • Learn a new Data Analysis software, like Tableau

Best,
Luca

Hello,

I would suggest to relax, since you will be very busy once that you will start :)
They will prepare an on-boarding course that will give you some time to prepare and they will not expect specific pre-requisites from you.

If you want to do something that could be useful for your next experience I would suggest the following (in this order of priority):

  • Prepare GMAT test, especially if you are interested in an MBA. It requires 1/2 full months of studying and it's really hard to find the time once that you are inside the company
  • Improve your Powerpoint and excel skills, focusing on shortcuts and effectiveness (it's not important to use complex functions..)
  • Learn a new Data Analysis software, like Tableau

Best,
Luca

Dear A,

Congratulations to your offer! Well done!

IMHO, I would propose to take rest for a couple of months and spend your time with friend and family.

If you really want to train, you can improving your technical skills. Also, for candidates like you I have created a program "First 100 days in your career and long term career success".

If you are interested in more details, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

Dear A,

Congratulations to your offer! Well done!

IMHO, I would propose to take rest for a couple of months and spend your time with friend and family.

If you really want to train, you can improving your technical skills. Also, for candidates like you I have created a program "First 100 days in your career and long term career success".

If you are interested in more details, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

Book a coaching with Robert

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Hi Anonymous,

On top of all the great conent-advice already given - don't forget to relax, it will be an intensive time and it's good to not be exhausted before you start.

What is oftenly overlooked is arranging your personal environment for this change - unless you come from investment banking, your personal life will need severe restructuring and it's good to prepare this in advance.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

On top of all the great conent-advice already given - don't forget to relax, it will be an intensive time and it's good to not be exhausted before you start.

What is oftenly overlooked is arranging your personal environment for this change - unless you come from investment banking, your personal life will need severe restructuring and it's good to prepare this in advance.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Book a coaching with Henning

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Two things:

  • travel and enjoy the time before the life hits you in the face again
  • if you do want to get a headstart - make sure you're up to speed in excel modelling, and potentially start with Tableau & Alteryx

Beyond that, the consulting firms will equip you with everything else you need to know.

Two things:

  • travel and enjoy the time before the life hits you in the face again
  • if you do want to get a headstart - make sure you're up to speed in excel modelling, and potentially start with Tableau & Alteryx

Beyond that, the consulting firms will equip you with everything else you need to know.

Book a coaching with Norah

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Dear Anonymous A,
First, congratulations on your 3 offers! That's a great outcome. What I would suggest in order is:
1. Celebrate your success: you have prepared for these interviews and you deserve some celebration with your family and friends, so go for it!
2. Prepare the hard skills:

- Financial modeling: Valuation models, basic analysis (pivot table, validation, formatting)

- Powerpoint: as you are transitioning from T2 to MBB, I think you already know this by you can focus on the messaging techniques, the formatting and the storylining. One exercise that I advised to junior consultants is to take any subject (really anyone) and draft 10 slides on it after 2 days of work (of course if you have some time) and go present it to someone outside the industry and a partner who is willing to spend 20 minutes on feedback. That might be helpful

- General knowledge: reading is key. If you think you can bring expertise in a certain field, I would recommend going through the market research / reports and get up to speed in the field you want to work in (let's say payments, you should then definitely check fintech forum lists, payments update by CB Insights etc)

3. Work on your soft skills:

Again, this should not be new to you as you are transitioning but I would really recommend you to work on those 3 skills, especially for BCG: assertiveness, empathy and team work.

- Get (a) mentor(s): maybe it's ont of your interviewers, or the first manager you will have, or else. Anyway, you should work on getting this network as soon as you get into the MBB you will choose

- Get a buddy: when you will start your journey at any MBB, they will assign you a mentor and a buddy. However, try to find someone who will give you the tips and tricks to succeed in the first month. As you are transitioning from another consulting firm, that could be very frustrating to get up to speed to consultants that have lower seniority than you but who are "at home".

4. Other tips:

- Focus on giving your best on the first two projects to set confidence in the office and be a go to person

- on the second semester, after you built your professional brand, start building your personal brand, by getting involved in the office activities

- After one year, you will feel at home

Anyway, again, congratulations! Don't forget it is quite rare to get all 3 of the MBBs, so good job and best of luck for your career!

Dear Anonymous A,
First, congratulations on your 3 offers! That's a great outcome. What I would suggest in order is:
1. Celebrate your success: you have prepared for these interviews and you deserve some celebration with your family and friends, so go for it!
2. Prepare the hard skills:

- Financial modeling: Valuation models, basic analysis (pivot table, validation, formatting)

- Powerpoint: as you are transitioning from T2 to MBB, I think you already know this by you can focus on the messaging techniques, the formatting and the storylining. One exercise that I advised to junior consultants is to take any subject (really anyone) and draft 10 slides on it after 2 days of work (of course if you have some time) and go present it to someone outside the industry and a partner who is willing to spend 20 minutes on feedback. That might be helpful

- General knowledge: reading is key. If you think you can bring expertise in a certain field, I would recommend going through the market research / reports and get up to speed in the field you want to work in (let's say payments, you should then definitely check fintech forum lists, payments update by CB Insights etc)

3. Work on your soft skills:

Again, this should not be new to you as you are transitioning but I would really recommend you to work on those 3 skills, especially for BCG: assertiveness, empathy and team work.

- Get (a) mentor(s): maybe it's ont of your interviewers, or the first manager you will have, or else. Anyway, you should work on getting this network as soon as you get into the MBB you will choose

- Get a buddy: when you will start your journey at any MBB, they will assign you a mentor and a buddy. However, try to find someone who will give you the tips and tricks to succeed in the first month. As you are transitioning from another consulting firm, that could be very frustrating to get up to speed to consultants that have lower seniority than you but who are "at home".

4. Other tips:

- Focus on giving your best on the first two projects to set confidence in the office and be a go to person

- on the second semester, after you built your professional brand, start building your personal brand, by getting involved in the office activities

- After one year, you will feel at home

Anyway, again, congratulations! Don't forget it is quite rare to get all 3 of the MBBs, so good job and best of luck for your career!

(edited)

Book a coaching with Guennael

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Congratulations!

- Excel definitely a must. There are various (cheap) excel training modules around, I highly suggest you get familiar w/ excel quickly if you aren't yet. Pivot tables, vlookups, even index match...

- Keyboard shortcuts. My first manager told me to get rid of my mouse (which is also standard procedure in banking btw)

- PowerPoint, sure why not

- Web scrapping, sure why not

- Above all, I'd relax and enjoy the down time right now; go out, sleep, exercise... Pretty soon, you'll have more work and stress than you'd want

Congratulations!

- Excel definitely a must. There are various (cheap) excel training modules around, I highly suggest you get familiar w/ excel quickly if you aren't yet. Pivot tables, vlookups, even index match...

- Keyboard shortcuts. My first manager told me to get rid of my mouse (which is also standard procedure in banking btw)

- PowerPoint, sure why not

- Web scrapping, sure why not

- Above all, I'd relax and enjoy the down time right now; go out, sleep, exercise... Pretty soon, you'll have more work and stress than you'd want

Book a coaching with Udayan

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MBB prepare you pretty well for the work you need to do so I would not necessarily worry too much about it. That being said, I think the one thing that set some of the top analysts/associates apart was the ability to perform advanced analytics- specifically to use python, SQL, VBA for obtaining and analyzing data alongside relevant software to visualize it.

MBB prepare you pretty well for the work you need to do so I would not necessarily worry too much about it. That being said, I think the one thing that set some of the top analysts/associates apart was the ability to perform advanced analytics- specifically to use python, SQL, VBA for obtaining and analyzing data alongside relevant software to visualize it.

Book a coaching with Antonello

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Hi, congrats for the offer! I recommend enjoying these months and arriving relaxed. What really helps is Excel and ppt skills. In addition to what suggested by other coaches, I recommend reading Say it with charts and The pyramid principle

Best,
Antonello

Hi, congrats for the offer! I recommend enjoying these months and arriving relaxed. What really helps is Excel and ppt skills. In addition to what suggested by other coaches, I recommend reading Say it with charts and The pyramid principle

Best,
Antonello

Hey,

My biggest advice is to not worry about all of that and go travel and enjoy yourself. First week training is awesome! Very fun and interactive. The trick here at the Firm is the learning and skills will come, but you have to make sure to enjoy yourself. Congrats!

Hey,

My biggest advice is to not worry about all of that and go travel and enjoy yourself. First week training is awesome! Very fun and interactive. The trick here at the Firm is the learning and skills will come, but you have to make sure to enjoy yourself. Congrats!

Originally answered:

How to prepare for my role in MBB?

What I've gathered from friends in consulting, you need to be:

  • Highly proficient at communicating information via decks (i.e. PowerPoint).
  • Fast and accurate in putting together numbers (i.e. Excel).

Seeing that it is an entry-level job, I am under the impression you are hired as a generalist. In that case, Businessweek/Financial Times for about an hour a day should keep you up to date on changes in the world.

Other than that, be sure to develop your wit and acumen (Elevate, GMAT questions, etc.).

Best of luck!

What I've gathered from friends in consulting, you need to be:

  • Highly proficient at communicating information via decks (i.e. PowerPoint).
  • Fast and accurate in putting together numbers (i.e. Excel).

Seeing that it is an entry-level job, I am under the impression you are hired as a generalist. In that case, Businessweek/Financial Times for about an hour a day should keep you up to date on changes in the world.

Other than that, be sure to develop your wit and acumen (Elevate, GMAT questions, etc.).

Best of luck!

Hi Congratulations on accepting the offer. I am currently in the interview process for McKinsey implememnattion for US office. Can i pick your brain on your experience with the interview process sometime?

Hi Congratulations on accepting the offer. I am currently in the interview process for McKinsey implememnattion for US office. Can i pick your brain on your experience with the interview process sometime?

Book a coaching with Allen

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Hi there,

Some great advice here, especially some Excel skills which I think will come in handy, but I'm going to disagree with all of it.

From experience, I know that McKinsey will give you all the training, coaching, and feedback you need once you start. You'll likely find it easier to learn when you know exactly what you need it for and when you see "how it's done here." So perhaps you should leave most of the skills training for later.

On the other hand, what about the big picture? Most of us spend so much time and effort preparing for careers at MBB, that we don't think enough about why we're doing it? What's important to you and what's your purpose? Spending time to deepen this aspect of yourself will help you find work at McKinsey that suits you best.

Second: people. Now that you have accepted your offer, it's a great time to work on your professional relationships. You're not busy right now, so who else can you support and help out? (trust me, it'll pay you back in the future, but that's another subject). Who can you reach out to so that you stay connected and for advice and mentorship? These sort of phone calls and virtual meetings are very important but almost never urgent, and now you have the luxury of time to make them happen.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!

Allen

Hi there,

Some great advice here, especially some Excel skills which I think will come in handy, but I'm going to disagree with all of it.

From experience, I know that McKinsey will give you all the training, coaching, and feedback you need once you start. You'll likely find it easier to learn when you know exactly what you need it for and when you see "how it's done here." So perhaps you should leave most of the skills training for later.

On the other hand, what about the big picture? Most of us spend so much time and effort preparing for careers at MBB, that we don't think enough about why we're doing it? What's important to you and what's your purpose? Spending time to deepen this aspect of yourself will help you find work at McKinsey that suits you best.

Second: people. Now that you have accepted your offer, it's a great time to work on your professional relationships. You're not busy right now, so who else can you support and help out? (trust me, it'll pay you back in the future, but that's another subject). Who can you reach out to so that you stay connected and for advice and mentorship? These sort of phone calls and virtual meetings are very important but almost never urgent, and now you have the luxury of time to make them happen.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!

Allen

Congratulations! Any tips on how you aced the PEI and cases? Thanks

Congratulations! Any tips on how you aced the PEI and cases? Thanks

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

Please feel free to PM to get some Excel resources :)

Good luck in the new job

Best,

Clara

Hello!

Please feel free to PM to get some Excel resources :)

Good luck in the new job

Best,

Clara

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Hi A,

I agree with Guennael. If I were, I would prioritize excel and communication skills at an associate/BA-levels.

It is important to mention that you will have an induction week, during which you will practice all required skills.

What’s more, you will learn a lot on the job. Don’t afraid to ask questions, colleagues will be always happy to help you and suggest a more effective way of doing things. Once you know it, you can google it and that’s it.

All the best,

Egor

Hi A,

I agree with Guennael. If I were, I would prioritize excel and communication skills at an associate/BA-levels.

It is important to mention that you will have an induction week, during which you will practice all required skills.

What’s more, you will learn a lot on the job. Don’t afraid to ask questions, colleagues will be always happy to help you and suggest a more effective way of doing things. Once you know it, you can google it and that’s it.

All the best,

Egor

*offer

*consultant

You belong in BCG

*offer

*consultant

You belong in BCG

And if you're not already a member: Get those frequent flyer programs :-D

And if you're not already a member: Get those frequent flyer programs :-D

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