Preparing for a new job + tips for starting well

entry level graduate
New answer on Feb 21, 2021
5 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Jan 19, 2021

Dear coaches,

I am starting a new job as a Graduate Trainee (I'll be rotated within several departments) at a big company in two weeks.

1. What would be your tips for preparing for a new job in that timeframe? From any point of view - mentally, skills etc.?

I bought an excel course even though I'm solid in it because I believe it is useful everywhere and you can always be more efficient in it...

2. What would be your top tips for adapting fast and doing well in the first few weeks / months?

Thanks !

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on your offer!

These are the tips I usually recommend for MBB prep:

  • 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 the keyword as much as possible 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 (classical on how to manage relationships)
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss (great negotiation book)
  • For mindset, some great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
    • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
    • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
    • The 80–20 Principle - Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
    • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)

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 (and in any industry in general): 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 (most likely also your new industry) 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 than 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,


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Content Creator
replied on Jan 19, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

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:


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

  • Pivottables
  • Working with data
  • Key fuctions (vlookup, Index match, count and sum if/ifs, sumproduct, concat, etc.)
  • Hotkeys (i.e. use keyboard more than your mouse)
  • Financial modeling

5) Powerpoint

  • Wireframing
  • Lead-in titles
  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in 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!

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 21, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

Congrats on your new job!

Additionally to what has already been said, I'd add:

The first couple of weeks are probably gonna be stressful for you. Here's what can help you prepare and go through them in a calmer way:

  • finish all your pending tasks (doctor appointments, burocracy, any house chores, meetings etc.) so they don't draw your attention away from work
  • take some good rest - do sports, go for walks, meet some friends (as long it is possible - COVID)
  • Once you started, create and follow a strict daily routine
  • at work, shoow yourself as curious, eager to learn from your colleagues and to make connections. Be open and friendly

In case you are looking for a coach/transition expert to be your guide, friend, sounding board, best practice advisor, feel free to get in touch with me. I have been a coach during the 'First 100 days in consulting role' for several candidates from PrepLounge who have made it to MBB. Happy to support you as well.

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Jan 20, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Congrats of that offer!

I agree with you, since ff there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials:

Microsoft Support:

Kubicle: (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Feb 21, 2021
Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 170+ coached over career |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]

Hi there,

Well done on the offer!

Looking back to when I started, I would say what would have served me in good stead would have been:

  • Excel shortcuts
  • Learning how to build a model
  • PowerPoint shortcuts and Horizontal/Vertical Logic (nice to have)

Excel: To get really good at Excel as consultants use it, approach it in terms of:

  1. Mechanics - use Excel quickly and efficiently
  2. Tools - learn the tools you will need
  3. Process - understand how to think about what you need it to do

1. Mechanics

  • Use the keyboard, only!
  • Learn the Alt Key shortcuts (type alt shows you all the shortcuts for accessing the toolbar)
  • Memorise the key ones - Shift + Arrow (select cells), Ctrl + Space (select column), Shift + Space (select row), Ctrl + Shift + +/- (add or remove Columns or rows)
  • Find more here:

2. Tools

  • The other answers have covered most of these - Lookups, Sum Ifs, Count Ifs, Sum Products, Index Match, Pivot Tables
  • This is good enough for 90% of what you will need to know

3. Processes

  • This is more around how do you think about how to build a model and run analysis
  • Instead of jumping straight into, consultants will spend time thinking about the structure of their model first
  • Ask friends in banking or consulting or those who were in the year above you at university, for examples of these - DM me if you want some examples
  • Also, running checks are super important - having checks throughout is commonplace in good models - if you show this when you join, you will be a step above most others in your class

Learning to Model: look at or trainthestreet. Learn about creating business case models and basic cash flow ones

PowerPoint: learn the keyboard shortcuts for commonly used functions - check out this video:



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Francesco gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching
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