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Preparing for an entry level role in Consulting

entry level London resources Tier 2 Offer
New answer on Apr 09, 2024
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 23, 2024

I’ve received an offer to join a tier 2 consulting firm in London as an entry level Consultant (think OW, EY-P, RB, Strategy&, ATK etc). In order to fully prepare myself for this role, do you recommend any resources that I can use? Or things to know in general (example, excel and PowerPoint functions etc). 

Note: This will be my first job after graduating so I’m not familiar with what is expected from me before starting.


Thanks for the help!

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Best answer
Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 23, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer! In terms of your question:

Q: I’ve received an offer to join a tier 2 consulting firm. So you recommend any resources that I can use? Or things to know in general

I would recommend to consider the following.

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IT TOOLS

You are probably fine with Excel and PowerPoint, if not you can take a quick course to review the basics. You can check in advance with your office if they recommend training on any other tool, such as Alteryx or Tableau and if so, do some prep on that.

One of the most important things you can learn with any IT tool is shortcuts – they will increase substantially your productivity.

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INDUSTRIES

If your office specializes in specific industries where you would like to work, it would be good to get a minimum knowledge of them in advance. You will still learn the most during the job so this is not strictly necessary.

You can find some tips on recent consulting trends here:

 11 New Consulting Trends You Should Know

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READING LIST

A good way to invest your extra time before starting is to… read. You probably won’t have much time to do this later and reading can help you substantially to accelerate your personal growth.

Personally I don’t have much time to read, so I listen to books – Audible is great for this. You can easily listen to a book per week with minimum effort. You absorb books differently when you listen, so you have to check if this works for you.

The following are some books I would highly recommend to develop a growth mindset – key in any industry with high pressure. You can expand the list with anything you want to learn – just try to find a few really good books on that topic.

  • 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)
  • The Gap and the Gain – Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy (excellent book in terms of mindset for happiness)

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FIRST WEEKS

Below you can also find some tips for the first weeks I usually recommend – you are probably familiar with most of them, but it might be useful to review the list just in case:

  1. Take notes during meetings/discussions with your manager – this will help you to remember details and will show the team that you care.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important when you join a new company: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you will create a good reputation. 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. You want to identify the most important activities and prioritize them, applying the 80-20 rule. Align with your manager to define them at the start of the project whenever possible.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term. Try to build connections in your first weeks with your peers to build a network.
  5. Align with your team on your private life activities. You might want to organize some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). 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 approachable and respectful to support staff – these people are generally great and influential in the company as well.

All the best for a great start!

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 23, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

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!

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First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook

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Second: 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

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

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Third: 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)

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Fourth: 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

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Dennis
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 23, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

congratulations on your offer. Of course, you will learn the most important things on the job. You should also enjoy the free time you have before your job starts as this will be stressful enough.

 But here are some things you can do in the meantime that will be useful:

  • follow news on publications of your new company
  • stay informed about the macro environment (economy, geopolitical topics, etc)
  • in case you already know that you will join a specific industry practice, monitor trends in that industry sector
  • familiarize yourself with key Excel functions (i.e. pivot tables, V-Lookup, index match)
  • familiarize yourself with the general PowerPoint functions and overall slide design - most companies will have their own PPT plug-in tools though that you will get training on once you join the firm. They also have their own templates and company standards for slides. So there is not really a significant headstart possible for you I would argue but you should know what a slide master is, where to find the alignment functions, how to insert graphs, etc.
  • read up on the concept of “executive communication”

Best of luck

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Florian
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 25, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hey there,

Congrats!

Most people who start in consulting feel the same way and are not sure what to expect/how to prepare.

For exactly that reason I wrote a book called Consulting Career Secrets (you can find it on Amazon). It details how to get a great entry, build your career and profile early, AND make sure you are not burning out in the process.

I have also recorded a session for PrepLounge here on the topic of work-life balance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VK8wL_xsmQ&t=9s&pp=ygUKcHJlcGxvdW5nZQ%3D%3D

A bit more context:

When I got the offer some years ago I did the same. I reached out to people I knew in McKinsey and people who interviewed me to ask: what can I do to make the start easier? how can I prepare?

The answer from everyone was: Relax! Enjoy your time before you start and don't think about it. You will figure it out on the job. I followed that advice and it made sense to me once I joined.

When you start in consulting there are 2 ways to learn:

  1. Formal training. The formal training sessions/ weeks/ days in the beginning, are nice, however, they are more for networking and meeting your peers. You learn some interesting concepts and get some useful tips from more experienced consultants BUT
  2. Constant and implicit learning on the job is where it's at. No matter if you are a newcomer or a veteran after 2 years, you will always find yourself on a steep learning curve. As soon as you barely mastered one skill or the skills needed for one level in the hierarchy, you will take care of things, which are expected from a more senior colleague. This cycle never ends. You are expected to learn on the job, and learn from your colleagues, your mentors, and sometimes even the client. So basically a newly promoted Engagement Manager has the same 'struggle' as a new-hire Business Analyst. They both need to work in a completely new environment and role.

Knowing that, if we now go back to square one in your consulting journey it makes perfect sense to enter the firm with almost a fully blank slate with a lot of curiosity and eagerness to soak it all up and quickly learn the ropes.

In truth, no book, no training, and no coach can fully prepare you for your first day, your first week, your first engagement. Nothing matches the experience and the learning and this is a good thing (also the reason why ex-consultants are valued highly in the job market).

Yet, there are certain things you can do before you start and after to make the transition and first months smoother.

What helps in this journey is to know 

  • what to expect in terms of requirements, work hours, stress levels, travel, staffing, and logistics (helps with your nerves and expectation management)
  • what to take care of and buy before you start (as you will have very little time to do so afterward)
  • what skills you need to display and how to display/acquire them as well as what traits are perceived well and evaluated in your constant performance evaluations (helps you shine early on and know where to put the focus)
  • what ways can help you keep the stress levels acceptable (if you don't tackle this early, it's tricky to reverse later on)

Once you know how to prepare and act, it will be easier to learn everything you need to master while doing it. You will be thrown in the cold water and need to swim many times.

However, your colleagues will always be happy to help you and mentor you. And for the rest, you will figure everything out along the way. The key here is always to ask for tips, shortcuts, feedback, etc. Don't be quiet if you get stuck.

Lastly, if you have no domain knowledge about a certain industry or topic, read through the internal library of documentation and call some of the firm experts on the topic. Usually, they are happy to offer you a short call to get you up to speed.

Enjoy the ride!

Cheers,

Florian

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crawldim on Mar 25, 2024

This is dependent upon the manner in which the hiring procedure is set up (e.g., rolling admissions or a set deadline happy wheels). When you receive the invitation, it's wise to get in touch with HR and ask if there's a way to postpone. In the worst case scenario, they might tell you there isn't.

Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 23, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Powerpoint and Excel are the bread and butter of consulting. You will need to know how to use these tools well and fast.

Let me be clear: there is no ammount of previous training that can compare with working 100's of hours on these tools working on real problems (if you work 40hours per week in PPT, after 3 months you have 500h of practice…).

Of course when you train a certain tool, it's more about knowing the possibilities and trying them once so that if later on you have a specific problem, you know there's a tool for that and know how to look it up (even yesterday I used a new tool in excel… after 15 years in consulting…. and it took me 5 mins to learn because I already know it existed, it's name, etc.).

I wouldn't bother with anything else. Read the (business) news, if English is not your native language… then practice (you will need it a lot, for both slide writing, research, international assignments, and international experts interviews).

Finally, make sure you are healthy and fit (and dont have a sleep deficit).

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 25, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach
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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 09, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the offer!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • First of all, while it is great to see how eager you are to prepare for your career start, I would highly advise you not to worry about it.
  • Your future employer, like all major strategy consulting firms, will provide you with excellent onboarding and training that will prepare you for everything you need to know.
  • Lastly, if you want to prepare on your own, I would advise you to improve your MS Excel and PowerPoint skills. While there may be company-specific functions, you will still be faster in the first few months with some practice.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best practice your MS Excel and PowerPoint skills beforehand, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 31, 2024
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Enjoy your time. You'll learn everything you need to learn on the job.

I took 3 months off before starting my first job at ATK, and I wished I had taken 6 instead :)

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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