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Taking annual leave during a strategy consulting internship (UK)

internship strategyconsulting tier2
New answer on Apr 16, 2024
9 Answers
222 Views
Anonymous A asked on Mar 18, 2024

Hi,

I currently hold an offer for an 8 week internship at a Tier 2 strategy consulting firm in London. In my contract, it says that I am eligible for 4 days of annual leave. I am also hoping to represent my university at an international competition abroad, which would take up those 4 days. However, I also want to maximise my chances of getting a return offer. Would taking 4 days of annual leave for this reason likely impact my chances?

Any advice would be appreciated!

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Iman
Expert
replied on Mar 21, 2024
Systemiq | Ex-BCG | 10 years experience with 8+ specialising in sustainability | Free Intro | Ex-PrepLounge candidate

Hi!

As you can see from the range of responses you've received, it's hard to say the approach the Manager/Staffing team will take if you requested this leave. 

You could be dealing with someone very relaxed who will recognise that you have holistic interests. You could equally come up against someone more old school who will see this as a sign that you're not committed. In a way, if you face the latter, you get a preview into what life will be like for you at this firm and you need to assess how important WLB and autonomy is to you. 

Having said that, you'll effectively be taking 12.5% off your short internship. I do think you will have more satisfaction if you stick around the whole time and stay focused. 8 weeks go by so quickly so you want to take all the opportunities to both learn and shine. In general, interns/newbies should focus on building skills, demonstrating reliability and gaining trust first and foremost. 

Are the dates of the competition fixed? Are the dates of the internship fixed? If the latter is not, see if you can start your internship earlier/later so that you don't have to trade off these 2 commitments.

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Pedro
Expert
updated an answer on Mar 18, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Let me be quite blunt. You have to consider what your priority is and how you are going to be perceived. 

If you are in the middle of a project and ask to be out for a few days to go into a competition, you are signaling that your priority is that competition and not the project. Well, consulting firms want you to prioritize their projects and clients. 

To be honest, they also want you to prioritize the firm, but the client comes first, and putting other stuff above their clients is not something they'll be happy about. If you are in the middle of a project, this would be perceived as a lack of commitment and a lack of project ownership.

Let me go a bit further. If you were a consultant in a project, would you book stuff in the middle of a project? I hope not. Between projects? Fine. You have to act as a (full time) consultant would.

On the other hand, this is different if you are not assigned to a client. In that case, this is something you can discuss with your mentor/manager. I would seek their advice. But still be cautious about this, since the firm would likely expect you to consider each week as an opportunity to show that you fit in. In other words, even this may raise an eyebrow… 

… you are saying that instead of working in a real case you want to go and work on a simulated case… that most people will use to improve their CV in order to get a job or intership in strategy consulting… this really sounds like the wrong priority. Maybe I am missing something, and if I am, then maybe you have a good case to ask for that leave.

P.S. The leave is there probably for legal reasons, or to give you the flexibility to miss a day if you really need to.

(edited)

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Anonymous A on Mar 18, 2024

Hey thank you for your response and that makes a lot of sense. My internship won't start for another 3-4 months so if I told them now do you think that would mitigate some the disruption to the project work, or would even asking them potentially be a red flag. I should have also clarified but the competition is not related to consulting, but is fairly well recognised. Thanks for your help! Ahmed

Pedro on Mar 18, 2024

Yes, flagging early is always a good idea. However, it will limit your staffing - unless you are doing this the last week of your internship, I don't think this is a great idea. My answer would be different for 1-2 days. 4 days is significant time off.

Pedro on Mar 18, 2024

Of course, you have to weight in how much this is important to you, and also how likely they are to recognize this as a viable reason to accept the time off.

Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 18, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

congrats on the internship offer. 

If you take your leave, you will effectively miss a week of your 8-week internship. Whether or not this will impact your chances for a return offer certainly also depends on when you will have to take that time off. 

Generally, I would think that the further down the line during your internship you take that leave, the less likely it is to negatively impact your chances - because you have had the chance to establish your standing at the company for some weeks and people will know you by then. On the flip side, if you leave very early during the internship, it might taint the first impression people get of you and they might question where your priorities lie.

If you want to maximize your chances with the consulting firm, I'd say do the 8 weeks internship without leave and give it your all. However, if the university competition is very important to you, so much so that you cannot miss it, then make sure you discuss the timing with HR early on so that they can figure out the best staffing setup for your internship in advance.

Best of luck

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Anonymous A on Mar 18, 2024

Hi, Thank you for your response. The week will be taken off towards the end of my internship (maybe week 6 or 7). Would you say that usually by this point most firms would have decided whether they want to extend a return offer or not? Thanks for your help!

Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 16, 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, it's important to communicate your plans as early as possible with your supervisor and/ or the HR department. Being upfront about your commitments shows professionalism and allows the team to plan accordingly.
  • Moreover, I would advise you to ensure that your performance before and after the leave is exceptional. This will help mitigate any potential concerns about your commitment or impact of the leave on your work.
  • Lastly, try to demonstrate the value of your external commitment to your professional development. Highlighting how representing your university at an international competition can enhance your skills might make your request more positively received.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

 

You can find the DACH consulting salaries report 2024 here!

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 18, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

The direct answer is that four days means pretty much a week out of eight, and if you were present during that week and performed well, that could increase your chances of getting a return offer. 

BUT

Don't lead your life like that. 

If you start making these tradeoffs now, you'll soon find yourself in the common challenge that consultants often face-the struggle to maintain a sustainable work-life balance. 

Remember, you have every right to attend the event and take those 4 days off. So, go ahead and make the most of it. 

Discuss with your team and HR in advance so they know that you want to take that time off. 

Think about this period as a moment to recharge and come back with fresh forces and perform even better. 

Don't second-guess yourself. 

Best,
Cristian

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 21, 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: Would taking 4 days of annual leave for this reason likely impact my chances?

In theory, this is something you could present to your manager. In practice, your manager might not have visibility of what will be the situation in the project at that moment. There is the risk that they will ask not to take the leave and focus on the job if they are under pressure, regardless of what they say initially. There is also the risk that this might give a negative first impression to your manager.

Given you cannot predict the situation of the project and you might have the risk of canceling your presence at the competition due to that and the risk of a bad impression, I would err on the side of sticking to the internship only.

If you would still like to participate, I would highly recommend aligning with your manager first, presenting the opportunity, and clarifying you want to prioritize the internship. However, keep in mind that even if they allow you to take the leave, they might need you on the project later on due to unexpected circumstances and ask not to go.

Best,

Francesco

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Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 19, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platftorms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

As with most things in life, the answer is: it depends!

In this case, mainly on the project situation.

I would play it openly and transparently with the team and collect their input.

If the team is coasting or in a good stage of a project it is more feasible and sensible than if you leave in a week right before the most important steerco meeting.

On the one hand, you want to make use of all the time you have to learn and also make a good impression. 8 weeks is extremely short.

On the other hand, if your personal commitment is important to you I see nothing wrong with stating that to the team and going for it (if the situation permits). After all, work is only just one part of life and many (unhappy) consultants often seem to forget this…

All the best,

Florian

 

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 18, 2024
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

The short answer is I would not recommend taking any days off from work unless of course you need to for important reasons. You only have a very short time to impress upon people your abilities and also your dedication to being a good employee. Taking 4 days off would not help with that impression, especially when it comes to giving out full time offers.

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 19, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Please don't take leave.

That uni competition is not as important as getting a return offer.

Yes, the annual leave WOULD 100% impact your chances.

Don't miss the forest for the trees here….

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Iman gave the best answer

Iman

Systemiq | Ex-BCG | 10 years experience with 8+ specialising in sustainability | Free Intro | Ex-PrepLounge candidate
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