Special edition of The MECE Muse Unplugged to kick off September’s Welcome Back to Campus Series, an episode designed to provide college students an orientation to the podcast show.
Christie shares highlights of upcoming episodes for the next month, all covering topics undergraduate or graduate college students interested in consulting would find valuable. Episode topics include interview case preparation, from internships to a full-time consulting offer, mindset of a recruiter, and college admissions coaching services.
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This episode is special. I’m going to dub it my Welcome Back to Campus Series. We’re going to highlight specific shows and talk about topics that are helpful for all of my undergrad and graduate go- getters out there. For all of my go-getters that are in school, you may have been coming back from your vacations, internships, maybe hung out at home during all summer, why don’t you get up to speed with our podcast show? I wanted to make sure that you are aware of this invaluable resource that was created.
I created the podcast show specifically with all of my college go-getters in mind, thinking about going into consulting, and trying to figure out what that specifically means. I talk a lot on the show to people that are new to consulting, that are starting their career, or experienced hires wanting to go back into a different career and that’s consulting either as a freelancer or joining a firm. I cover a lot of different targeted listeners. For this episode is focused on my college go-getter, give you an orientation to what we’re doing here, and how you can get connected. I’m going to highlight three things. One, is to get you acclimated with a couple of episodes. You should it check out while you are getting acclimated to what we are offering. Two, I wanted to discuss the MECE Mentoring Moment. That was a new segment that we introduced in the show. Three, I wanted it to preview what’s to come. We’ve got five episodes that are on their way. I’ll talk about the first three.
Let’s get started with getting acclimated to this show. If this is your first time listening, I highly suggest you check out episode one. I laid out the framework and the foundation of my story in consulting and what got me started on this path. I then shared a little bit about what I call the MECE Muse story. I shared that in episode two. Episodes one and two were a ground-setting context information to share. You can go from there and fast forward.
If you want to get CliffsNotes of all the episodes I’ve done to date, I highly recommend you check out episode ten. In episode ten, I highlight all the episodes we’ve done and previewed a couple that we were going to be doing. For our first set of episodes to kick off the back to school campus, there are two of them we’ve already done. I’m going to highlight episode six where we got a chance to connect with Xuan. She is a recent PhD student, has just graduated, and looking to get into consulting. She shared a little bit of her journey.
“If understood it correctly, we all share some basic proficiency in terms of being able to structure a problem, being able to solve it, but what truly takes candidate from good to outstanding is the ability to be innovative, to show all her unique personality and do that and articulate that in a compelling way. Is that correct?
There’s innovative to compelling, but also simple. There’s a lot of power in being able to take something that’s very complex and being able to simplify it, to find ways that you’re able to talk about a business problem, like laying in terms. That also can come off compelling because, people don’t have to try to interpret or understand what you’re saying as much when you’re using more common language. Sometimes the candidates get so caught up in using these big fancy words that may not resonate. Knowing the fancy words is one thing, but knowing when to use them as another. Being able to have that professional maturity can make a candidate sign.”
In episode thirteen, I got a chance to connect with Michaela. We had a Crossroads interview. In Crossroads, we get a chance to discuss someone coming in or out of consulting and have a conversation about that. In this episode, Michaela just got her first consulting job offer. I got a chance to share things she should be considering for her first role, but she also shares her recruiting story and how she differentiated her candidacy.
“You mentioned earlier about case interviews. What were some of the things that you did to prepare that you felt really helped you differentiate your candidacy versus others?”
“I was purposeful. I knew that there were certain elements and boxes that I needed to check. It’s not just one thing. All of these things are absolutely necessary. It was the case prep, the networking, the internal experience, the external experience, and the general biotech news, and I’ll go through each of these. For the case prep, I started probably about six months ago doing a case a week with our local case practice group.”
I want to talk about a second point of this orientation. We decided to introduce a podcast interlude segment called MECE Mentoring Moments. We started getting fan mail. You get the support, which is amazing, but the fact that we started getting fan mail and people started sending us questions has been awesome. When people ask me for advice, I like to give them advice when they need it just in time. I struggled with the idea of answering just one person’s email, so I came up with this interlude idea.
When I get any fan mail with a question that I need to respond to, I record the question. It’s impromptu. I don’t include any music or any type of reading. I just read the email and respond the best way that I could to that fan mail. Those episodes are usually ten minutes or less. When you hear the MECE Mentoring Moments, know that those are quick sound bites to answer fan mail. If you have questions or want to run a dilemma or think an idea through, drop us a line at MECEMuseUnplugged@Gmail.com. I’m happy to answer your question during our MECE Mentoring Moments.
My third point that I wanted to cover is we’ve got three special episodes that I want you to listen to as part of this Welcome Back to Campus Series. For episode sixteen, I got a chance to connect with Destin Whitehurst, one of the co-founders of ConsultingInterviewCoach.com. It’s a great organization that he has created. We worked at the same consulting firm several years ago. I was excited that I got a chance to meet him through his organization. It was a Quick Wins interview where we get a chance to connect about our product or service that people should consider as adding to their toolkit. His service definitely fits that bill.
“If someone is interested in your services either as a new consultant or deciding that they want to transition to another firm and they need a little bit of support with interviewing, tell us a little bit about the process of how you have clients for your consulting interview coaching services.”
“About a third of our clients are undergraduates, about a third is our MBA’s, about a third are professionals looking to pivot. They find us from a variety of sources. We offer first a trial interview for folks that are interested in getting a baseline of where their skills are, what our assessment of their development areas are, and to get a taste of how we go about our coaching. We then move into the service component where either working with one coach or a variety of coaches who are communicating amongst themselves to share the progress of a given candidate. They are working on one-hour sessions, so either fit or case practice. It’s tailored exactly to the key firms that the individual’s recruiting for.”
In episode seventeen, I had a chance to do a Crossroads interview again. Crossroads are people coming in or out of consulting and having a conversation. I got a chance to connect with Briana. Briana was a second year intern. She had a chance to do a couple of internships and got her first consulting offer as a result of her internships. In our interview, she shared a little bit about her journey, the things she learned about in her internship experience, and gives advice to another intern that I had met with that did not get a consulting offer and wanted to know what the next steps are.
“How did you feel the moment that you got it? Did they give you hints that you’re going get the offer or did they leave you in the dark? Give us a little bit of when you first found out.”
“Your team gives you hints. They’re like, ‘You’re here again next summer.’ You never really know. I’ve heard people who had amazing feedbacks throughout their internships and have not received offers just because some places are so competitive. Even though I was getting that positive feedback, I wasn’t certain of it. When I got the offer, I was definitely like jumping up and down, so excited because it’s so amazing to have something secure before you’re even done with school. That’s the scary part, not knowing what comes next.”
In episode eighteen, I decided to do another Quick Wins interview, and I got a chance to connect with a campus recruiter. One of the things that I hear a lot from college students is they want to understand the recruiting process and sometimes, de-mystify that. There are a lot of perceptions and misconceptions out there. I was very fortunate to connect with Sammi who has spent many years helping recruit future consultants from campuses. It was perfect to give you a chance to hear directly from recruiters what they’re thinking during a candidate process.
“The first question I’m thinking of is going back to the application piece. I’ve heard from younger consultants or people that are looking to go into consulting. They’ll say, ‘I’ll go online, and I’ll read a job description. Sometimes, there’s ten requirements on there, but I probably have seven of them. They’re looking for someone with eight to ten years of X type of experience. I don’t have eight to ten. I have maybe four or five.’ For people like that, when you talked about the standout pile versus the red flags, do you think they have a shot in a particular role if they don’t nail the requirements that you’re looking for?”
“A lot of times, you’ll probably notice in those job descriptions that they’re very broad and pretty much anyone could think, ‘I could do the majority of what’s listed there,’ because we know we can look for a lot of different. As you’re getting to know the team or the folks in the interviews, they can then say, ‘This person would be a better fit for X, Y, Z based on their skill set and background.’ I would encourage that person to definitely apply. That one posting that you see is eight to ten years, maybe they also have a position that’s more the four to seven-year range not posted yet.
When they see your resume or meet you, they would think, ‘We filled this other role without even trying.’ While it’s not necessarily a guarantee, because sometimes those requirements are there on purpose and we really need someone legally to have a certain amount of years of experience, never let that discourage you from applying because you never know what might be coming in our pipeline or our queue of other opportunities that we might be able to match you with even though it might not be the exact one that you applied for.”
For episode nineteen, I had the outmost pleasure of connecting with Kofi Kankam. He is the Co-Founder of AdmitAdvantage.com, as well as the founder of Admit.Me. Three fun facts that I loved about the conversation I had with him is one, he is a former consultant himself. He started on the path of consulting and decided that he wanted to go and venture into more of an entrepreneurial space. Two, he has had the privilege of attending some of the top schools in the world, such as Harvard and Wharton. Three, he has spent a decade or so as a serial entrepreneur with a laser focus on helping go-getters get admitted into the top schools in the world.
With our conversation, he honed in on some things that you, as a graduate or undergraduate go-getters, can do to secure a consulting role. He also shared some guidance for consultants that may be at a crossroad seeking to make a pivot into a top B school.
“In my day-to-day, I speak to a lot of younger consultants that are always coming at crossroads. They’re either thinking about doing something similar to you, following their passion and going out into entrepreneurship, or they’re thinking about going to B school or doing further higher education piece of it. Given what you’ve been doing in the admissions coaching space, what would you say is some of the common pitfalls you may see with someone’s admissions application or the journey of how they get into school, especially if they are coming with a consulting background? What would be some advice you would give to a younger consultant that maybe thinking about going into Wharton or Harvard or another business school given that they’ve had that consulting background? What would you say to them?”
“Firstly, your job performance is really important. A lot of times, people are so focused on the next step, like what’s after working, especially if they want to make the decision to go to school. They’re not focused on the here and now and doing a good job. That can have huge impact in terms of their application because maybe they don’t get promoted as quickly. Maybe their potential professional recommendation, which pretty much has to be from your boss, maybe he or she sees a drop off in your performance. People think it’s all about your grades, but the recommendations are hugely important.
I’ve seen recommendations from some of these people’s bosses and the people have literally said in the recommendations that they started well and they’re good, but they’re not as good as they used to be. That’s a huge issue in terms of people losing focus of where they are right now. Secondarily, a lot of times people, consultants especially, are so worried about the fact that other consultants from their firm and from the firm’s office, their specific office maybe applying to school, they’re so focused on that being the only linchpin to getting in. They avoid letting it up so the personal motivations going the school, personal motivations for wanting to start a company, things they do outside of work in terms of showcasing high level of leadership and showcasing an ability to leverage with education to help other people, these are things that schools are maniacally focused on.”
That wraps up our Welcome Back to Campus episode. Please check out these episodes that I mentioned. I will be looking forward to getting emails. Drop us a line at MECEMuseUnplugged@Gmail.com. Have a great day and have and have an amazing school year. I look forward to connecting with you all in the future. Thanks for tuning in and here’s your journey to greatness.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This pop-up podcast was inspired by my book, The MECE Muse: 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants. I have people ask me over the last year many questions about this, but one question that comes up constantly is, “Christie, you have such a demanding career. How did you find time to write this book?”The answer is simple. I sought to become the mentor that I wish I had earlier in my career. In the beginning of my career, I didn’t have many mentors, mental maps of what success really looks like. I struggled with that in a lot of different ways. What’s nice about struggles is that I overcame them. I grew stronger, more competent, and I’m so excited where I am today in my career. I want to share what I’ve learned and be able to help you.
I wrote the book with my years of experience, but I also had an amazing opportunity to connect with over 50 or so consulting partners and leaders across the industry, sharing their stories, their antidotes, their resources on how you can be a great consultant yourself. Do me a favor. Pick up your phone right now. Go to www.MECEMuse.com. If you scroll down, you’ll see a little box to sign up for the book. Go ahead and sign up for it. I’d love to hear your feedback on my book as well as the podcast. Thanks again for listening. Here’s to your journey to greatness.
Links from today’s episode: