This past semester I started with 21 consulting job interviews and in the end, I was left with 9 final round interviews, 3 of which that denied me, 3 that I personally rejected early and 3 that offered me jobs.
My story started a little over a year ago as a senior in college. A double major in Economics and English would allow me to… be a… umm… yeah that was the problem, I didn’t know. My roommate told me I should look into management consulting because he actually thought I’d be good at it. I didn’t even know what that was until I did some research 2 months before graduation and realized it was exactly what I was looking for.
It didn’t seem too late, I mean after all I hadn’t even graduated yet! The problem was that recruiting for the consulting industry started pretty early, generally a whole year prior. Fresh graduates had to interview about 9 to 12 months before they actually started. There are of course exceptions but for the most part, if you wanted to work for a top 50 consulting company, you had to interview early.
I couldn’t find many consulting companies looking to hire right away, again it was that “apply-9-months-early” thing getting in the way. Plus, I wasn’t that qualified, and had no internship or consulting experience! No wonder I only had about 3-5 interviews in total within my post-graduation period of eight months. I spent from August of when I graduated to March trying to find a consulting job. The good news is that I had a lot of time to work, doing what I liked, leading a non-profit organization and a lot of philanthropy work while I waited. I also studied consistently on how to interview, network and ultimately land that consulting job.
Flash-forward, March of 2011, I found the Illinois MSTM program. In essence, I needed to boost my candidacy. My Bachelors in Economics and English gave me a solid basis for understanding business fundamentals (i.e. Econ) for which I could communicate these ideas ‘effectively’ (i.e. with English) but where would my knowledge specialty be? The Master of Science in Technology Management program was just what was needed to complete my arsenal of consulting knowledge and bolster a strong candidacy for being a consultant.
Once admitted to the MSTM program, I successfully interviewed into a few more “resume building” opportunities: for IBC (Illinois Business Consulting, a student consulting club on campus), and as a Teaching Assistant for Business Administration 350. I felt more confident. I knew so much more about how to write a good consulting resume. Not only that, I had learned one fundamental thing to getting that first interview: to utilize effective networking tactics. I made sure I contacted at least 4-5 key people surrounding the decision making process, to ensure my name was out there even before any recruiting had started! This is how I spent my summer, reaching out to people and making sure that when fall came around they would know to expect me at their campus info sessions and outreach recruiting events that they held on campus. I’ve never worked so hard to be on top of this job-searching endeavor.
Where was this motivation coming from? Well, it was from a year of turmoil and rough times. A newfound inspiration was born out of understanding the urgency in following your passions. My roommate was right, I knew consulting was for me and I just hadn’t prepared myself adequately through my undergrad years to position myself for being a consultant. Securing that career meant that you worked hard to not only get that job but also to prepare yourself for that actual job.
Right now, I love school more than ever because I know that what I learn through the MSTM program will directly affect the decisions and thoughts I make in the work place. I will be working at Accenture after I graduate in May of 2012 in their IT Strategy and Transformation division of their Technology Consulting arm. Accenture is a world-renown consulting firm and I feel privileged to be a part of such a wonderful company. In retrospect, the turning point in my last couple years of job searching was matriculating into the MSTM program. Without it, I don’t think I would have been ready to be an IT strategy consultant. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten 21 interviews. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.