Friday, May 29, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I have an internship with BCG secured.

I'll write about the experience once I've had some time to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

Tonight's Beatles tribute concert should help.

p.s. Finally I can start reading another book! I have gone over multiple sections of Case in Point way too many times.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quick Note on BCG II: The Revenge of the Case

BCG interview is tomorrow morning. I'm definitely nervous, especially after hitting a brick wall and falling apart during my last practice case. It was terrible!

I'll write up a summary of the experience sometime in the next week. I also intend to update the tips/steps I provided for handling case interviews a while back with some additional info that I've picked up via this round's practice and discussion.

Fingers are crossed that there will be a positive and uplifting post about all of this in the near future :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Housing status...denied!

I got an email today informing me that I was not cool enough (that's how I interpreted it) to live in McManus, the Kellogg private dorm.

Crap. That adds a very important item to my ever-growing To-Do list. Since I can't live inside of the Kellogg bubble (snuggie to some), I'll be searching for a place to live outside of said bubble. That should provide a nice retreat when I need to relax or focus on my studies.

On the plus side, I did finish the online Math Boot Camp, which is the longest of our pre-term online prep courses. I'm working on accounting next; I'm hoping it will be somewhat easy based on the things I've learned via my costly (-36% and floundering) interest in investing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comic Strip - IBM Badge


Comic Strip - IBM Badge, originally uploaded by oneillo.
Someone sent me this comic strip at work today, and I couldn't help but share it due to the IBM joke, which was both funny and somewhat accurate :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

BCG Round 1 Interview - Part 2

Here is the shocking conclusion to my interview recap.

The first interviewer came out, introduced himself, and then asked me to follow him back to the conference room. As we walked through the halls, I noticed that offices were generally shared by either 2 or 4 people. I later learned that BCG likes to place senior and junior consultants in the same office to facilitate skills development and mentoring. It took us a moment to find the right conference room, and once we went inside, I was blown away by the view of downtown Dallas. In skyline pictures of Dallas, you typically see a building that has windows lit to form an X on it, a la http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclochip/95613151/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikkyrikky/3326687176/. That building was right across from us.

We began with the "fit" portion of the interview, which was much more casual than expected. This was easily the strongest part of the interview for me, as I'm naturally very talkative, and it allowed me to relax my nerves. We discussed a few items from my resume, including my rugby experience, and then jumped into the case. Although I started out strong with the case, I felt myself getting scatterbrained as we progressed. At one point, I spent a few minutes on a table of data only to be told that I had misunderstood a bit of it. It was a simple mistake that didn't change my answer in any way, but it planted a small seed of doubt in my mind. That was enough to throw my concentration off. When it was time to present my recommendation via the "elevator pitch", I jumped right into it instead of taking a minute to organize my thoughts. Overall, I felt like I had given a "C" performance on the case. Afterward, I asked a few questions, and then we went over to the other conference room, where I swapped interviewers.

By this point, I was very relaxed. We breezed through the "fit" portion, again talking about a few items on the resume. It was very much like a conversation amongst friends. After 10 minutes or so, we went into the case. On this one, I was able to stick with the format that I described a few posts back, and it went swimmingly. I asked all of the right questions to get the necessary data, and this time, I analyzed it all correctly. At the end, I remembered to collect my thoughts and create a bullet list of key points before presenting my recommendations. We then went about 30 minutes over our time talking about miscellaneous grad school, consulting, and BCG topics.

I've asked all of the BCG folks that I've talked to if there are any classes that they recommend I take to prepare for consulting, and so far, I've gotten the same response from everyone. They've all said that there is no "standard template" for a good consultant, and that as long as you follow your interests, you should learn something valuable that can be applied to consulting.

The results are in

I haven't even finished recounting my round 1 interview experience with BCG, and I've already received the results.

I was sitting at my desk working on some requested enhancements to a Perl script that I own, when I looked over and noticed that I had missed a call. At first, I imagined that it was one of those annoying robocalls about my car insurance, but it was actually a BCG representative calling to talk to me about the results. I was surprised at the quick turnaround, and I feared that it meant the results were unfavorable.

I called back a few times and finally got a hold of the rep. I was bracing myself for the imminent let down, when she said "I have some great news".

I was invited to the 2nd (decision!) round interview at the end of the month.

Now I start studying and stressing out all over again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

BCG Round 1 Interview - Part 1

As promised, here is a rundown of my first round BCG interview.

I woke up at 4am on Friday morning to suit up, gather my padfolio, and head over to the airport. After a cup of coffee and short flight , I was at the Dallas-Love airport. It was 7:45am, and I had some time to kill, so I listened a few tunes on the Ipod. This also helped me calm my nerves a bit.

I arrived at the office in downtown Dallas around 8:20am. The interview wasn't until 9am, so I had yet more time to kill. Fortunately, the front receptionist had given me bio cards for my two interviewers. I looked over them for a while, noting that both of the interviewers had graduated from Harvard Business School. Shortly afterward, a member of the recruiting team came out, introduced herself, and gave me some additional materials about BCG. I read through the materials and then spent an unknown amount of time listening to the people passing by as they made small talk with each other and the receptionist.

I started texting and tweeting with my phone in order to keep myself distracted. I was in the middle of writing a tweet when another member of the recruiting team came out to talk to me. We exchanged pleasantries and she wished me the best of luck. I had already turned my phone off at this point out of fear that it would still find a way to make a sound in Silent mode in the middle of an interview, so I had no idea how much time was left until 9am.

A 2nd interviewee came shuffling in, grabbed his materials from the receptionist, and then took a seat in the waiting area. I thought I might be able to talk to him to pass the rest of the time, but he was too engrossed in the supplied bio cards. Fortunately, the interviewers came out a few minutes later, introduced themselves, and took each of us away to separate conference rooms to begin the interview process.

I'll post up the 2nd part in the next couple of days or so.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First MBA-related interview tomorrow

I'm flying out to the BCG Dallas office tomorrow morning for my first MBA-related interview. My hair is cut, suit is pressed, shoes will be shined tonight, and new padfolio, which is an overpriced leather folder, is prepped.

I've spent the past 9 days preparing for the interview whenever possible, though honestly, I've had a lot of other things going on during that period. In order to prepare, I picked up a couple of books, Vault.com Guide to Case Interviews 3rd Edition and Case In Point: 5th Edition, that I have been reading through. Of the two, I've spent the most time with Case In Point, which does a good job of identifying the different types of case questions that are typically given. Although I've read through the sample cases, I've found it more useful to think of how I would approach each case type in general if I were in that position. I think this will lead to more natural responses and give me more room to adapt versus relying on scripted responses.

For anyone interested in consulting, there is a basic structure for answering case problems that is recommended in the books and by BCG.
  1. As the interviewer reads the case, take notes (notes are your friend!). At the end, repeat back the case and objective(s) to verify that you understand everything correctly.
  2. Ask any clarifying questions that you may have. For example, if the case involves a product that you've never heard of, don't be afraid to ask what it is. They want to see that you are willing to ask questions and learn instead of make unnecessary/incorrect assumptions.
  3. Ask the interviewer "for a moment to collect your thoughts." Use this time to develop and write down a framework for analyzing the case. By framework, I don't mean something like 3Cs, 5Ps, or whatever they are called. This is something that you come up with to address the specific case.
  4. Show the framework to your interviewer and explain why you are using it.
  5. Follow your framework and begin asking the interviewer questions. This should be a 2-way discussion. Take notes of any key findings along the way and make sure that you are actively listening to their responses and reacting appropriately.
  6. At the end, be prepared to summarize your key findings and recommendations into an elevator pitch (60 seconds or so).
I am much more confident about my ability to handle case interviews now. This is due in large part to the help that I have received from current Kellogg students and from BCG. The company and its representatives have been very supportive and helpful throughout the entire process. I'm hoping that the BCG consultants I've talked to so far are the norm and not the exception, because if so, I am certain that I'd enjoy working with anyone in that company and in this field.

I'll have an update with how the interview went by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ten Days

Ten days. That is how long I have to prepare for an interview with BCG on the 15th at the Dallas office. Keep in mind that MBA students spend an entire semester networking with consulting firms, practicing case studies, learning basic business theories and principles, etc. Needless to say, I am a bit worried.

The interview is for the BCG Scholars Program, and if I'm successful, I'll come away with a $5K scholarship and an internship for summer 2010. I almost missed out on the program, since it wasn't mentioned in the admitted student's forum, and I didn't come across it during any of my scholarship searches. Fortunately, my Kellogg buddy sent me an email with information on the program last month (major hat tip to Guillermo for that lead). I immediately went to work on the application and essay and submitted both a week later. That was like the 40-somethingth essay that I've written since starting the MBA journey, and I'd love to say that they've gotten easier, but I still struggle with each one.

Yesterday, roughly one month later, I received the invitation to interview with BCG. I got the email late in the evening, and it is safe to say that it made my night. I called today to setup my travel arrangements for the interview with BCG's travel organization; they are totally paying for the flight and any related travel expenses, which is great, because I'm not doing a very good job of saving money at this point. Unfortunately, since I live so close to Dallas, I had to select an early morning flight (way too early) the day of the interview.

I've picked up 2 books to help me prepare for the case interview, Vault.com Guide to the Case Interview and Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation, and I've already started reading through them. I'll now spend the next 9 days studying, struggling through practice cases, and worrying about the interview. I'm a bit concerned about the fact that I don't have a business background (hence going to grad school), but I'm hopeful that I can still pull off a decent interview.

On a related note, I am extremely impressed with the opportunities that I have already encountered thanks to Kellogg. I wouldn't have even been able to apply for this program if I had gone with my other options. I am certain more than ever that I made the right choice.