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The moment of truth

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The moment of truth is here.

For those of you that have applied to do an MBA at LBS in Stage 2.

But also for those of us MBAs that are recruiting for the Summer Internship positions.

You interview, we interview.

Let’s talk about you first.

The second round is the one with the highest number of applicants (I myself applied on Round 2, just one year ago). You will soon know whether you are invited to an interview. And then what?

Well, someone that was in your shoes several years ago and that has something in common with you (country of origin, background, etc) will interview you. At LBS only Alumni interview you. And I think it’s great because in my case I didn’t know much people that had been at LBS before so it was a good opportunity to get a feel (with a sample of 1, I know) of who goes to LBS and which sort of career paths they get after. So make the most of it and ask about their story.

Key insight: With your application, they know a lot about your background, your achievements, your academic track record. The essays give them a feel for the type of person you are. There is one KEY question they want to answer in the interview, though: WHO are you really? And would you be the sort of person that would be nice to work with? Are you fun, interesting, engaging, open or are you immensely clever yet equally arrogant and closed?

Best advice I can give you? Be yourself and share YOUR story.

And if you want to know what life is like at LBS or what the moment of truth is for us, let me describe what January looked like.

5th January to 9th January: Corporate Partner Week. There are no classes. Just presentations of companies. McKinsey, Bain, BCG, ATKearney, Monitor, Roland Berger, Strategy& were there from consulting. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Nomura, Barclays, JP Morgan, Capital Group, Credit Suisse, Citi, Deutsche came from Banking.

The classes start on the 12th January. But the recruiting doesn’t stop. On the contrary. The list of company presentations continues throughout the month: Vodafone, Ebay, Facebook, Linkedin, Amazon, BT, American Express, Thomson Reuters, J&J, GSK, Google, LEK,Microsoft, L’Oreal … Even the Cabinet Office!

I have not followed all the different recruiting process because I was only interested in Strategy Consulting,but just to give you a feel I will describe the timeline for the MBB process (McKinsey, Bain, BCG):

Week 1: Company presentations. Applications at the weekend.

Week 2/3: Confirmation of invitation to interview.

Week 4: Interview 1st round. Interview Final Round in some cases.

Week 5. Some other Final rounds. Decisions (that’s today). If successful, special weekend prepared for all those with an offer.

Week 6: Some more 1st Rounds & Final Rounds.

So the moment of truth comes and goes very fast…

My key takeaways on it:

Being on a top school like LBS is KEY. Let me highlight it again. It’s KEY. Why?

  • Access to recruiters: The recruiters come on campus, have a relationship with the school, and have special recruitment channels (even a special webpage) for your school. I received e-mails from the big three even before applying inviting me to events because they had seen my CV in the CV School Book. The fact that the school has a relationship with them and the recruiter considers the school a target means they arrange coffee chats, they regularly come on campus,etc., which for you means you can visit their offices, meet some of their staff, do networking and get a much better picture of who they are. Don’t get me wrong. The competition is hard. There might be 200 applications from LBS and only 10 will get an offer for the summer so it’s a very competitive process but at least it’s 10! If it was in another school, maybe no-one or maximum 1. Imagine how much harder it is to get visibility if you are not here!
  • Support during prep: There is a significant proportion of students interested in the same things than you so the career services, the students from the year before, professionals coming from the area you are interested in help you prepare with case interviews and mock interviews.

Be ready for it.

But first things first and one step at a time.

Your moment of truth comes first so focus on that.

Good luck with your interviews!

 

 

 

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I am staying focused. Like a monk trained in on his breathe exhaling, or perhaps, more apt, the athlete envisioning his actions before the big game. I iron my shirt; cotton press, a squirt of water to rid that stubborn crease. I select my tie; yellow with a confident red stripe, tied in a half Windsor. I place my cufflinks through their holes, the right first, then the left; a pair of silver foxes. I slip my arms through the jacket sleeves. Check. Looking good. It’s winter; I choose a grey striped scarf and wrap it around my neck. Good. I grab my coat and throw my satchel over my shoulder. I hear the door shut as I leave the house. I briefly look down at my shoes; freshly polished. I then turn my head up and walk towards my interview… and my destiny.

I can almost see this playing out as a video montage set to Eye of the Tiger. That, or a stand in for the American Psycho intro. But the former sounds much better.

The preparation is now complete. Many hours were toiled away in the first term refining the CV to stand out and succinctly convey our best qualities. We were assisted with the experience of the second year students both formally through the Peer Leadership Programme and informally over cup of coffees. Career Services reviewed them too and then followed up with drop in sessions to complete the tailoring to near perfection.

The cover letters came next. Picking our skills and attributes that would define us as being unique. Carefully tailoring each to specify why we so desired to work for that particular company. The irony was lost somewhere around Christmas that every company we applied to was the company we most wished to work for. Again, the second years and Career Services assisted. This time too, we had the company presentations to rely on. Each telling us why they were different from all their competitors – each stating the same or similar reasons to their competitors.

With these company presentations came the opportunity to network. To meet real flesh and blood employees. Perhaps with the hope of making that impression that could land you an interview job, or at the very least, some additional information to further make that cover letter stand out.

And finally, the interview preparation. Many hours hidden away in the recesses of the library or study rooms, making sure we knew our finest achievements, the best examples of leadership and teamwork, and crushing cases that may be thrown at us. Second years grilled us with difficult questions, career services advised us and ran various workshops, our classmates rallied questions back and forth as practice.

But now, all that preparation is over. I walk into the office. I greet the receptionist. I wait, and then greet the HR representative. I enter the den. There is nothing left separating me from the battle with the beast. The interviewer enters. The door closes. It all begins here.

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I’m now four from eight.

That first email that comes through offering you an interview is an incredible confidence boost. You finally realize that firms don’t all start their emails with “Thank you for your application. However…” Your foot is in the door, quite literally in some cases when firms host interviews at their offices. But again, a reality check quickly follows. Afterall, this is only a foot in the door; we’ve been reminded numerous times that this is only the first step along a tough and merciless road (nevertheless, a significant step, that could, I feel, be measured in comparable size to those taken by Neil Armstrong). We’ve been culled down to a select few for the first interview. Following that an even more ruthless cut will ensue, succeeded by a minority who are left standing at the end. It sounds like something even Gordon Gekko would be challenged at.

A series of interviews now face me. But what does a consulting interview comprise of? The core is the case problem. These usually start with the premise that the CEO has asked for your advice to solve their problem, whether that be falling profits, market entry, a potential merger, or some other scenario. Your role, no, your duty, is to identify the crux of the issue and resolve it in the short space of 30 minutes or so.

So how does an MBA student prepare when one has succeeded at making it to this first round? Thankfully, it is not too hard, it just requires persistence. You must first turn your head and open your eyes to see all the hopeful study partners all around. I am immensely appreciative for the collaborative and constructive help of my fellow classmates. They, like you, are wanting to succeed. And perhaps in the most illustrative example of a ‘win-win’ scenario, you buddy up and test each other on sample cases. And you do this until you are verging on being repulsed by their company and constructive feedback. You wonder if you even want to be a consultant after you have long forgotten and given up counting the number of cases you have burned through. In these weeks of recruitment you will see the best and worst of your classmates – the built up pressure and stress in their frayed nerves and short tempers, the highs from crushing a case, the lows from screwing up the maths worse than their thirteen year-old cousin. Don’t forget, they see the same in you.

And through all this, you strengthen those connections with your classmates; an incredibly perverse bonding experience.

Now bring it on.

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Life during OCR

Posted by: Carolina

The start of the year signals the beginning of the On Campus Recruiting (‘OCR’) period for MBA summer internships. We returned from the year-end break to face Corporate Partners week – a week fuelled with companies’ presentations, mostly in investment banking and consultancy.

The agenda was hectic and pretty soon completing application forms by the tight deadlines seemed overwhelming for some. But submitting applications was nothing in comparison to the interviewing. The favourite (and sometimes only) topic of conversation in and out of campus during January and February was interviews: how many have you got? What company? What did they ask you? Have you heard back?

It was like a collective obsession that took over us.

We are in mid February now and the interview pipeline has started to dry up for those in banking and consulting. By now, some of us have already accepted offers and stopped interviewing; others are still in the search. For all of us, life in campus has started to feel more normal.

So after attending almost all presentations, filling many application forms and doing my round of interviews, this is my advice:
- Start preparing early. You might think it’s a cliché… Seriously, just do it! Things like cover letters can be drafted in advance and refined after attending the company’s presentation. Same goes for online application forms in which you can start filling in your details.
- Do as many mock interviews as you can, but do leave sometime between sessions to take in the advice you are given and polish your technique.
- Ask the second years because they have been through OCR before and are extremely helpful, especially in sharing tips.
- Don’t forget that your CV is your most powerful tool. But if you are a career switcher you will need to do more networking than someone who already has experience in the area.
- Don’t panic! There’s always that technical question that you didn’t know and that fit question in which you could have used a stronger example. Yes, perhaps you could have done better but don’t despair. Learn from the experience and move on.

It was a tough month for me – more like an emotional roller-coaster, but my hard work paid off, and now OCR seems like a distant memory of a time in which I learnt a lot about myself and my classmates. The challenge doesn’t end here… bring the summer internship on!

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