First person: how I got hired as an intern at The Boston Consulting Group
Aidan Devane is an associate at The Boston Consulting Group. He completed a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge, and was offered a full-time position after an internship at the firm.
You have to be capable, quantitatively and qualitatively, but you also have to be fairly confident.
Why do you think you were successful in applying for an internship?
I think it was probably a mixture of a few things. You have to be capable, quantitatively and qualitatively, but you also have to be fairly confident. If you sound sure of what you are saying, it comes across well in an interview.
What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?
The whole process is quite challenging, with a lot of interviews – I think I had about six! But they are also very informative. During one of them I ended up having an interesting chat about psychology with the interviewers.
What sort of training did you receive?
The internship included one week of local training, which was similar to that provided for the full-time role.
Did you work on a specific project?
Yes, a project in retail. It involved working on a client’s supply chain, and I was given responsibility for one particular supplier.
What sort of support did you receive?
I was allocated a buddy who would check how I was getting on, meet me for coffee etc. Again this was very similar to the buddy support you receive when you start a full-time role. There was also on-going support from the summer internship programme team.
Were you given regular feedback?
Yes. The project leader would let me know how I was getting on, and generally give me tips as to how I could improve – this was really valuable.
What skills did your internship equip you with?
It’s a great kick-start for the real job; the internship really helps to build your confidence ahead of starting full time. For example, BCG has many useful tools and macros in PowerPoint and Excel that save time, but it can take a while to learn how to use them properly – the internship allows you time to learn these.
Did you learn anything about consulting that surprised you during the internship?
The people are really nice! That sounds odd, but I have to admit that part of me expected it to be full of stereotypical ‘city job, banker’ types, so I was pleasantly surprised that actually everyone here cares about people, as well as the work they do.
What advice would you give to graduates looking for consulting internships?
Apply to as many as possible. The case interviews take practice and there's no better practice than the actual thing. Also, they're really good fun. And when you’ve started the internship the firms are still trying to recruit you to some extent so they tend to put on helpful events for you and the other interns to attend. These events also give you a chance to meet lots of people from the firm, at all levels.
What advice would you give to interns who hope to receive a job offer at the end of their internship?
Take some time off after graduating. I took about six months, but other interns took more. Remember you'll be working for most of the rest of your life, so if you can, it's a good time to do something non-work related for a bit!