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Consulting Careers | Questions and Answers from PhD Students


[MUSIC] My name is Basil Hussain. I’m a PhD Candidate in
the School of Medicine, in the Department of
Molecular Biology and Genetics.>>I’m Helena Zec. I’m a Postdoc in Biomedical
Engineering, the School of Medicine.>>I’m Robert Hsiao, and I’m a PhD Candidate in
the Pharmacology department. [MUSIC]>>My story’s semi-unique,
I tried for two recruiting cycles. So my first recruiting cycle,
I interviewed at two firms and clearly I didn’t get through. And to be honest, I hadn’t put
in the effort or the legwork, it’s sorta just
something that I did. And then the next time,
I was quite dedicated to it. I joined consulting club,
got really involved, really prepared, practiced cases. And then the second time through, I
felt really good, really confident. I ended up getting five
interviews and got two offers, then I accepted an offer with Deloy
in strategy in operations in Boston, so that’s where I’ll be
next year in October.>>Yeah my story is very similar,
I tried for about a year. So I actually interviewed with
maybe 15 different companies, and got a lot of rejections
along the way. And recently, I took it
a little bit more seriously, like I joined the consulting club,
became director of communications, and really got to
network with folks. And get to know people, like these people that are very
experienced with consulting. And got three offers in like,
two weeks. So, I think its just practice and
perseverance.>>Yes.
[LAUGH]>>Yeah, I think Basil and Helena got pretty much all of it. Mine’s about the same
experience too. I think I applied last year
to also about 15 to 20 firms, including McKenzie, BCG and and
some smaller firms as well. And I think I got interviews
from all of them, and end up getting some offers
from Boutique Life Sciences. And then ended up getting
McKenzie’s offer, and once I got McKenzie’s offer I was like,
that’s the place I wanted to be in. I went ahead and
cancelled my other interviews. [MUSIC]>>I slightly negotiated. [LAUGH]
>>So having multiple offers helps you. If I only had one, I was just gonna
take it and jump on it because, I’m a Ph.D student and
what value do I actually have. Those are the things that
go through your head. But having another offer helped me
leverage them so it would, sort of, get some of the things
that I wanted. And I would encourage people
not to be hesitant to negotiate a little bit. You have this fear in your head,
they’re gonna pull to offer. And the truth is, you made it
through all the interviews, to the final round and chances are, they were able to
wiggle a little bit. So, I would encourage people to do
that not particularly scared by it.>>I did try to negotiate.>>[LAUGH]
>>First, I tried to get a higher salary and
they just said, we would never do that, so then I
tried to negotiate my relocation. I don’t know if my story is unique,
but my recruiter just fell of
the face of the earth. [LAUGH]
>>So I just had to sign the offer letter,
before she could get back to me. So, I tried.>>Well, my experience was
actually a little different. I think I’ve signed my contract
maybe two days after I got the offer letter? And I actually didn’t
negotiate my offer in any way. I think for numerous reasons,
but mainly two reasons. One is, the package itself
was already pretty good. So even if I negotiated let’s say
another, I won’t say the amount. But even if I negotiated it
wouldn’t make much of a difference. And secondly to me the assets
provided by the firm, the training and everything else was more
important than the money and stuff.>>Yeah.>>So that’s why.>>Yeah, I agree with that. [MUSIC] Sure you’re probably
got this earlier, but I think everyone who comes
here at Hopkins, do their PhD and they think they’re
gonna be a scientist. And I was in that boat as well. And I will tell you,
I would say year three or four, after you’ve been in
the lab long of enough, and you sort of get a feel for
what science is really about. That’s when I got the inkling that, there are lots of things about
science that I actually liked. But there were things
that I desired more. And so I wanted to work on
more structured projects over a finite amount of time,
and really have impact. And so I wanted to see somewhere I
could consolidate my PhD skills, and the things that I wanted and consulting something that
I fell into, and it fit. So that’s my story.>>Yeah, I would say the same thing. I definitely came in to the PhD, with every intention of becoming
a scientist or becoming faculty. But also after seeing
just funding rates so drastically decreased, and
watching people do post-docs for five or eight years, before they
even got a faculty position. I just kind of decided it wasn’t for
me, and I wanted to look in other careers. The one thing I love about science
is that, you get to be creative and very independent and
set your own schedule. But consulting is exciting, cuz you
maybe can shape the industry or really have a great start to
the early in your career.>>I actually,
again it’s a little bit different. Cuz I actually applied to grad
school and came into pharmacology program, thinking that I’m going to
industry right after graduation. So, I wasn’t really interested in being a bench scientist as
a career for my life, so. I heard about consulting my first
share but I really didn’t make up my mind until my third year, when I
attended the case competition. And actually, after attending a few
case competitions and doing some pro bono consulting projects, and
actually recently an internship. My motivation and dedication to
becoming consult, and actually become more and more strengthened
throughout each experience. And I think the fact that it’s fast
paced impact driven, challenging by very rewarding type of work,
those things are the things that really attracted me to [INAUDIBLE]
>>Can I say one more thing, and I think they’ll both agree with me. Coming here, one of the reasons I
came here is I wanted to work with talented, driven, smart people. And that’s not something that
I wanted to leave behind. So I wanted a really intellectually
stimulating environment, and I think when you look at consulting firms,
and the pedigrees that people have, and caliber of person
that is at these firms. I’m very happy to be going to
an intellectually stimulating environment. [MUSIC] The Consulting Club here at Hopkins, I would say is a very
strong Consulting Club. And I think, one of the real advantages of
joining a Consulting Club is, the first decision
you have to make is, is it something you’re
actually interested in. And so being part of the club
gives you a lot of opportunities. Whether it’s information
sessions from firms that recruit here at Hopkins. Or how to do interviews in
case interview workshops. Or pro-bono work that
Robert actually mentioned. It allows you to sort of dip
your toe into the pool and get a feel for,
if you actually like it. And once you make that decision,
I think things become more clear. Becomes a definitive path of
preparing for interviews, learning more about firms, and
really honing their skills.>>Yeah,
I would agree with what Basil said. I think when I started to become
more involved with the consulting club, I noticed a difference in how
I was also interviewing at firms. And just having networks with people
also helped going into interviews.>>Yeah, I think they they
got the important point, I think to emphasize even more I
think the exploration part is very important especially younger age
students I think in their first, second, and even third year they
generally spend time in exploring different career paths, before they
decide which one is right for them. Because it takes a long time for most people to get
one of these jobs. And so, you have to really make sure
that you’re really interested and motivated about this type of work, before you dedicate yourself
to preparing for it. And I think we might cover some
of the preparation steps after.>>I also think that
the thing that you did was, you interned with a few companies
which was really helpful.>>Yeah,
that definitely helped me decide. [MUSIC]>>One thing I would
like to emphasis is, when you’re a scientist and you’re
thinking of alternative career path. You’re nervous, and
apprehensive, and rightfully so because you’re doing something
you’ve never actually done. And I would say you’re more
valuable than you think you are, so have confidence in yourself. When I started thinking about this. I was, like, am I gonna be valuable,
why would they even hire me? But the point is that these firms
actually have dedicated recruiting staffs, to recruiting PHDs. So you are very valuable. So keep that in mind. And then beyond that I would say,
you have to practice cases for case interviews. I think it’s absolutely
necessary to do that. The good thing is it’s a learnable
skill, but it requires effort and you have to really train
yourself to do it.>>And I also think adding to that
to fit interviews are so important. So, you can make a few mistakes
on the case interview, but if they don’t like you. They’re not gonna hire you. So just choosing the right stories
and come across as a likable person, someone that they’d like to
hang out with in the airport. It’s always the airport
test that they mention. So you need to take that seriously.>>Yeah, I think Basil and Helena, covered the case interview
and personal experience part. And I think there is one part,
I think more people can help themselves do more and that’s
before getting in the interviews. You can do that by case
competitions, pro bono work, but I think the main
thing is networking. But I would say, that networking
also depends on which kind of firms you’re talking to. So for McKenzie PCG and Band, they
look at more on your experiences, your resume, your cover letter,
your stories and your personality. Whereas for
Boutique Life Sciences Firms, they do tend to care more about
whether they know you or not. So I think you have to decide for
yourself, whether you wanna be a journalist or
a Boutique Life Science consultant. And then you go down
each different pathway. [MUSIC]>>Unlike other jobs, consulting has
sort of a unique interview process. And so,
initially the interview process, there is a fit component
that Helena mentions. And so you can prepare for
those questions, they’re typical questions. Tell me about a time you worked on
a team, or when you were a leader, or when you had difficulty
working with someone. So those are you can study for
those, and you definitely should. But the unique part of consulting
interviews is they all have a case component. And so case component actually is
a real case the consulting firm probably worked on, and so
you’re in there with an interviewer. They provide you with data and
you sort of go through solving the problem, and come to
a recommendation for the client. And you do this in real time,
there’s mental math involved. You’re sort of
thinking on your feet, you’re constantly being challenged. And the truth is you
have to prepare for that. To think that you can
sort of just walk in and do it without preparation,
would lead you to failure. I’m confident in saying that. [LAUGH]
>>Yes.>>Yeah, I would say don’t
get too bogged down in memorizing all the frameworks. Find a general one that works for
you, and that you can potentially
apply to every situation. Or at least that’s what I did. And then you can always tailor it
to the problems that they’re asking you, but don’t memorize 20 different
frameworks, that just wouldn’t work.>>Yeah.
>>Yeah. To build on those two points, I think, if I were to say, the most important thing that helped
me the most during my interviews is remembering that consulting
is a professional service. And your dealing with people. So, whether it’s case
interview segment or the personal experience interview. You’re dealing with people and you have to think of your
interviewer as a client. So, you want to show that you are
capable of becoming a consultant, you are a consultant already. And you can show that by
sharing your personal story or by doing a case. And so the fundamental skills
are definitely need to be there, but it’s having that mindset,
I think, that really helped me.>>Yeah, to Roberts point, your
interviewer will be your advocate. After their done
interviewing with you, they’re gonna say whether they
want to work with you, or not. So, I think Helena’s
point is really good. They have to want to work with you. Clearly, you have to
do well on the case. But there has to be some intangible, you have to imagine they’re
interviewing 50 PhDs in one day. So a lot of them will do well on the
case of how do you sort of stick out and I think a lot of that is fit,
which is what these guys mentions, so I agree with that. [MUSIC] So for activities that help I think
we have a good spectrum of them. We have all been involved
with the consulting club, and so I have been a part of that for
a couple years, and that’s tremendously
helped me prepare. I also took a course at
the school of business at Kerry, to help prepare me for some of the
business aspects of consulting, and I think that was helpful. And then I did these
immersion programs, for some of these
firms over the summer. They do little three day
immersion programs at BCG and Bain and Mackenzie and Clearview,
and I did a couple of those. And it sort of helps you stick
out as an applicant, but also it gives you a feel of what
being a consultant is like. So I thought those
were really valuable.>>Yeah, I think that things that I
did, I also worked for a start up. Which also gave me great stories to
talk about in the interviews, and then entering for a venture capital firm, which again
gave me great stories to talk about. So those two experiences helped.>>Yeah.
I think, I guess in my mind I kind of
think of it as a pathway. Unless you have previous
business experiences. I think most people are kinda
starting from the ground zero, and so you have to first,
read information and gain those knowledge. And after that you can
start maybe practicing through case competitions,
or just cases with friends. and those are kind of
the no risk environment, where you can just learn more about
business and consulting in general. After that, I think for me, the real
best experiences were the internship and the pro bono projects that I
did, and I think those are very important in getting insights into
how to deal with real world clients. Yep, I think all of
those would help.>>Yeah, definitely. [MUSIC]>>Yeah, so-
>>[LAUGH]>>I’m scared because he’s doing something new and
out of my comfort zone. But I think that’s part of the fun
and I think it would be challenging if I’m moving to a new place,
moving to a new city. But also I’m excited about, thing about a PhD is you work on
one problem for six years, and you definitely become
an experiment in the area. But I’m excited to work on
something for six weeks, and then learn something new, and move
on to something, and have a real terminal point, and really deliver
impact is what I’m excited about. Yeah, I’m excited to work
on different projects and have a faster turn around
time on projects, and then working with people
from different backgrounds.>>And I’m sure it’ll be
a step learning curve, but I’m really excited about that too.>>Right,
I very much echo their point. I think for me, the most exciting
thing to look forward to, is the exposure that
I would be getting. To different industries, different
functions within those industries, and different people that
I’ll be working with. I think having focused on very
narrow projects in IPHC for six years now, it would be a real
chance [LAUGH] to be on that page, and then work on challenging but
impact driven projects.

2 Replies to “Consulting Careers | Questions and Answers from PhD Students”

  • I'm intellectual beating those with advanced degrees while holding a BA degree, tells MI dont need it. Don't know YouTube "suggesting" consulting interviews when starting my consulting firm. intellectual property theft from myself & attempts at defamation of my character won't stop MI.

  • I’m currently doing an phd in immunology, and is very interested in a career in consulting. This video was very informative, and I wish such a club would exist in my institute !

    Thank you very much

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