Hi everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the last few days or weeks of your summer before arriving on campus. First year is an amazing experience full of making new friends and learning about why people named George shouldn’t make t-shirts (this will make sense at about 11am on August 27th). Even at this early stage, some of you are likely thinking about internships and the recruiting process. As VP of Internationals for the Consulting Club this year, I thought I might share some of my, and my classmates, thoughts and experiences on recruiting for consulting internships:
Aim for the stars — but pack a parachute.
I completely encourage you to go get that dream internship whatever it may be. However, make sure you have a plan B and C. If your dream is interning with BCG then remember that over 100 of your classmates may also apply for that same internship, with a limited number of places available, and only a few of these positions go to International Students.
I’m not trying to discourage you, but rather encourage you to think “If I don’t get my dream internship, how can I set myself up to get that dream full time position?”. There are many options to consider including:
- Off grounds recruiting – there are a vast number of high quality companies which don’t recruit at Darden. There is a bit more legwork involved but the time you invest in research and networking off-grounds will increase your chances of finding your desirable role.
- Opportunities in your home country – now before you stop reading- yes, there are plenty of opportunities in the USA and many companies who want to recruit international students. However, domestic students always have an inherent advantage when being considered for job positions due to understanding of U.S. market; excellent command of “client acceptable” business English; and lack of need of visa sponsorship. So, don’t forget opportunities in your home country that are now available to you with that Darden MBA where the responsibilities and career trajectory can be much higher, especially in emerging markets.
- General Management and Corporate Strategy – if you are focused on specialized consulting firms, then you might also consider these alternate paths. They are a great stepping-stone to build your soft skills and make you a stronger candidate for full time positions.
This is key to recruiting, especially in the USA. I have never experienced the level of networking in my home country, Australia, that I have in the US. Networking not only requires you to show interest in the firm and position, but also some personality so that recruiters can answer the questions ‘would I like to work with this person for 14 hours a day in a small windowless room’. It also goes both ways. This is a chance for you to gauge whether or not you would like to work at the firm. So, think about the type of environment that motivates you, and ask the right questions to see if it exists in the firm.
Culture and English
As an Australian I thought I spoke fluent English; my American friends tell me otherwise! Since you have been accepted into the best MBA program in the world, then your English must be pretty good. However, recruiters expect you to be able to communicate on the same level as Americans. So, make time to get to know the American slang. Interacting with domestic students is the best way to improve your English and understand American mannerisms.
Now, domestic students are certainly friendly, sometimes they don’t always make you feel accepted in their new culture, and they are just as stressed as you coming into the MBA environment and tend to group with students with familiar backgrounds. So it’s up to you to take up the social opportunities and get to know them and not fall in the trap of grouping only with your home country colleagues. It’s far too easy to stay in your comfort zone and interact with people you feel familiar with. But while you’re in an internationally diverse group of people, why not take the chance to challenge your comfort zone? That’s part of the reason for doing the MBA in the first place right?
Okay, case practice is very important, but do not forget the other parts of the interview process. This is very closely related to my points above, being able to communicate and interact with people outside of your comfort zone in excellent business English. During the interview process you will be stressed and speaking with unfamiliar people. Practice this by speaking to many different people in the very safe environment of Darden (FYs and SYs) and asking for their feedback. Getting an understanding of how you can improve is vital for securing that dream job!
So that’s it for now. The next six months will likely to be some of the busiest of your life. Make time to improve your weak areas and challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid of asking for help. Darden is honestly the most helpful place I’ve experienced. Everyone maybe after those prime jobs, but what sets Darden apart I think is our willingness to make sure everyone is prepared and able to do their best.
I wish you the best of luck for your first year, and I look forward to meeting you all over the next few months.
VP International, Darden Consulting Club