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Blog posts tagged in networking

b2ap3_thumbnail_Music_Business_Program.jpgToday's success story focuses on Kevin Drennan, a music major from McGill University and MCN member who will be joining McKinsey full-time in 2014. After an initial, unsuccessful attempt at breaking into consulting, he buckled down, focused on the essentials, and secured multiple offers before deciding to join McKinsey. In this guest post, he discusses his path to consulting, and the factors that helped him succeed as a non-traditional applicant.

The following is written by Kevin, is purely a personal viewpoint, and in no way, shape or form represents the official position of any organization on the recruiting process. The image represents what we expect Kevin to look like next year. 

“From Music-Major to McKinsey”

Breaking into Consulting from a Non-Traditional Background

Last year at this time I was reeling after finishing consulting recruitment with no offers. I had a non-traditional background (music major at McGill; 3 minors in math, economics & business), but I thought that my strong GPA, extracurriculars, and ‘uniqueness factor’ would lead to at least one or two good offers.


Posted by Khaled Kteily on in All About Consulting


This post is Part 4 in a five-part series on the skills you will need to succeed in consulting, and focuses on building an effective network and positive reputation within your office and firm. 

The series:

Part 1: Hard skills and staying organized

Part 2: Knowing your industry, client, and competitors


Here's the thing: if you work for a firm that recruits at a major school, students have probably been trained from day one to network. At schools like Queen's and Ivey, it's a well-oiled machine. 30 minutes to 6 hours after an information session, you receive a dozen politely-phrased e-mails from students requesting phone calls, coffee chats, case prep, hugs, freshly-baked cookies, inspirational life talks, and more. 

Here's the thing though - and I'll take myself as an example because my instinct is to help a student whenever possible - a consultant doesn't want to spend their time with a student who probably won't get an interview. It sounds cold, and unfair almost, but it's the truth. When you have limited time (and we all do), to a certain extent you HAVE to be selective. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_tie-handkerchief-and-three-piece-suit.jpgHow you think you look: suave, smooth, and like Justin Timberlake meets Johnny Depp. 

How you actually look: Like an (ahem) d-bag. 

I'd like to introduce a simple concept today: high risk, low reward. 

When you crack a joke with a consultant that you think will go over well, that's high risk but high reward. If you genuinely make him or her laugh, you've immediately won someone over. If they don't find it funny, they probably aren't going to go out of their way to ding you. 

Now high risk, low reward is the opposite. When you wear a tie clip, handkerchief, 3-piece suit, slick back your hair, bust out your best cufflinks, and flip that fedora onto your head, you are going to bring out 2 potential responses:


While certain other sites (ahem) may charge you a couple of hundred dollars for this information, it's not rocket science. And to throw in an unrelated anecdote, a friend used the following quote in an I-Banking interview: "I'm an engineer. I can literally build rockets. Whatever you throw at me, I can handle" (Yes, he did make it to the final round).

Now back to e-mail addresses. Remember - before you e-mail an individual, or if you're looking for the right person to e-mail, Google "Firm Name + Your University + Recruiting".

A simple "Bain McGill Recruiting" search takes you right to Bain's McGill-specific page for recruitment, letting you know that Courtney Evans is the right person to e-mail. And what do you know, her e-mail is listed right there on the page. The second google link that comes up? BCG at McGill. Yes, folks, it's that easy. 

The following is the basic e-mail format for the major consulting firms:

McKinsey: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Most students will make one of two mistakes when job-hunting:

1. They won't use LinkedIn whatsoever

2. They will use LinkedIn incorrectly

The following is a great article by a student who managed to get into a major IBank (GS/MS/JPM) from a "semi-target" school through very targeted and effective use of LinkedIn. I've added some additional comments and perspectives about what he did right, what he could have improved, and what not to do when using LinkedIn to get an interview.

Building a complete and meaningful LinkedIn profile is important, but what's the point if no-one takes a look? Below is a surprisingly easy way to get consultants to check out your profile on LinkedIn.

This is one of the most common questions that I receive from students - "How do I network with a consultant?" Let's face it, it's a tricky situation with a high upside and a dangerous downside - below I discuss some of the right and wrong ways to network with consultants for the first time.