How To Dominate Consulting Internships and Get A Recommendation Letter

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

To get into great graduate school programs, one path to eventually working for a firm like McKinsey or Parthenon in India,  you need a letter of recommendation from a manager. This means that you need to over-perform to be able to get a stellar letter of recommendation from a manager and impress the admission committee that is reading this recommendation.

An internship is not about getting the brand stamp and then lazing around. You need to be driven and give 100% to be able to get that stellar letter of recommendation from the manager.

The key is to show initiative and make yourself indispensable to the team. Say, for example, you are given task  X.  You want to push yourself to perform 5 times X to ensure that your manager builds confidence in you will  give you 3 X responsibility. When the engagement manager or partner gives you a few key tasks, make sure you ask the right questions and understand the job. Never, never shirk work. Never show an attitude.

How does this help?

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To get into great graduate school programs, one path to eventually working for a firm like McKinsey or Parthenon in India,  you need a letter of recommendation from a manager. This means that you need to over-perform to be able to get a stellar letter of recommendation from a manager and impress the admission committee that is reading this recommendation.

An internship is not about getting the brand stamp and then lazing around. You need to be driven and give 100% to be able to get that stellar letter of recommendation from the manager.

The key is to show initiative and make yourself indispensable to the team. Say, for example, you are given task  X.  You want to push yourself to perform 5 times X to ensure that your manager builds confidence in you will  give you 3 X responsibility. When the engagement manager or partner gives you a few key tasks, make sure you ask the right questions and understand the job. Never, never shirk work. Never show an attitude.

How does this help?

Initially my manager didn't how an engineer who knew nothing about client relationships or business, finance, and Excel could really succeed in front of a consulting clients (in this case, Ernst & Young's clients).

During the first week of my internship,  my duty in the office was to help my manager wrap up his workload from the previous case. Initiative and quick learning are highly valued in management consulting environments--if you keep pushing the manager for more work up front, they start building confidence in you,  in your ability to shoulder more responsibility. This happened to me after my  first week, to the extent that they put a non-business graduate without any work experience in front of a client on a live case!

We were working for one of the leading travel agencies in India, working on an internal audit to identify the risks of their operations. They decided to park me with the team, so for the next two months, I spent my entire time at Ernst & Young's client site.

This gave me a very strong bullet on my resume/CV and allowed me to work alongside consultants in front of a client to solve a live problem, which is another great story to use during consulting interviews to get into places like BCG or Bain.With a good supporting team and  a live case experience, it was now all about performance, dedication, and over-deliverance.

At the end of the internship, I was given a full-time job offer by my engagement manager. Students should remember that the internship and an offer after the internship are both crucial points on a resume; however, I turned down the job offer because I had other things in mind. I wanted to pursue my Master's in the U.S. so I was happy to get a good work recommendation and leave it at that.

The internship served as a helpful foundation when I applied to Duke's Master's in Engineering Management program and was a big step towards landing a strategy consulting job in India.
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