Hello Kushagra! How did you decide that you wanted to go into consulting?
I was exploring a lot of fields and had done internships in architecture and design. In the lockdown, when there was a halt of 2–3 months, I was a little confused about the field to pursue. I did what I liked, applied for graphic design and product design internships and was doing that. In September, I decided to go for product management and consulting since I had a good CGPA and CV, so I began preparing for these two profiles.
Did you have any previous internships in this sector?
No, I didn’t have any previous internships in this sector, all of my internships were related to architecture and product design.
What was the general selection process for the company? Also, the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process?
Arthur D. Little was the first company I interviewed for and I got through. They shortlisted around 14 candidates on the basis of their résumé, after which we had a buddy-call session, in which they told us about how they will be going about the interviews. Then on Day 1 of Placements, we had our interviews over zoom. There were three rounds of interviews each about 10–15 minutes long.
What were the questions that were asked in interviews and the FAQs if there are any?
In the first round they asked my introduction and why did I want to join consulting, Then there was one short business case, which was a small profitability case. It was not a rigorous one, they just asked about the approach and recommendations, I did not have to go through the complete case. The first round went for 10–15 minutes, and after a gap of 10–15 minutes, I went for the next round. In the second round, I introduced myself again, in which they stopped me on my leadership qualities, PORs, values and some typical questions like what do you think a leader should do. Other than that, based on my resume, they asked me about my extra-curricular activities and about time management. Also, they asked me to guess my intern company’s revenue and recommendations for its improvement. There was a puzzle, which was a common one, from the book ‘Heard on the Street’. Then they asked me whether I had any questions for them, and the interviewer was a KGPian too, so we just talked about that. After a few minutes, they called me for the third round, which was with the Managing Partner of India and South East Asia himself. He checked my CGPA and then moved to my extra-curriculars. I told him about my achievements in dramatics and design, as the Inter IIT Dramatics captain, and the Design Head of Spring Fest and Inter IIT Sports Meet. I was also asked about my other shortlists and why I would prefer ADL over those companies. Regarding the FAQs, most consulting interviews have puzzles, guesstimates and business cases. There was no such separate HR round, but all three rounds had a few HR questions to check the culture fit.
What are the things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximise their chances of getting through a company in this sector?
For consult specifically, you need a combination of both CG and CV, an 8+ CG is preferable, but you should target for 8.5+, and in terms of POR and Co-Curriculars, they definitely help you in building a vivid CV, which helps in shortlist and even during the interviews, you get more things to talk about. PORs and Co-curricular have a good impact on the interviewer as well, so both of these things are very important.
Do you need big names on your CV in terms of internships?
Ideally it is good to have an internship at a reputed firm, it is also a strong part of your CV, but in my case, I was more involved in PORs and co-curricular, so for me, I was prompting out my best part, although my internships were not related to this field. But you should have a diverse profile, be it good Internships or good PORs, or both.
Please suggest some resources for preparation.
I personally didn’t prepare much for consult, I was preparing for product management for which I joined Relay Campus which was started by our Alumnus, that helped a lot. Later when I was shortlisted for Arthur D. Little, I had very less time so I asked my batchmates and seniors who had prepared for consult and they made me practice a few cases. The resources which are most important are Victor Cheng YT videos and Audiobook of cases. ‘IIT Bombay’s Case Interviews Cracked’, ‘Heard on the Street’ and ‘Vault’s Guide to Case Interviews’ is good for case prep and guesstimates.
Difference between consult and product
In my crude knowledge, Product management needs you to have knowledge about the customers, their needs and develop features corresponding to the needs aligning with the company’s goals. Consult requires you to deal more with strategy, business and management. Product management is an intersection of tech, design and business. Both of these profiles are rigorous in nature. The difference is that as a consultant your clients will be leading companies, NGOs and business managers, people leading the company. While in product roles you will be part of one company and deal with problems for only that company. Both roles, in my opinion, are such that each day is unique and interesting.
Any suggestion for second and 3rd years, who are trying different fields and are confused about which to pursue.
It’s normal not to know what you want to do. You never know what you like, unless you try it. Try something, if you don’t like it, try another. My only suggestion is to always be curious about fields and most importantly never do anything just to write it in your resume. Do what you enjoy doing and you will eventually get to know which field is best for you. What happened to me was that I had tried out Architecture, Graphic Design, Product and many other fields. Then I ended up in consulting, after all, these are wide fields that you cannot predict for yourself, but the best thing to do is try out and see for yourself if you like it or not. Aim for something that you like and don’t be much pressurised about placements. Why waste precious years of your KGP life, only thinking about getting a job, when there’s so much more to explore and learn from. Juniors can also reach out to me for advice, would love to help. All the best! :)