During her summer in an investment banking role, Fiona Mohamed pursued and accepted a full-time consulting position at Oliver Wyman in Boston. To touch on what motivated this transition, Fiona noted, “My banking role required a deep and specialized knowledge base. I soon discovered I wanted more variety in the day-to-day work – the opportunity to collaborate with others and come up with comprehensive solutions to problems across industries (as in consulting). I’m not entirely sure what I want to do five years down the line, and this variety, as well as the hard and soft skills that consulting builds, can lead to a better understanding of my interests.”
With respect to finance versus consulting more generally, Fiona also shared her thoughts: “in my experience, if you’re looking for more creativity, more stake in the final outcome, and more influence as a junior level person, I think that comes more with consulting. You’re at least getting much more exposure to high-level meetings and high-level solutions, in which you’re participating. But as an entry-level analyst at an investment banking firm for instance, you’re creating a model that ultimately doesn’t really have your name on it, that some senior person is presenting for you. In consulting, from my understanding, you’re very much in on the conversation, and you’re really crafting those solutions.”
Fiona prepared for strategy consulting interviews while working long days in her banking role. To do so, especially while constrained to very limited free time, she said that the “key is working with other people – not just doing practice case interview questions on my own – getting friends who acted on the other side of the interview, simulating a real environment. It was also important to practice every week, not just all in one fell swoop, and to vary the type of case interview questions.”
As suggestions for other Middlebury students interested in consulting, Fiona offered, “Networking is really important, especially to prepare and ask very specific questions for when you’re talking to people. Have them connect you with others if possible. I think the most valuable thing was talking to someone who had a negative experience with a particular consulting company. The reasons they didn’t like the firm, I was actually very okay with – they weren’t deal breakers for me. This allows you to see what’s important to you and what’s not. Ask very targeted questions about their day-to-day life in consulting –you’ll get the most out of your conversation with someone, and they will remember you by your questions.”
To detail the expected day-to-day life as a consultant at Oliver Wyman, Fiona explained her upcoming role through the lens of her connections at Oliver Wyman as well as the description that Oliver Wyman provides of the entry-level role. “You wake up, get to the airport, arrive at the client site, check in with the manager, and develop a plan of attack. You probably get lunch with your clients that day. You create your excel model, maybe update it with some feedback you’ve learned from the client, then you meet with your team from the consulting firm to discuss points of collaboration and progress before creating the deck for a client presentation.”
In addition to networking insights and a glimpse of two industries, Fiona’s internship experience shows that neither field is a concrete, one-way path. Instead of viewing a junior year internship as a post-graduation channel into a particular field, students can see it as a means of learning more about their interests and pursuing them accordingly wherever they lead.
Nate Gee ’18 is a Peer Career Advisor at the CCI and is an Economics major. In his role, he helps students develop resumes and cover letters, prepare for interviews, and access helpful job and internship search resources such as Handshake.