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Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy

 
#1 Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
25/08/2006 14:12

Dennis to deleted (#0)

Hello to everybody, I'm new here!

I have obtained my PhD in Physics 3 months ago, and since then I have been looking for a position in consultancy (any area seeking quantitative brain power). It approached the job hunting as if it was a proper job, and applied for countless positions through the Web. Unfotunately I managed to get only one interview with Deloitte. There must be something wrong in the way I approach my job hunting in consultancy. I've been looking for entry level positions (and it's not so easy to find them in general) ans used different kind of CV "templates", all emphasizing my problem-solving, computing, data analysis and communication skills (seminars, conferences, tutoring, publications etc) but so far not so good! Might it be my age?...Am I to old to hope in an entry level position in any firm?

Can anybody help me understand where might be wrong, what I should focus on etc etc...maybe it's wrong to apply for big and well-known multinational firms...any help would be highly appreciated...I am desperately seeking a career change, I can't stand academia anymore, but somewhere I am making mistakes...I desperately need a piece of advice...

Thank you very much for your time and appreciation...

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#2 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
25/08/2006 16:30

anon to Dennis (#1)

If you don't mind me asking, what university(s) did you go to? It could make a difference.

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#3 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
25/08/2006 16:45

antonello to Dennis (#1)

Try to apply for more senior positions instead. Keep on trying in Big firms, Perseverance and determination must be your qualities...

good luck

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#4 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
26/08/2006 13:47

Dennis to deleted (#0)

I don't mind at all...I got my PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London...

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#5 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
26/08/2006 14:04

anon to Dennis (#4)

Yep, well Holloway is decent enough. As seen in a post below, there does seem to be a lot of snobbery (not necessarily unjustified) with regard to education. Sorry, I can't be of more help. Maybe someone else could shed light on the matter?

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#6 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
26/08/2006 14:24

Dennis to deleted (#0)

I don't mind at all...I got my PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London...

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#7 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
27/08/2006 02:38

Joker to Dennis (#6)

Renowned research university

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#8 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
27/08/2006 13:45

Joined consulting at 34 to Joker (#7)

Do not be discouraged by the lack of response and also do not let yourself be psychologically handicapped by focusing too much on your age. I would also not focus too much on data driven, problem solving abilities to promote yourself instead on the ability to bring structure to complex business issues and develop viable business solutions. Remember consulting means working within teams and selling your ideas to people day in and day out therefore focus on your success with people and other life experiences.

It’s never too late. Royal Holloway is not bad to have on the CV. Like some one else said apply for senior roles. Most recruiters like to see people with self confidence in their own abilities. I would be worried if a PhD is willing to get in at entry level. Some time it can be interpreted as lack of confidence, meaning there might be something wrong. Also, with your academic qualifications most recruiters would be apprehensive of your “fit” with entry level roles. Their main concern being people who might be managing you would be younger and less qualified and that could be quite intimidating, hence the fit issue. All the best with job search.

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#9 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
28/08/2006 12:52

Dennis to Joined consulting at 34 (#8)

Thank you very much for your piece of advice "Joined consulting", I found it very helpfull indeed.

I would like to add that at the beginning I always applied for senior roles, but the complete lack of response in months discouraged me, and I desperately need a job. This is the main reason why decided to fly lower and start seeking entry level position, although it was a painful decision to make for somebody who had a Nobel prize winner as a PhD examiner and passed with commendation. Yet, I am used to challenge myself into question, then the entry level choice. I know I am makind mistakes in my jobhunting process and I need help to better understand and fix them. I will try again to go fot senior roles, although I find it questionable, not having relevant experience. I also will put more emphasis on my proven (although only in academia) skills to bring structure to complex business issues and develop viable business solutions, as you suggested.

Thank you very much for your help; if you like giving any other piece of advice I would highly appreciate.

Thank you very much indeed.

Dennis

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#10 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
28/08/2006 14:38

Joined consulting at thirty four to Dennis (#9)

No problem you are more that welcome. Another way into consulting could be aiming for a short term contract on a project. Some of these recruitment consultancies specialize in short term contracts. With your numerical skills it should not be a huge problem to get in one of those. The closest thing I can think of is business modeling. www.jobserve.comGo to

and search “business analyst” and “business modeling” I am sure you will see something that you should be very comfortable to do. The best thing from then onwards would be to pick up the phone and speak to the recruitment consultant and directly before sending you CV sometime a voice over helps more than we think…. see an example of what to expect below (just ran a search for you)

http://jobserve.com/WB273233ACC20B8D6.job

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#11 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
28/08/2006 15:28

Dennis to Joined consulting at thirty four (#10)

I can only thank you. I will look for business analyst and modelling solutions as well now. I had a look at the web page you suggested. It was a good idea, but what struck me when skimming the text was the following statement: "minimum 3 years Business Analyst experience". I find very often (>90%) requirements like this when looking for a non-entry-level position. What should I do? In most of cases I refrain from applying, is it this another mistake or a completely logical action?

How should I tackle this kind of statements?, job ads are full of them.

I seriously hope I am not bothering too much, this "conversation" is very precious to me, and I appreciate a lot what you're doing.

Kind regards,

Dennis

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#12 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
29/08/2006 09:32

Joined consulting at thirty four to Dennis (#11)

Hi Dennis,

Glad to help. Don’t worry about asking too many questions.

On the experience front; yes almost all postings ask for experience but mostly they do not find the exact match hence they have to settle for less. What they normally look for is the candidates with right skill set, fit, and other attributes sometimes these can make up for the lack of experience.

May I suggest that you might need to sell yourself proactively. That means getting on the phone, speaking to the recruiters and promoting your cause. It might sound a bit over bearing but you need to develop relationships with people who know where the jobs are e.g. recruitment consultants/in house recruiters. You need them in your corner cheering for you.

Question; what’s in it for them? Answer; normally recruitment consultants recruiting for contract roles take a cut from you daily rate. People with less experience (although a bit difficult to place in a job) are also often willing to take a lower rate, that means more money for the recruitment consultant.

With regards to your experience, may I suggest that you might like to focus your job hunt if possible around the areas of your PhD research which also complement consulting? It is also possible to use your research/internships, paid/unpaid PhD related work as you work experience. Think of any projects (near projects) you might have done involving say for instant modelling. This can be a substitute for your work experience if you positioned it correctly. The art here is effectively employing what you have at your disposal and in your arsenal and correlating it with recruiter’s needs. As far as applying for contracts is concerned, I would apply for most of them even if I don’t fully fit the criteria. You will only give yourself a fighting chance by taking the shot. No shot, no hit. Remember in these situations even partial hits are better than nothing.

Hope you find something soon. May Allah help you and make it easy for you. Do let me know if you have any other questions.

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#13 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
29/08/2006 13:29

Fed Up to Dennis (#11)

Hi Dennis,

I'm in a similar situation to you as well. I've tried both the junior and senior level approaches but without success although I hope contined persistence will eventually pay off. I was employed in a project manager capacity in an academic setting and was given an opportunity to undertake a PhD. However, now I am finding that I am considered too experienced for entry positions but not enough experienced for the senior positions. It is a no win situation. I'd be interested in finding out how you get along - so keep us posted!

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#14 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
29/08/2006 14:28

Dennis to Joined consulting at thirty four (#12)

Dear Joined Consulting,

Thanks a lot. You're quite right when you say that he art here is effectively employing what I have at my disposal and in my arsenal, correlating it with recruiter’s needs, but it's not trivial for somebody who always worked in fundamental physics research. The ideal job for me is the one that provides initial training and good career opportunities to climb up the ladder. I've always involved myself in very complicated research issues, that involved a lot of logical thinking and mathematical skills, very common skills after all (even if I may be more skilled than average).

What do you mean exactly for projects involving modelling?

Here the point is that I do not want to end up spending my remaining days in a windowless lab having no idea of what happens outside, after all my first interest/hobby is travelling!

I find it very difficult, this is the point where I stumble, to find the areas of my PhD research which also complement consulting.

Well, I guess it's difficult for you answer this one, but I want to thank you once again for your time and consideration.

Dennis

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#15 Re: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
31/08/2006 04:53

Beng

Pardon my ignorance as I'm not European. Is Royal Hollaway equivalent to a Stanford or MIT?

A PhD in Physics would be highly valued at Strat houses like McK/B/BCG. As VI indicated in prior posts, it would be meaningless at a Big 4. Besides business acumen, strat houses look for raw intellectual power. 3 years ago, we hired a 19 year old kid who had joint MS/MA in Biochemistry and Philosophy from Berkeley. Obviously no business experience whatsoever. But he nailed my case interview...I was absolutely shocked.

He left us less than a year ago, and is currently working as a legislative aide for a US Senator, as he "wanted to make a difference in this world". He was quite a character, as you can imagine.

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#16 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
31/08/2006 10:01

Dennis to Beng (#15)

Hi Beng!

Royal Holloway is a top 10 UK university, the Physics Dept. alone it's currently in the top 5. Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately your example it about a 19-year-old guy, though whithout any business experience as myself. I applied for McK and BCG, for their grad programme, but they did not invite me even for the 1st stage interview, and when I asked for feedback, so precious for somebody in my situation right now, they didn't provide it. Have no idea why dey did not give a chance. Maybe I should avoid grad programmes...I do not know what's wrong with my case...they only thing I know is that ofter months of applications I started feeling helpless, and for the first time in a long time I am clearly unsuccessful in doing something, yep...getting out of academia...

Any help, opinion, advice...is very much appreciated guys...

Thanks a lot...once again...

Dennis

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#17 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
31/08/2006 12:44

anon to deleted (#0)

Beng,

What is 'nailing' a case interview for you? What impresses you? What doesn't impress? Does the interviewee need to cover everything, or is it the way they go about it? Is there a particular structure you like? etc etc.

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#18 Re: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
31/08/2006 20:09

Partner

Hang in there Dennis... when I started I had the wall of shame going at first - then I learned how to position my self with the audience - and immediately got 3 offers. That was 12 years ago, and I was in a similar situation to you.

Be patient, positive, and think about what the audience is buying, not overselling yourself. Your background is very marketable for those firms...

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#19 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
01/09/2006 09:19

Dennis to Partner (#18)

Thanks a lot for your replies guys. I'd like to ask you for the last piece of advice in this thread. What would you suggest to me, to go for pure strat houses or to go for tech consulting firms as well?

I do not know many strat houses in the market, just a few, the big ones, like McK, BcG, Bain, Booz Allen, Roland Berger, IBM, Deloitte, Accenture..that's it..I can search the web very efficiently and find hundreds more, but somebody like me would get lost (i.e. see Vault Guide top 50). Can you give me some other feasible strat houses examples I could apply for in UK?...or point me to the right place where I can find what I seek?

Thanks a lot guys, you've been so helpfull for a newbie like me in this field.

Dennis

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#20 Case Interviewing 101
01/09/2006 20:32

Beng

The objective of a case interview is to assess (not listed in any order):

- analytical ability (all my cases involve cruching numbers)

- poise (I sometimes role play, acting like a belligerent client)

- creativity in arriving at a solution

- communication skills (you have to literally think out loud, I need to hear what's going through your head)

- logical thought process (you need to use a structured approach to break down the problem, and structure will help you think through all facets of the decision required)

- business acumen

Note that missing from this list is arriving at the actual solution. I don't expect you to actually solve the case or arrive at the right answer (although if you do, it's a bonus), but you need to demonstrate all the above in the process of solving the case. Most case interviews are actual client situations that took weeks or months to figure out by a consulting team. How can I expect you to solve it in 45 minutes, particularly if you have no experience in or knowledge of that industry?

Vault.com and Wetfeet.com sell case interview guides, and case interview examples (I believe all examples given were actual case interview questions). I suggest you get yourself a copy and practice, practice, practice.

By the way, if you go to a top tier B-school, your local "Management Consulting Club/Association" will actually help you prepare for case interviews. 2nd-year MBA students usually train 1st-year MBA students, and the skill is passed from generation to generation. This is just one of the many, many reasons why Strat houses wind up hiring the bulk of their associates from top-tier B-schools.

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#21 RE: Case Interviewing 101
02/09/2006 10:18

Dennis to Beng (#20)

Thanks a lot Beng for your last message, very helpfull indeed.

I was wondering...would it be completely wrong for me to go for internships in strat houses instead of senior/grad positions? Am I too old, overqualified or something? It's just an idea I came across, considering my lack of relative working experience...

Thanks again guys.

Dennis

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#22 RE: Case Interviewing 101
03/09/2006 17:24

bag81 to Beng (#20)

Hi Beng,

I invite you to comment on my post: Ph.D. in Chemistry in Strategy. You seem to be very helpful in assisting newbies to the field.

Thanks,

bag

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#23 Re: Case Interviewing 101
04/09/2006 04:08

Beng

Internships are for those still in school, not for those who have already graduated.

Contrary to what some might believe, having been involved in our firm's recruiting for many years -- age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. has absolutely nothing to do with it. Top tier strat houses would hire 40-year old MDs/PhDs for entry-level positions, just as well as 18-year old child prodigies.

Sorry for your predicament. Have you looked into Investment Banking? They hire a lot of PhDs in the Maths and Sciences, in the never ending quest to build ever better predictive models.

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#24 RE: Case Interviewing 101
07/09/2006 08:24

Joined consulting at thirty four to Beng (#23)

Hi Dennis, saw something on a job posting you might find interesting. have a look at the link; http://www.exec-appointments.com/jobs/viewAd.asp?id=58479&execID=78767

good luck

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#25 RE: Case Interviewing 101
07/09/2006 11:20

Dennis to Joined consulting at thirty four (#24)

I would like to thank everybody here for your help and advice. From Beng to Antonello, Anon, Joker, "Joined consulting at thirty four" and Partner; your messages are invaluable for a newbie like me.

Yet, I would like to thank publicly Mike; he's helping me a lot to amend my CV in order to make it more interesting and hopefully successful. My CV must have been one of the main reasons I haven't got a job yet, so I wrote to Mike and he spontaneously decided to give me an honest and thorough review, for free as well. The world need more people like Mike. It's sad to realize that I wasted 5 months and almost 200 applications just because of a terrible CV. I am back to square one now, but I will catch up, in particular now that I joined this forum, hopefully you'll continue to help me in what I consider a new challenge, to get a job outside academia.

Thanks a lot.

Dennis

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#26 RE: Case Interviewing 101
07/09/2006 11:22

Dennis to Joined consulting at thirty four (#24)

It's a great tip "Joined consulting at thirty four"! I will apply as soon as my new CV will be ready.

Grazie.

Dennis

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#27 RE: Case Interviewing 101
13/09/2006 20:07

Dennis to Dennis (#26)

Hello to everybody once again!

I need another piece of advice. I applied last week for McKinsey as an Advanced Professional degree candidate (Business analyst position), and today they gave me a ring just to tell me that they'd like to speak to me next week in Rome (I'm Italian), this is my very first interview for a strategic consultant position, any advice? They told me the first interview will be about my CV, the second one will be a case study...What kind of questions should I expect, what kind of question they will expect from me? Do you know any place on the web where I could get important material to get prepared. This is the first interview in 6 months, I cannot miss it!

I managed to get hold of "Vault Career Guide to Case interview 2005", "McKinsey.Case.Interview.Workshop" and "Wetfeet - Mckinsey Company Insider Guide"...it's a lot of stuff to study in just 6 days...any short cut...anything.

You've been very kind and helpful to me lately, I hope you can give me another tip now.

Kind regards,

Dennis

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#28 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
26/11/2006 21:25

hameed to Dennis (#1)

sir,

Please accept my enclosed resume for the opportunities in your concern. I am confident that my education have prepared me for the position that you have available, and my unique abilities will enable me to contribute significantly toward your objectives.

When you review my enclosed resume, you’ll find that my background includes a recent B.E Degree in along with the following professional and project experience:

In addition, you will find me a well-organized, detail-oriented team member with excellent analytical, troubleshooting, and problem-solving skills. I thrive on new challenges and may innovative approach to systems and improvement, along with my desire to learn, will prove to be an asset to my employer. I look forward to a personal interview to discuss with you how I can best serve Engineering

Thanking you

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#29 RE: Fresh PhD but 30-years-old struggling to find a job in consultancy
26/11/2006 21:52

eh to hameed (#28)

wtf?

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#30 RE: Case Interviewing 101
04/12/2006 12:37

interested to Dennis (#27)

Hi Dennis, I found this an interesting thread, just wondering how did you get on with your interview? Have you had any other luck getting a job?

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