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Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores

 
#1 Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
13/11/2013 13:44

pirate

Hello all, I'm currently a postgraduate student at Imperial, which is good and perhaps a target school but not Oxbridge, LBS, LSE, etc. I fear that I may be dinged from pretty much every consultancy I've applied to so far without an interview because of two things:

My work experience previously has been in Corporate Finance, not consultancy, and not with any blue-chip names. The largest name on my CV is a one month internship with one of the big four.

Additionally, my undergraduate degree was a very, very low 2.1 (equivalent to a 3.3-3.4 in the US). I have excuses but so does everybody and I didn't do well enough. I am aiming to get a Distinction at Imperial but I won't have any expected or actual grades until this recruitment cycle is over.

I try and explain away some of these problems in my application but it's difficult in one cover letter which also has to contain so much more content. For example in Corporate Finance I still had to do lots of client facing and quantitative work. During my undergraduate degree I took two degrees in parallel and had a hard courseload to graduate early and save on tuition. I also have experience working in five different countries, although again none was with a super prestigious firm or for more than three months at a time.

The next application I'm trying for is Accenture. Do I even have a shot? Is there anything I can put in my written submissions to mitigate the damages? Should I just aim to get a good brand on my resume after this degree and aim to break into consulting from industry?

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#2 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
13/11/2013 16:13

Monks123 to pirate (#1)

Unless your applying for a MBB you shouldn't have a problem.

You have 2.1, you have experience, Accenture and other top 4 should accept you (based on how you come across etc)

You shouldn't have to explain problems because you got a 2.1. You're pretty much looking a a graduate role so experience counts less here.

Also Imperial is great uni, I went to less and have worked for the likes of Accenuture etc

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#3 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
13/11/2013 17:33

powernap to Monks123 (#2)

Ditto that re: Big 5. You'll be fine, just don't try to explain this in your written application and remember that getting through the (very low) initial hurdle is far from enough. You'll be tested extensively (and rather rigidly) in the interview process at any of the Big 5.

Just remember that beneath the exterior they are just a bunch of sprawling multinationals with very large variances in their talent mix. That being said, education will always play a significant part - the Big 4 recruitment drive at target institutions will always claim a large proportion of graduate intake. Just know that if you excel in the interview process and show solid work history you will stand apart from your peer group (that being non targets.)

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#4 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
13/11/2013 19:19

pirate to powernap (#3)

Thanks guys, I'm interested in all the big five except E&Y (although I'm sure it's still a great firm so would happily listen to swaying opinions) as well as some more practical consultancies like OW and LEK so it's good to know I won't be cut immediately.

I have also been doing a lot of work with the university careers service to focus on emphasizing how what I've done is solid, looking at some of the applications I wrote coming out of undergrad and what I'm producing now shows a big improvement.

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#5 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
14/11/2013 09:42

Evil Consultant to pirate (#1)

Q: How many Imperial grads does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Only one, but they'd do it just as well as anyone with a degree from Oxford or Cambridge!

More seriously, with a 2:1 from Imperial you'll be fine at most places except MBB provided that your A Level grades are high enough. The grade boundary is usually in place just to cut down on the number of interviews that need to be completed.

Best of luck,

EC

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#6 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
14/11/2013 10:06

ACONTACT to pirate (#1)

If you were to unravel the full academic qualifications of every employee of the Big 4 firms and other top consulting firms, you would find thousands and thousands of people who currently work in those companies with far inferior credentials than a 2.1 from Imperial.

Don't get me wrong, the majority would be highly accomplished and above average, but if you go in with a mindset that your achievement isn't enough to work in any of those companies it will probably manifest itself externally in an interview situation as a lack of surety about your own capability.

I have not seen any consulting application in the UK that probes the exact score of an undergraduate degree. If you got a 2.1: you didnt get a 2.2. Thats it. Not sure why you would explain or bring attention to the fact that you think you could have done better in with your 2.1. Thats screams all kinds of worrying and uncertainty to a hiring manager.

Regarding experience, corporate finance is incredibly useful to understand. Given you also have previous Big 4 experience, think you'll be fine.

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#7 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 10:37

Anon MCs to ACONTACT (#6)

Hi P,

I agree with all the commments here, I think your initial post explains why you haven't got anywhere near an interview:

- 2:1 from Imperial is excellent, giving excuses on illnesses etc will not look good on a Cover Letter. It looks like you are not in touch with the real world and hence potential rejection by MCs. Instead you should state it as a fact and be proud, 2:1 from Imperial is good. It is known as a very good Uni

- Your work experience should be described in a positive manner, not many have what you described and hence make sure it is included

- If you can add something on the personal side (eg captain of x sports team / member of x society / etc) this then will show the MCs that you are a rounded individual, with good Uni, good grades and an all round nice guy

- Add your A Level grades especially if they are A-Bs

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#8 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 11:46

Mr Cool to Anon MCs (#7)

Completely agree with Anon above.

You seem to be apologising for no reason - thus raising suspicion.

It's a bit like when I return to a completely tidy house and my kids are sitting quietly in the corner doing their homework and then one of them looks up and says "it wasn't me - it was her".

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#9 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 12:47

pirate to Mr Cool (#8)

Hey guys, thanks so much for the uplifting comments. After giving some employers time to get back to me I have had some success, and I will definitely use your tips to focus on what I'm good at rather than apologising.

One thing that I perhaps didn't make clear in my opening post was probably that my undergraduate degree wasn't from Imperial. (However obviously I did well enough to move into Imperial). It was from Boston University's School of Management, which is quite a good undergraduate programme (I think Business Insider put it 10th recently). But I don't know if it's well regarded in the UK.

So perhaps getting the equivalent of a 2.1 at a university not well known to British employers coupled with the fact that I did IB instead of AP might have contributed to my initial disappointments. As you guys say though, there are people at these huge firms who won't have what I have, so it's all about presenting yourself!

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#10 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 18:16

Mr Cool to pirate (#9)

Boston,Mass. Or Boston, Lincs?

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#11 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 19:18

pirate to Mr Cool (#10)

The American one. Boston, MA

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#12 RE: Main obstacles- no brand name and low undergrad scores
15/11/2013 23:44

Mr Cool to pirate (#11)

Phew!

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