Interviewing, Summer Internships, Uncategorized

My Experience with Pre-MBA Summer Opportunities

What are “pre-MBA summer opportunities,” you ask? Yeah, I wondered the same thing.

I first read about them in Poets and Quants – and promptly freaked out. Was EVERYONE doing these things? Why hadn’t I heard about them earlier!?

Thankfully, Emily and NextStep Careers were on the case. She helped me to narrow my focus to what really interested me – opportunities to work in market strategy, either for a consultancy or in-house.

Here’s an overview of my experience with the companies I chose to apply with, including BCG, McKinsey, Procter and Gamble, and Amazon.

shutterstock_351007148BCG Fellows
I was fortunate to be selected as a 2018 BCG Fellow. (And am psyched about it!)

The interview process was straightforward. I sent in my resume and answered a few short answer questions. Once I was selected for an interview, I spoke with BCG’s Booth recruiter for a half hour. I prepped with my NextStep coach beforehand so I felt ready for a whole range of behavioral questions.

At the start of my interview, the recruiter and I talked a little bit about our backgrounds (think “Walk me through your resume…”) and then she asked questions about why I was interested in consulting, why I wanted to participate in the BCG Fellows program, and what industries or functions I wanted to learn more about within BCG. That was it! The next week, I found out that I’d been selected.

So far, the experience has been great. I have an amazing mentor who works in the People and Organization Practice. Like me, she is passionate about developing and coaching people, advancing women in business, and exploring the outdoors.

McKinsey_Quarterly_logoMcKinsey Emerging Scholars
I also was thrilled to be selected as a 2018 McKinsey Emerging Scholar. The McKinsey Emerging Scholars experience was a little more intense, which meant that it took more preparation, but it also gave me a better idea of what being a consultant would be like.

It started with a resume drop. After I submitted my resume, I was told that I’d been selected for the next round and was asked to set aside 2.5 hours for interviews. These consisted of a half hour video screen with a recruiter and two hour-long video interviews with current consultants, half focused on behavioral questions, half focused on case questions.

I worked with my NextStep coach to prepare for my conversation with McKinsey’s Booth recruiter, which involved creating a slide that answered one of several prompts. I chose “What did you want to do when you were seven years old and why?” We worked together to make my slide shine and I practiced telling the story behind it. We also prepped answers to standard interview questions. In the end, I found the interview fun and conversational.

My slide for McKinsey

Then, my NextStep coach and I practiced a few cases to get used to the structured way that McKinsey likes to approach business problems. We ran through some common business issues, like profitability problems, launching a new product, and mergers. We discussed some frameworks to know what types of issues were important to consider.

That preparation made me feel less nervous going into the case portion of the interviews. For both case questions I was asked, I wasn’t familiar with the industries, so I wasn’t 100% sure I’d thought of all the important issues. The cases involved some basic math, which went fine on one…but on the other, I got nervous and somehow ended up off by a factor of 1000! When my interviewer told me that I’d lost her, I had to take a deep breath and start over, but eventually was able to spot and fix my mistake.

At the end of this month, all of McKinsey’s Emerging Scholars will be flown out to meet one another, our school recruiters, and consultants from various offices. Like the BCG Fellows program, McKinsey Emerging Scholars also offers a year-long mentorship, where you’re matched with someone with your same interests. I’m excited to meet everyone – based on our GroupMe conversations, they’re a really interesting bunch. (One woman is an ex-Black Hawk pilot – how cool is that?)

procter_and_gamble_P&G_stock_image_2Procter and Gamble MBA Brand Camp
I will be attending P&G’s MBA Brand Camp in Cincinnati later this summer and am looking forward to learning more about how the company regarded as “the gold standard in marketing” approaches problems and structures its thinking. The application process for P&G was unusual – it stretched over a few months, since they require several assessments.

First, I sent in my resume. Then, I was selected to do a psych and reasoning screen. This screen consisted of three parts. The first part posed hypothetical business situations focused on interpersonal relationships. For example, I was asked what I would do if I needed to buy office supplies with company money. The second part had a bunch of sliding scale questions where I said whether a statement like, “I often lie to coworkers to make my job easier,” sounded very unlike me, unlike me, like me, or very like me. (Very unlike me.)

The third part of the screen was a figural reasoning test. It presented me with a series of figures and I had to determine the pattern in order to identify the next figure in the series. As far as I could tell, it was a lot of color/shading, rotations, and adding or subtracting elements, like adding a dot every time, or subtracting a side from a polygon every time. It was like a brainteaser, but you only got two minutes to figure out each pattern and predict the next shape, and I timed out on some of the questions.

After I passed the screen, I had to take a proctored exam in a testing center. That exam covered math word problems, logic, and figural reasoning. The test lasted just over an hour.

Next, there was a two month wait until I got invited to interview. My interview ended up scheduled the same day that I was notified, which was a little stressful. However, I was able to text my NextStep coach and she found an hour right before my interview to practice with me.

We went over common behavioral questions and P&G’s “situational questions,” which are hypothetical interpersonal situations. Then we went over several marketing specific questions, like which P&G product was my favorite or what I felt were well-marketed products.

I’m excited to see some of those P&G products firsthand (and their famous archive of past iterations of those products) when I travel to the week-long brand camp in Cincinnati.

Jump_Start_Diversity_forumJumpStart Diversity Forum
JumpStart offers diversity programming focused on a range of industries (financial services, consulting, marketing). I went to the one focused on Brand Management.

The application process was simple – just a resume submission plus a few short answers. I found out almost immediately after I applied that I’d been accepted along with sixty other students to travel to Philadelphia for a two-day conference. Unlike the other pre-MBA programs, this one was self-financed.

Four companies came to JumpStart this year to recruit – General Mills, Danone, ConAgra, and Johnson & Johnson. The companies picked only a few candidates to interview. Some were selected before everyone arrived at the forum and others were selected after the case discussions and networking event.

I was nervous coming into JumpStart because I hadn’t been invited to interview anywhere. However, after talking to the recruiters at the networking event and participating in the case discussions, I was invited to interview with both Johnson & Johnson, as well as Danone (owner of Dannon yogurt and Silk Soymilk). I made it to the next round with Danone, which involved being flown out to their Broomfield, Colorado office for two days of meeting their team and interviewing for next summer’s internship. (We also got to see a Rockies game!)

Amazon_stock_photoAmazon Pre-MBA Summit
Because I signed a confidentiality agreement, I’m not allowed to give as many specific details about the Amazon pre-MBA summit application process. However, I can give you a broad strokes overview of what I experienced.

First, I sent in my resume, and found out quickly that I’d been invited to participate in their online assessment. The online assessment, in their words, is meant to simulate common situations that you might encounter as an MBA working at Amazon. A lot of people at my school opted not to participate because if you fail the online assessment, you’re not allowed to interview with Amazon during the normal recruiting season. However, after discussing it with my NextStep coach, we decided that I should still go for it because I was prepared from doing my other interviews.

The Amazon online assessment is broken into two parts. The major part is timed and runs for 90 minutes. You have five modules to complete and they cover various business situations where you’re making decisions on all the things you’d expect to have to think about as an MBA. They do not require specific functional knowledge or Amazon knowledge because you’re provided with context and data for each question. The next part is a short survey about your work interests, attitudes, and preferences. I can’t say much more, but it definitely reminded me a lot of P&G’s psych screen.

I’m still waiting on the results for Amazon, but if I’m accepted, I already know of one big perk – I won’t have to travel at all because I already live in Seattle!



Madeline Vuong is a guest writer for NextStep. She is currently attending Chicago Booth for her MBA.

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