Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has more than 90 offices in over 50 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa; in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear from Sarah Doyle, Cornell Johnson MBA ’20, who pursued a summer internship with BCG in the D.C. area and loved it so much, she went back full-time. Read about Sarah’s business school journey and her career advice for prospective MBAs below.
Hometown: Harwich, Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Johns Hopkins University — International Studies and French Literature
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 2020
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 8 years, international development & social entrepreneurship
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 1.5 years, Consulting
Why did you choose to attend business school?
After many years of managing teams and growing startups, I thought I was reaching the limits of my intuition and it was time to go back to school to learn the hard skills and best practices.
Why Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
My career has been driven by learning and growing, while also having an impact on the communities in which I live and work. Cornell’s Two-Year MBA allowed me to continue to prioritize both. I was able to take challenging classes, assume leadership roles within the community, and volunteer in the broader Tompkins County community.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career at BCG?
Many aspects of Johnson prepared me for a career in consulting. The Consulting Club and Big Red Consulting ensured I had the practical understanding of what was required to land the offer. The focus on teaming and the importance of feedback during the Core and beyond equipped me to be a strong contributor on my case teams, both in terms of the client output and the team culture. Finally, the diversity of classes provided me with a breadth of knowledge that I continue to draw on as I join new case teams – everything from financial modeling and private equity to strategic analysis & planning.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I had a consulting internship during business school. I used that summer to determine whether consulting was, in fact, the career route I wanted to try post-MBA. I had a wonderful experience and elected to go back full-time to the firm I interned with.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Similar to why I chose Johnson, I chose a consulting firm that allows me to pursue all of my interests, while maintaining a strong connection to social impact. I have been able to pursue my interests in global health, education, private equity, retail and the public sector, while also supporting pro-bono work with minority-founded startups and sitting on our office’s Racial Equity Committee, where I support our partnership with a local non-profit.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID has forced consulting firms to rethink how we provide the same quality of service to our clients without being present at their offices four days a week. It has not been without its challenges, but with new norms for virtual teaming and open communication around travel and sustainability, I’m more excited than ever about continuing my consulting career.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Don’t pursue a recruiting path or a specific role just because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do as an MBA. Take the time early on to think through your values, passions and career goals and pursue the opportunities that fit within that framework; anything else is likely a waste of your valuable time and energy.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Trust the recruiting process. It’s very easy to feel like you need to be doing more or that you need to be working on everything from your resume to case in Week 1. There is a sequence, and everything is not critical from the start, so be deliberate about what you’re preparing for and when you actually need to be focused on it. Burnout is real during the first quarter, so manage your energy accordingly.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
No major surprises: the Consulting Club did a great job at preparing us for the different processes for each firm.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
You can’t do it all at all times, so know where you want/need to focus that day/week/month and be ok with other stuff falling a bit behind. First quarter will likely be recruiting and classes, while the 2nd may be more about building connections with your classmates. Take full advantage of everything the MBA experience has to offer; know what you want to get out of it and regularly assess whether you’re creating the space for yourself to achieve those things.