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CONSULTING CORNER

Hear about how one of our members got a BCG job offer

Carlo Cristobal, PhD
Consultant
Boston Consulting Group

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Carlo Cristobal is an incoming Consultant at Boston Consulting Group's Washington DC office. He completed his Ph.D. at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital in the laboratory of Dr. Hyun Kyoung Lee, where he studied nervous system development and regeneration.

 

He was involved in the CCTMC as AVP/Director for Finance and then as President. He was also co-founder and President of GradMAP Philippines, a 300+ member volunteer organization that helps Filipino students pursue graduate school in STEM at research institutions across the world. In his free time, he likes to read books, write, and exercise. In 2019, he was ranked in the top 3% of Taylor Swift listeners globally.

 

Join us for our conversation with our very own CCTMC member Carlo as we learn more about his journey transitioning from academia to consulting.
 

1. At what point during your Ph.D. did you decide that you wanted to be a consultant? How did you make the decision?

Looking for opportunities outside of academia, I decided on consulting in the third year of my Ph.D. Hearing from a CCTMC panel and meeting alumni consultants helped to solidify my career choice.

 

2. Did you have any trouble navigating research goals along with preparing for consulting?

It can be challenging to find a balance at times but it’s achievable and manageable. Personally, I focused on research during the first two years of my Ph.D. and then once I became comfortable from a research standpoint, I began to divide up my time to focus on research and consulting. Drawing inspiration from the book - Getting Things Done, I divided up the main goals for both the consulting club and research into smaller and achievable objectives every week. I would recommend trying out different systems and see what works best for you.

 

3. Did you communicate with your advisor regarding your goals to go for consulting? Did you receive any support from your advisor in this process?

I would recommend building a good rapport with your advisor and doing your best to deliver research output even with club responsibilities. I had not asked for permission to join the extracurriculars but I did mention that consulting was my top career choice during my committee meetings. 


4. When you were making that transition to doing both research and consulting, is there something you wish you did something or something you advise would be good to keep in mind?

One thing that I wish I could have done is to have been more intentional and proactive in networking and reaching out to people like alumni. I think that one thing people neglect is the value of getting to know people. Even knowing people who are not yet alumni but are on the way to consulting careers can be super helpful. I would recommend networking and making those key connections now. 

 

5. What kind of help did your network provide you?

Your network can provide helpful insight into the firm and its culture. This information can inform your decision-making on what to emphasize in the interview. I also received help from alumni for case practice, which provided a valuable perspective.

 

6.  Did you prepare for any other jobs besides consulting? Is it doable?

Consulting was my priority; I had made a list of 25 consulting firms that I would apply to. But, I had also considered other jobs like post-docs as a back-up which my strong research work had helped me prepare for. 

7. Can you suggest any tips on how to get through the screening round for consulting?

Choosing good case books and using case material provided by the firm. There are also many resources offered by the club. As for longer-term preparation, reading materials that are relevant to the subject matter like podcasts, newsletters, and books on business strategy can be helpful. Even though it’s a less direct way of preparation, it can be a great way to plug into knowledge for case interviews. For fit interviews, they look for teamwork and a good communication style – having the confidence to speak and how you communicate your stories like resolving conflict, taking action, etc. Therefore, public speaking opportunities and teamwork opportunities, such as clubs and leadership positions, can be a great way to prepare. 

8. What activities/leadership opportunities during your time as a Ph.D. student would you say were the most helpful in getting you your offer? How did you highlight that in your interview?

I was on the leadership team for CCTMC and started a volunteer organization. I highlighted the extracurriculars by telling the story of these experiences. For example, for the volunteer organization, I had to convince full-time scientists and  professors all across the world to join in. This was a helpful experience because they look for someone who can adapt to different situations and can take responsibility. When you elaborate on situations, it’s important to structure the story – framing the problem, giving proper context, the actions you took, and the key results. Also, it’s good to be conscious of who you are talking to and frame it best for them.

CCTMC was a great help since it facilitated the discovery phase and familiarization of the actual consulting tasks like case interviews. Attending workshops, working on teams, and organizing competitions were extremely important experiences for me. Having a supportive community can be a great help too since it helps create an environment that keeps you motivated. I had a great group of collaborative people around me the whole time I was preparing. I’d greatly encourage anyone interested in consulting to try out our activities and build their leadership skills by getting involved.