The following are a collection of fails that summer analysts/associ-ates made in my years as a Deloitte Consulting recruiter that have led to t-hat unfortunate (a mutually uncomfortable) end of summer conversa-tion where we regret to inform you that you will not be returning.
(WTF? Where’s my return offer?)
(Where’s my return offer? I’m Screwed)
(10 Simple Steps to be a Bad Summer Intern)
(Don’t make these 10 mistakes and lose your valuable return offer)
It’s over. Two recruiting seasons, ten tailored resumes, twenty cover letters, less than desired number of interviews, and countless minutes chatting about project work and vacation plans over hors d’oeuvre and cocktails have led to a single email in your inbox on what should have been the most excruciating, yet exhilarating part of your academic career: “Congratulations! I am pleased to confirm your offer to join our 2017 Summer Associate Consultant Intern Program…”
What could possibly stand between you and a one-way ticket to happiness (and fortune)?
Not getting a return offer.
The following are a collection of fails that summer analysts/associates made in my years as a Deloitte Consulting recruiter that have led to that unfortunate (a mutually uncomfortable) end-of-summer conversation where we regret to inform you that you will not be returning.
1.Having a bad attitude
Your positive and diligent attitude in doing basic tasks will resonate far beyond the tasks themselves. Your team members know tasks like printing and buying coffee are trivial. They understand that your intellectual capabilities are far beyond this. But keep in mind, they were you at one point.
As a summer analyst on a project, think about this. If you don’t do this, who will? So do it with a smile and your positive attitude will be remembered.
2.Making repeated mistakes on simple tasks
Analysts are often assigned the “grunt” work that nobody wants to do but needs to be done. This includes formatting and editing PPTs, organizing Excel spreadsheets, making copies, ordering lunch for the team and client, etc.
These are tasks that you AND your team know you have full capability of doing well. However, it is very easy to make mistakes if you are not paying attention to detail and triple-checking your work. Sure it may not be a big deal once or twice, but if you consistently make repeated, avoidable mistakes, you will leave a seriously bad impression. If you can’t be trusted to do this level of work error-free, how can you be trusted to do something more important?
3.Not asking for feedback
“Success does not mean not failing. But it does mean not failing at the same things over and over again with or without knowing it.”
In the event that you do not know what you were doing is wrong and nobody tells you, you could ‘fail’ repeatedly and not even know about it until you arrive at that uncomfortable end-of-summer conversation where they regret to inform you that you did something wrong that nobody told you about but everyone remembered.
Prevent yourself from falling down this rabbit hole by PROACTIVELY (see point 6) setting up recurring weekly check-ins with your direct lead and recurring bi-weekly check-ins with your engagement lead throughout your internship to discuss personal progress and improvement areas. Doing so will not only allow you to gain some valuable professional feedback but allow you to avoid some nasty surprises by identifying and addressing problem areas promptly.
4.Not improving in improvement areas
What’s worse than not asking for feedback is receiving the feedback but not visibly and intentionally acting upon it. When your direct report and engagement lead tell you your “improvement areas and opportunities”, what they really mean is they do not like these things so you better CHANGE. And quickly. That is their expectations.
By repeatedly making the same avoidable mistakes such as poor formatting, data-usage, storyboarding, etc. and not PROACTIVELY (see point 6) reaching out for help and displaying progress, you may be assigned to do more research-based or clerical tasks.
Not making intentional effort to pay attention to and address your improvement areas is a sure-fire way to lose your return offer because this not only reflects a poor working attitude and ethic, but more importantly your lack of ability/willingness to be coached, which is the whole point of the internship program.
5.Making the client mad
This is an obvious one. At the end of the day, management consulting is a client-facing, client-centric role which means the relationship with the engagement key client (the individuals that hired your team or work directly with you from the client’s company) is as important if not more important than the deliverables you make.
Making the client mad for any reason not only reflects poorly on your ability as a consultant to manage client expectations (key consultant skill), but more so upon your direct report and engagement lead’s inadequacy in managing their team.
Therefore, as you can logically deduce, if you make the people who determine whether or not you get a return offer look bad and negatively impact their performance, you can kiss your return offer goodbye.
6.Exhibiting low drive, frustration, and/or a general negative attitude
You are young. Regardless of how old you think you are, you are very young in the eyes of your direct report and engagement lead. Being young in this ‘exciting, engaging, and challenging’ environment should make you feel excited, engaged, and challenged, at least that’s the expectation from your team.
If you find what you’re doing to not be challenging enough, PROACTIVELY (again, see point 6) set up time with your lead to discuss your thoughts. If you find what you’re struggling with a certain aspect of the job, show your positivity and willingness to learn how to improve.
Thus, if you want to secure that return offer survive in the management consulting world, you better show that you can not only survive but you thrive in it. Or they’ll find someone else who can.
7.Not being proactive
If you are proactive, you make things happen, instead of waiting for them to happen to you.
It means taking time to reflect upon your own performance and take charge of your own development by looking for ways to increase your strengths further and address your weaknesses whether it’s through self-drive improvement or asking for guidance and support. By seeking out and actively learning from the people you work with, you will not only gain valuable knowledge and skills, you will also impress your lead with your willingness to learn.
It means doing whatever it takes to do things to the best of your ability even if it means going out of your way to do work that is above and beyond your team’s expectations. If you think something could be done better or you have suggestions for improving the performance of the team, set up time with your lead and discuss your ideas professionally and articulately.
8.Being a BAD team player
On 99% of consulting projects, you will be working in a team, big or small. If other people on your project team do not like you, especially if your direct report or engagement lead does not like you, you will not get a return offer.
To be a bad team player means a few things. On the more obvious end, it means being rude, irresponsible with your work and others’ requests, overtly aggressive, etc. when working with your teammates. In more subtle ways, it means being distant, disengaged, low energy/bad mood, and any other ways you bring the team mood down, intentional or otherwise.
9.Being on your phone or social media all the time
The worst thing to do while everyone else is busy is to be, or even appear to be, not busy yourself. There is no more obvious way to show your disengagement and lack of interest than to be on your phone, especially during critical times.
Getting caught being on social media or on your phone doing personal things will not get your phone taken away like in elementary school, but it will knock more than a few points off your performance evaluation. After a few incidences, your return offer may be swept away just as carelessly.
There’s a saying that a little humility goes a long way. Consulting is cool. Flying first (from a free upgrade) and getting your lunches and dinners paid is awesome. You’re pretty awesome and smart for getting a management consulting internship offer. We get it.
Whether it’s in front of your team or even more importantly, in front of your client, always show that you are willing to learn and do not put others down. Do not mention how you got offers at other firms or you’re too smart to be “doing this”. Always listen to the client to focus on their needs, not yours.
Again, unless your displayed arrogance is beyond tolerance, you may find that no one talks to you about this yet you surprisingly didn’t get a return offer and a “mysterious” ding in your performance evaluation.