When Berkeley Consulting was founded over 20 years ago, it was with the goal of bringing together some of the brightest minds at Berkeley to solve some of the toughest challenges in industry. ‘Brightest’ did not then and does not now mean ‘business experience’ or ‘marketing jargon’–it means being passionate about learning and bringing that excitement to breaking down our client’s problems. On that note our process also tries to screen for candidates who will be successful on our rigorous client engagements and while there is no universal predictor, we’ve found the following traits to correlate well with project success:
BC has built a reputation–both on campus and in industry–for delivering the highest quality solutions to a diversity of clients. The durability of this pursuit is concomitant with finding the highest quality applicants. Applicants who want to immerse themselves in an environment where everyday is learning something new and maybe teaching us something, too! At the end of the day, if this sounds like a mission you can get behind and the type of people you want to be surrounded by, BC could be a great fit and we would love to have you join us.
The first part of our application is the background section: transcript and resume. We only ask for the former to see what kind of academic interests you have pursued so an unofficial copy from CalCentral is fine. We ask for a resume to see how you spend your time outside of school. Putting together a resume can be daunting especially if it’s your first time, so here are some quick tips:
The second part is the essay section. The first prompt asks you to pick a company and discuss some changes you would make. The idea here is not to find candidates who have a business background or can look up buzzwords. We want to see how you would go about identifying problems and thinking about potential solutions. While it is important to have feasible suggestions, explaining your thought process and rationale is more important than the exact economic viability of your recommendations. Some common pitfalls to avoid:
The next prompt asks you to discuss something you are passionate about. "Passion" is a word that gets used a lot, even in this FAQ, but it is still an idea that is central to our organization and each of its members. At the risk of sounding like a college counselor, be authentic! We read a lot of these and it is pretty clear when a candidate actually cares about their topic and when they are just rewriting their resume. Some of our favorite essays have been about rock collecting, fonts, and water sports!
A quick note for our returning applicants: while it is fine to use a similar theme for your passion essay, we recommend that you pick a new company for the first prompt.
We’ve found the best way to gauge which candidates will be successful on BC engagements is to put them in our shoes. The case interviews are a close reflection of the actual consulting work we do for our clients, just condensed down to an hour. We want to stress that while this may seem like the most foreign part of the process very few BCers have case experience prior to these interviews. To help you prepare, here are some tips and thoughts that we’ve found useful:
We talk a lot about how we want applicants with interests from a broad spectrum, not just ones focused on business and consulting. This raises a fair question about transitioning from knowing nothing about a case to presenting in front of C-suite executives. Part of what BC prides itself on is new member ("newbie") integration.
Your first week in BC will be taken up by a bootcamp where senior members teach you the consultant’s toolkit–using Excel, making slide decks in PowerPoint, synthesizing market research, conducting interviews. More important than this first week is the network of mentorship that becomes available to you in the form of Senior Advisors–veteran BCers whose main job is to help you navigate the new world of your first consulting engagement. At the end of the day every engagement is a challenge–even for older members since no two clients are the same–so while you will be figuring things out and learning on the job, you will be doing it with the rest of your team!
On top of this, BC has given a lot of thought to creating formal, fair, and approachable channels by which even the newest members can talk about how they’re doing and voice any concerns they may have. We have appointed senior members who act as anonymous hotlines and a robust series of internal feedback forms that continually gauge how all members are integrating into BC.
At the end of the day, BC cares about making sure every member is getting the best possible version of their experience, starting from day one!
Our value proposition for applicants interested in pursuing consulting careers is clear–targeted preparation for future work and incredible relationships with alumni at these top firms. The appeal for non-consultants is a little less obvious but in our opinion even more powerful.
Talking to our alumni across industries from Google to The New York Times to even grad school reveals that the most successful employees (even for deeply technical positions) are seldom the most intelligent or hardest working. The ones who succeed take initiative and identify the pain points in a project; moreover they are ones who can quickly get up to speed and present potential solutions to senior managers. These are not skills you learn from CS or MCB classes, but rather from having experience breaking down actual industry issues and becoming an expert in a subject in 10 weeks. These are skills you learn from BC. Maybe you will never have to build a pitch deck as an engineer or policy advisor, but the career agnostic skills you gain from BC will translate to success in any career you go on to pursue.