Doostang News Apr23: The Ins and Outs of Consulting

International Consultant, New York, NY Summer Intern, Consulting & Strategy, Boston, MA

PE/HF Business Consultant, Washington, DC

Hedge Fund Internship, New York, NY

Senior Manager, Strategy & Business Development, Miami, FL

Venture Capital/Private Equity Associate, San Francisco, CA

According to our numbers, about 63% of you have indicated consulting as a career interest. That’s more people than live in Pittsburgh, so we took a break from finding over 400 awesome new Premium Jobs this week to do some homework.

Let’s be honest: hiring targets at consulting firms are down, but do take a moment to check out the nearly 1,000 consulting jobs on Doostang. Focus on small pockets where hiring is happening, for instance, Energy, Supply Chain and Healthcare consulting.

Then read our interview with Mada. Whether you’re transitioning into or out of consulting, we think you’ll find her story relevant. After completing her Master’s at Stanford, Mada moved onto Deloitte and then a start-up, Yola, and she was kind enough to speak with us about her path.

From Consulting to a Start-up with Mada Seghete

How did you get into consulting originally? What motivated that choice?

In grad school, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after I got my degree or what type of business would be the best fit for me. I knew I wanted to try many different things, and consulting seemed like the best choice for that.

What do consulting firms look for in a candidate?

Consulting firms are really looking for just a few basic characteristics. First, they want to be confident that the candidate would represent the company competently in front of a client. You can’t underestimate the importance of people skills. Secondly, they want to know how well the candidate can analyze a problem and whether that person can easily adapt to different projects and environments. And finally, they are looking for someone who fits the culture of the company. 

What are the most valuable experiences/skills you gained in consulting?

The best thing about consulting was the diversity of things I was doing at any one time. I got to work on strategy, financial, and pro-bono projects, led activities in recruiting, and got papers published. I most valued the projects that I did for smaller firms. Overall, I feel like I gained very good analytical skills, and I learned a lot about delivering a good presentation. Overall, it was a great experience, and Deloitte was a great place for me. 

What has the transition from consulting to Business Product Manager at a start-up been like?

I’m not going to lie, it’s been very different. I see the same people everyday, I don’t travel, I feel like I get things done rather than simply advise. I must say I have loved every minute of it. Yola is such an amazing environment — I can bring my puppy to work, and although we all work very hard, we always have a really good time together. It’s almost a paradox. It feels a lot more laid back than consulting, but at the same time, my work is a lot more intense. I know everything I do has a direct impact on our goals and that kind of responsibility is great.

What do you think gave you an edge over other candidates when interviewing at Yola?

They were looking for someone with enough technical experience to understand the product, but also the business acumen to manage big projects. I had worked as a developer before Deloitte, so that took care of the technical experience. Consulting really helped me on the business side. Also, it helped that I was really passionate about the product — I put a lot of work into buidling my own website, I followed Web 2.0 trends, and I really did my research.

Why did you decide to go to grad school and how has that choice impacted your career? I decided to go to grad school mainly because I knew I didn’t want to be a developer (http://www.doostang.com/search?search_query=software+developer)  in the long term (my undergrad was in electrical and computer engineering). I loved coding, but I felt that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.  Grad school changed my life. It propelled me into a completely different direction, and I learned I loved business, strategy and design. I use things I learned in school every day at work, whether it’s a marketing framework, a way to approach our users, or a presentation. What role had being an international student/job candidate played in your career?

It has always been harder as an international person. I always felt I had fewer choices, and I had to find jobs earlier. I think as I have gained more experience, things have become easier, but I definetly had a hard time in the beginning. The worse time was when I didn’t get my H1B visa with my first company, Siemens, and I had to leave when my OPT (Optional Practical Training) expired. Fortunately, I was accepted into Stanford, so I just took the summer off and travelled for a month around the country. What advice do you have for international students/employees in the present job market? Start you job search early! Make sure you know your options, talk to your school’s international students office as much as you can. Go to workshops, and tell your employers about your situation early on. Do lots and lots of research and for every form that you are asked to submit, make it your top priority to send it out as soon as you can.

See Mada’s profile. Learn more about Yola.

How can we help you out with your career transition? Submit your questions and we’ll answer them.

Class of 2009 – Your Number’s Almost Up

Graduation is coming and all you keep hearing is that hiring is down by 22% for graduating students. For those of you who are interested in consulting, the good news is the majority of consulting recruiting happens on campus – for graduating seniors and MBAs alike. The bad news? Well, that stat we won’t repeat makes every industry all the more competitive these days.

Whether you’re set on consulting, or looking for an alternative, allow us to step on the soapbox for approximately 30 seconds.

You’ve invested in your education and you deserve the best. Know that, take a deep breath, and please do let us know how we can help.

May your day trend upward and to the right,

Team Doostang

Doostang News Apr2: Start-ups on our Mind…

We’ve got start-up on the brain. The Web 2.0 Expo’s going on in San Francisco this week, The Twitter whale’s working overtime, and company names are becoming verbs, adverbs and – dare we hope – conjunctions en masse.

Many of you have written in and told us you’d like to join a start-up, and we find it hard to disagree, especially after talking to Azeem.

Azeem was kind enough to offer up his experience doing BizDev for a mobile app analytics start-up, and guess what? He was a investment banker before, for those of you looking to transition out.

The Start-up Life at Pinch Media in New York

What’s Pinch Media?

Pinch Media is a smartphone application analytics company, focused on providing app publishers with relevant metrics in gauging usage of their applications. TThe company was founded on April 1, 2008 (yesterday was our one year anniversary!) by Greg Yardley (CEO) and Jesse Rohland (Lead Developer).” I came on board about 6 months ago, as the first business/non-technical hire. We are currently a team of 6 full-time (1 CEO, 1 lead developer, 3 developers, and myself in BD – and we are backed by Union Square Ventures and First Round Capital.

Describe a day in your life doing BizDev there.

Every day at Pinch is different, and I’m usually doing a variety of things at any given time. A large part of my job involves connecting with new strategic partners and potential users, as well as brainstorming opportunities with companies/developers that are currently using our service, but are looking for more. This also entails keeping up on developments in our space (smartphone applications), learning from developers and companies that are doing interesting things, and gauging strategies that might make sense for us to employ. Because the mobile app space is so new (it was really just born in its present form this past year, with the iPhone app-store), there’s always new things to learn. Being at the nexus of this space and helping others learn through us has definitely been fun, and is a constant part of my job.

Needs always change, and the most rewarding part of being at a startup is wearing multiple hats. During fundraising, I spent a large part of my time on strategy and modeling. Right now, I am focusing alot more on operational execution. Evangelization is always a part of the job as well; I have given talks at a few mobile conferences/meetups within the past few months. Altogether, I do not think I could have gotten this rich of an experience anywhere other than at a startup; it’s really great to help build all of these various facets of a company, from the absolute ground up, and I have had a complete blast doing it so far.

How’d you find your job?

I was particularly interested in either pursuing venture capital, or business development and/or strategy at a VC-backed startup. I reached out directly to a number of companies in the New York area, specifically those backed by some of the more prominent east coast VCs (like Union Square Ventures, in this case). I met the team at Pinch, felt positively about the opportunity; the team felt likewise, and here I am now.

The one important thing I realized in pursuing a business role at a startup (and at seed-stage VCs for that matter), is that the process can be an “entrepreneurial” one, in and of itself. Pinch Media did not have an actual position in place; I reached out, and there was a mutual fit, so I was brought on board. This process is similar to that of many others I know, who currently work at startups.

What’s the transition from banking to a start-up been like? What advice do you have for those looking to make a similar transition?

I had been looking to ultimately enter a bd/strategy role at a startup ever since I started my career in investment banking (I was at Houlihan Lokey before transitioning into my current position). I have worked mostly on M&A transactions and some private/venture-stage financings, in the tech and interactive media space; so, having an intimate familiarity with digital/interactive media and tech companies via the deals I have done certainly helped.

Nonetheless, at first I was a little worried that I was ill-prepared for the type of position I wanted; most friends of mine in similar roles come from a management consulting background. However, I found that my skill sets from banking were definitely transferable: systematic way of analyzing companies, modeling during fundraising, and even softer skills like tracking deal pipelines (did not realize how important this was until this job), being able to manage a general deal process etc etc.

The biggest difference from finance is learning to work in a completely unstructured environment. If you are the entrepreneurial type, this is the perfect environment to thrive in; however, coming from investment banking, it still takes some time to get rid of your “analyst/associate” mindset. Of course, this depends on the size of the startup in question; but on the whole, you have alot more room for exploration and intellectual curiosity: very different environment from investment banking. And in fact, at a startup, exploration and intellectual curiousity are absolute necessities, given the job.

In terms of finding a job like this, to reiterate, the biggest advice I have is to approach the process in an entrepreneurial fashion; do not rely on headhunters, etc., but instead, directly reach out to startups (and their VCs, as they keep a pulse on roles that need to be filled for portfolio companies) regardless of whether they have positions listed. And of course, apply to roles you find on Doostang, Startuply, and other sites you come across.

Has your experience impacted your career plans? How?

It definitely has; I have a much clearer picture of what I like and dislike about tech entrepreneurship, and this has made me alot smarter about my options going forward. The good thing about working for a startup is having the option to learn on someone else’s account, so to speak; if/when I decide to found a company, I’ll have the professional maturity of having essentially gone through it once before, which is clearly a positive.

Venture capital and/or growth private equity are strong and very natural career directions as well; having first-hand operational experience will tremendously help in pursuing roles in either of these fields (versus only having advisory experience).

View Azeem’s profile.. Learn more about Pinch Media.

Why do you love your start-up job? We want to know!

Finding a start-up job on Doostang

Start-up job listings have found a natural home on Doostang. We’re a Silicon Valley startup ourselves, and we have a strong track record placing venture capitalists who often help their portfolio companies recruit through Doostang.

Even as we type, there are a bunch of cool opportunities out there – doing BD (like Azeem!) in New York for early stage advertising start-up or in London for a green start-up, Product management in LA for a car-pricing information service, even online marketing for Doostang. ;)

Beyond listings, don’t forget Azeem’s point about being entrepreneurial in your search itself. Start-ups change – quickly – and most don’t have in-house recruiters. What does this mean for you? That often creating the opportunity in a start-up is the name of the game. If you know a company you want to work for, search for people who work there. If you don’t, check out your inside connections on our start-up listings and ask for advice. Network, be hungry, foolish, network. Repeat.

Our members have gotten jobs at AdBrite, Facebook, Yelp, The Frontier Strategy Group and more. You can get a cool start-up job too – just be open-minded in your approach.

Is your start-up hiring? Post your opening on a start-up friendly budget (free), and reach the best of the best.

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Whatever you do, just don’t make a grown man cry. 10 bucks to the first person to get that reference.

Team Doostang