Today marked the finals of the A.T. Kearney case competition.
Unlike the McKinsey case competition of a couple of weeks ago (of which I didn't participate in), we were given two weeks. McKinsey and the upcoming Deloitte competition is an overnight deal.
The teams were limited to 15, so luckily I grabbed a team up together and submitted to be part of the 15. The release of the case was on a Saturday. The next Friday, members of ATK returned to pose as the CEO, COO and the SVP of Strategy of the company in the case and we were required to simulate an interview - as we would with an actual consulting client. They then provided additional slides based upon our questions, and provided some quick feedback on our interviewing skills at the end of the interview. It wasn't actually part of the competition - i.e. bombing the interview wouldn't've screwed up your chances at the final.
One week after that, just right after finals, we had to submit the 10-slide deck with our presentation. This was a bit of a scramble to get that done because not only did we have finals, we all were going to Boston for the Consulting Trek that had been organized that weekend. But we made it.
Tuesday evening, and our team captain received the email telling him that we were in the finals!
Now... I had a big dilemma to face, and this is a big lesson to learn. I had signed up to attend the Net Impact Conference in Portland way back in July. As Boston Consulting Group (BCG) had attended the 2010 one, and at the time 2011 hadn't been released, I had thought that they would turn up again. They don't recruit on-campus. In addition, a couple of other consulting firms attended the career fair - Accenture, Deloitte, and DuPont (who has an internal consulting practice). Fast forward to September, and I sign up for ATK unaware that the final would overlap with the Conference. I continue to be blissfully ignorant until I actually started putting dates on my calendar and realised that the Net Impact career fair fell on the same Friday.
Now that I was in the final, I had to make a tough choice: go to Net Impact, make the connections with these firms, but let down my team and make a bad impression on ATK; or, stay in Pittsburgh, hope to win the final and get some monies, make a more substantial connection with ATK, but lose $600 (airfare and conference fee) and the opportunity to connect with the firms going to Net Impact.
BCG wasn't actually going to be there at Net Impact this year, so the big draw was no longer there.
I sent a frantic email to my Career Counsellor, who was awesome and squeezed me in on a cancelled appointment. She really helped me with the options available, and I left the meeting knowing that I would be here in Pittsburgh.
So Lesson: Don't commit to something unless you know you are free for all important dates.
We practiced for the final over the last couple of nights, and presented to three ATK judges. We were one of four finalists, so it's a nice resume add. Unfortunately, we didn't win.
It was a really great experience, and I'm starting to lean towards doing the Deloitte case competition... I initially was reluctant, but these are a little addictive.