Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Crossing the finish line

The end of the summer has arrived, and it came much more quickly than I expected. Last Friday (the last day of the internship) I gave my final presentation, summarizing what I had learned over the summer at Bain. The final presentation is a chance for the partners (there were 4 in attendance) to see what you learned and how that fits into the big picture for your client. Although opportunities for public speaking never come without anxiety, I felt fairly comfortable presenting. It ended up being less formal and more conversational than I had expected.

Later that same day, I had a 15-minute appointment with a partner to discuss whether or not I would be getting a full-time offer to return in 2005. Needless to say, I was a bit anxious. At times during the project, I really wondered if I was meeting their high expectations. The most important determinant of getting an offer is your manager's evaluation of you did in terms of 1) value addition to the project, 2) client skills, and 3) team skills. My mid-summer review had in it some constructive feedback about the need to be aggressive in getting the data I was gathering. This feedback gave me a bit of "fire in the belly," both figuratively (greater tenacity in my competitor calls) and literally (indigestion resulting from anxiety... was I meeting expectations?). But in the end, all was well: they gave me an offer!

One thing I've learned in my experience this summer can be summarized by an analogy I heard this summer from a partner. He likened his experience at Bain to running a hurdle race. Before coming to Bain, you're used to clearing hurdles by a foot or so, winning a lot, and getting lots of praise. Upon joining Bain, the hurdles get a bit higher, tough to clear without nicking them on the way over. Then there would be times where you completely trip and fall on your face. Those who succeed are those who are able to pick themselves up, brush themselves off, keep going, and work to get better.

It may sound like a trite analogy, but it's a useful reminder as I think about career choices. It's not all about leveraging existing strengths, it's also about building new ones.

posted by Ryan : 1:50 PM | permalink

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