How to crack a non Engineering role at Google through a Masters program?

Journey from undergrad to Masters and after:

  • I grew up in India and did the majority of my education there. My undergraduate major was computer science engineering. After graduating from undergrad, I joined a data & analytics company called Mu Sigma. They basically help Fortune 500 companies solve their business problems using data. I learned how to build dashboards, storytelling, and improved my business acumen. The company had an onsite-offshore model and I realized that I would love to be part of the onsite team. They are the primary point of contact with the client and get to see the impact of our solutions in real-time. 
  • In order to make that happen, I knew that I need to improve my communication and leadership skills. At that point, I came across the MEM program at Duke which was the perfect fit for me. The MEM program as I like to describe it is halfway between a technical masters and an MBA. And the program has a huge focus on extracurriculars and student life. Through all the clubs, I got a chance to improve my leadership skills. I was the President of the Consulting Club and the President of PDC, which is like the student body overseeing all the clubs. Duke was an amazing experience and I learned so much about different industries and different job roles. After graduating, I joined Altman Solon, which is a TMT focused boutique consulting firm. 
  • Altman solon was also an amazing experience. It is a very analytically inclined firm and I learned a ton on how to make financial models, drive primary and secondary research, and engage senior stakeholders at some of the top private equity and corporate firms. 
  • After about 2.5 years at Altman Solon, I had learned a lot about strategy work and I was looking to gain more operational exposure where I can work with clients day in and day out to execute a strategy. So, I switched to BCG to focus on more operational intensive projects like digital transformation, next-gen sales strategy execution, etc. 
  • BCG was an incredible experience. It was everything that I hoped it would be. I worked on some really high impact problems in the Tech, Healthcare, and Energy space. Working regularly with clients gave me a chance to understand the operational inefficiencies that exist in large companies. And I also got several opportunities to present my recommendations to senior executives including members of C-suite.
  • I left BCG a couple months ago to join Google as a Strategy & Operations Lead. I am still early in my role but it has been absolutely incredible so far.

Q- For anyone targeting consulting firms and non engineering roles, what advice would you give them to navigate the job search?

  • Networking is key. It all starts with reaching out to people who are already in the roles and firms that you want to work at. Although consulting is one big umbrella term, there is a huge difference in the culture and projects at different firms. I advise everyone to use networking to figure out what kind of projects people are working on, what career progression looks like, and how the culture is at the firm. These conversations can help you shortlist companies that are the right fit for you. You can find people through Linkedin, campus career events, and recruiter reach out. There are some other creative ways to reach out to people and I recommend reading the book called “The two hour job search”, which goes into tactical details about how to network effectively.
  • Another big part of recruiting is preparing for case interviews. However, each firm puts its own spin on cases, so it is vital to prepare for the correct style. I recommend starting off with reading through “Case in Point” and then customize your approach based on interview style.

Q- Was there anything about Consulting that you were surprised to find out?

  • Yeah I guess one thing that was surprising and in a wonderful way was how invested people were in my growth. There is a strong mentorship culture and people go out of their way to support you in your development. It was particularly true at BCG where my mentors helped me in numerous ways. Whether it is creating opportunities for me to work on the projects that I wanted to work on or helping create connections with other leaders inside and outside of BCG or just general advice and guidance. It was unlike anything I had experienced before.
  • Besides that, I don’t think there were any surprises. And to be honest, I had done my research to know what I was signing up for. Consulting sets you up for a high growth trajectory with a steep learning curve and therefore it comes with some obvious challenges. I knew the work life balance would be tough and I was mentally prepared for it. And I knew it was going to come with a fair degree of stress. So, all in all pretty much in line with what I had expected.

Q- Why did you decide to leave Consulting and join Google?

  • Several reasons but let me talk about the 2 main reasons. Firstly, I wanted to see how a strategy becomes reality on the ground. Typically, as consultants we come in for 3 months to define the strategy and then we hand that over to our clients, who are then responsible for implementing the strategy. I felt a lack of satisfaction to not be able to see my recommendations come to life. 
  • Secondly, I was ready for more work life balance. After 4 years in consulting, I realized that it was time to start focusing on my hobbies and other things outside of work. I needed a much more sustainable work life balance and I knew it would be really hard to make that happen in consulting. 

Q- Tell me more about how recruitment worked post consulting. And why did you choose your current role at Google?

  • Recruitment post consulting was pretty easy. BCG provides you with a lot of resources to set you up for success. I had paid time off for 2 months where my only goal was to find a job. And I had a career services advisor guiding me throughout the entire process. Also, it didn’t hurt that the job market was pretty hot so I was getting a lot of inbound requests from top companies. And finally, I was in touch with BCG alumni at companies that I wanted to work at, who provided me with a ton of great advice. So, all in all, it was a really easy process – which again shows the amount of support and investment that the top consulting firms put in your success.  
  • As for why Google, there were a couple offers that I was fortunate enough to choose from. While shortlisting, my two main criteria were 1) a role that balances strategy and operations and 2) a role that promotes work life balance. Among the different offers, Google’s role was most in line with my two key criteria.

Hence, the biggest takeaway in the whole process was to make sure that I build on those non-technical skills in the beginning of my career, get my foot into consulting/non-engineering role through targeted networking that helped develop and hone in on those skills and then pull the trigger for a similar role at Google.

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