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How I Landed a BCG Internship as a Freshman 👨💼
On securing prestigious internships at a young age
We have something special for you.
Every few weeks or so, we’re inviting a guest writer to share their insights and experiences in various fields.
That being said, please welcome our first ever guest writer: Rafsi Albar, the Director of Strategy & Growth at 180DC UGM, who landed an internship at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in his freshman year!
How did he do it, and what can we learn from his story?
Hi, Rafsi here.
Students today have become aware of career life more than ever. Since the pandemic started, more students—even those in high school—have registered to platforms like LinkedIn and looked for internships, especially in prestigious companies.
In the next few minutes, I’ll share how I managed to get into one of the most coveted student internship programs in Indonesia, BCG Jakarta’s Giving Back Project, in my second semester.
1. Define your path and devise your plan
Let me start with something that is so obvious, yet so rarely practiced well these days: planning.
Planning is important to secure internships for 2 reasons. The first one is for the employer to be sure that you’ll be a productive ‘asset’ by actually being committed to the task. On the other hand, you’ll also be able to maximize your experience well.
To do that, I highly recommend a 3-step approach:
Define your purpose using frameworks like Ikigai
Set milestones in increments of 1 year for at least the next 5 to 10 years
Create an individual development plan (IDP) every year to break down your activities
Take my own example: I knew that to reach my goal within the next 5 years, I needed to develop my business acumen by doing startup and consulting internships. And those were exactly what I did in my first year.
2. Learn by way of experiencing
I believe that the greatest learning comes not from textbooks, but the practice of knowledge.
It really struck me when I did the last round of case interviews. I’ve always liked case interviews and practiced a lot, but if there’s one thing I realized then, it was that most of those framework shortcut memories would be scrambled once you have to calculate in front of an associate or, at times, even a partner.
In what could only be described as the longest 10 minutes of my life, I remembered a thinking framework that I developed during a project at 180DC UGM. That one recall helped me stand out from the rest of the candidates—the last round was in a group setting—and come up with the most relevant answer figure.
Joining a student consultancy like 180DC or doing smaller internships would come in handy, especially when you can only rely on your subconscious mind to reason and crunch numbers under pressure.
3. Do things right, one at a time
Back to my previous point on having a long-term plan, I would suggest anyone put much thought into their current and upcoming activities.
Learning through experiences is important, and it also means making the most out of each one; something you can only achieve by not rushing into anything.
This might sound counterintuitive to those hustle motivations out there telling you to grind 24/7, but I simply think that you don’t have to force yourself to achieve things at a super-accelerated pace. Take your time.
I didn’t start out directly in a top firm—as if they’re even going to consider me at the time. In my first semester, I joined an organization and built another.
From there, I had the modalities to intern at a startup, and then the consulting firm by the end of my second semester.
Things take time, and so should you. Getting into an MBB firm—also known as the Big Three in the consulting industry—as a freshman sounds awesome, but it’s not for everyone.
Everyone has their own timeline. You shouldn’t be worried about being left behind, as long as you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.