Undergraduate recruiting season is in full swing! Rachel Wolf (Washington DC), Nungari Mwangi (Nairobi), Ameya Bhangle (Mumbai), and Pallavi Jayannavar (Mumbai) answer questions from candidates about their experiences as part of Dalberg’s first-ever analyst class.
How did you know Dalberg was the right place for you?
Rachel: I interviewed with the “big three” traditional management consulting firms. The neon sign that Dalberg was the one for me was how much I enjoyed my second-round case interviews. The subject matter of my Dalberg cases was how to help clients improve their ability to prevent disease, end poverty, and help the hungry feed themselves. It clicked that if I was going to spend all day trying to answer questions, it truly did matter which questions I was working to answer.
Nungari: I met the people! And then I decided to apply. I truly enjoyed my interviews – that’s how I knew Dalberg was a good fit. Everyone was super smart, very driven, and not afraid to think differently and propose fresh, rigorously thought-out formulas for development on the African continent.
Ameya: I always knew I wanted to join Dalberg! It seemed right for so many reasons – primarily the nature of the work, the people, the culture, and of course that I did not have to move to any other city!
Pallavi: Through previous internships, I’d had the chance to interact with Dalbergians and loved the work culture and portfolio of projects Dalberg Mumbai was involved in. Also, I graduated as an engineer and was involved with a lot of energy and environment work from a technical perspective. Dalberg allows me to work on similar issues, but I get to approach them from a different angle.
What was the biggest adjustment from college to working at Dalberg? Did anything surprise you?
Rachel: My biggest adjustment was keeping “real life” hours. The whole “no-classes-before-noon” program has somehow not caught on in the working world. What did surprise me, though, was how similar Dalberg is to college in terms of how much mentoring is available to me and how much support I receive. The amount of contact Dalberg analysts have with partners and senior managers is fantastic — I felt like a freshmen getting to take one-on-one courses with star professors my first semester.
Pallavi: Even though we approach our work the same way as other strategy consulting firms do, the office almost feels like a start-up, where everyone is encouraged to engage in discussions about the firm’s project portfolio, impact, and future strategy. There’s a sense of ownership at all levels here, which is I think is very important to mission-driven work.
What did you find the most challenging about starting your first job?
Ameya: Making myself focus on the details on a slide or excel data sheet. Most work in college is independent and independently evaluated, and you have to adjust for this when you’re working for a client.
Rachel: In college, you’re always receiving numerical feedback – scores on tests, grades on papers. Here, feedback is more qualitative, and focused around building skills and creating a good product with your team.
Nungari: The learning curve is steep, and the pace of my first project was fast. But I learned that if you are in constant communication with your team and really pay attention to their feedback, you learn much more quickly and easily.
Any additional advice for new recruits?
Nungari: Find someone you enjoy working with who likes to teach, and learn everything you can from them.
Ameya: Be proactive in internal meetings and make maximum use of opportunities to present your work. It’s the safest place you will get to test your presentation skills.
Pallavi: When trying to solve a problem for the client, make sure you think of the “whys,” the “so-whats” and the “hows.” For a mission-driven firm, it is absolutely necessary to question and, of course, to seek the right answers!
Rachel: The greatest gratification comes when you figure out how your piece of the puzzle fits into the big picture. Pay attention when your managers describe higher-level trends and concepts, even when it doesn’t have direct implications for your day-to-day. When you don’t have an immediate deadline, 15 minutes of big picture are always worth more than 15 minutes with your data (you’ll have plenty of minutes with your data, I promise!).