We caught up with Charlotte to find out about her experience at CIL Management Consultants.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hi, I’m Charlotte. I studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Bristol and graduated in 2020 – this was during Covid, so it was a bit of a strange time for everybody! Due to the situation, I decided to do a two year masters at the University of Oxford - I graduated in June this year and started at CIL in September. I’m still new to CIL but I’ve been really enjoying it so far! I knew by the end of my final year that consulting was something I wanted to go into. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to get the experience I was hoping to get that summer due to covid.
The time I took to complete my masters was really valuable, I was able to take a step back and think about what I wanted to do and what kind of experiences I wanted to get. I took my time with applications, and I found that the extra breathing space was helpful.
What inspired you to apply to CIL Management Consultants?
I knew that I wanted a career in consulting, but I studied politics - which isn’t a very natural transition. Those who study business or finance might find it’s quite clear that consulting could be a good fit from them. I had done some previous work experience, where I completed research for Bristol City Council. This used a lot of the same skills we use in the consulting industry. I researched the Youth Sector in Bristol which involved interviewing, building the models to see how they worked and figuring out how they could operate most effectively. I really enjoyed the challenge and the sort of questions that I had to tackle, but I wanted to move out of the politics and policy space. So, I started looking more into consulting and during my masters I secured an internship. When looking at which firms to apply to and attending insight days, I really liked that CIL was small but growing. I wanted to join a company where I felt more than just a number!
The firm is very welcoming, and everyone is supportive and friendly. This makes such a difference when you’re joining somewhere new - you want to feel part of the wider team and not just another person at the bottom of the ladder. I found the application process (and oddly enough the interviews) an enjoyable experience. When CIL called me with the offer, I felt sure of my answer as I understood the culture of the company.
Top tips for members who’d like to apply to CIL Management Consultants?
Don’t worry about having specific consulting experience. I didn’t do an internship with MBB or the big four, but I did get a wide range of experiences. You don’t have to have done the circuits of the big consulting firms, it’s more about you as a person – your motivations and skills you’ve developed.
For the process itself, really take your time on the application questions at the first stage of the process. You’ll have four questions you’ll need to answer alongside the aptitude test which tests skills such as logic. These form the basis of whether you’ll be invited to the next stage! These questions are your way of giving a good impression of who you are – make sure to put across your personal motivations as well as why you specifically applied to CIL. A lot of firms say this, and I do agree - they don’t want to read a response that could’ve been sent to any firm. There are some very specific things to CIL and the Frome office which are good to mention in your answers, it’s about showing you’ve understood the firm and the culture.
Describe a typical day in the life at the Frome office
The work is really varied which I love! In the morning we all make a coffee and get on with whatever we’re working on. I’ve being completing some analysis of secondary research, which has refreshed my knowledge of statistics - I even learned how to do a web scrape recently, which is a completely new skill for me. We’ll also have lunch together and recently, me and some other Analysts have been going for a short walk to get out of the office.
How would you sum up your experience of the culture at the Frome office?
The culture is so friendly and welcoming. As an office of around 40 people, in Frome you get to know everybody very quickly. It’s a flat hierarchy, you sit or eat lunch with everyone and anyone across the firm. You also get to know people on a more personal level, so if you do end up on a project with a Partner or Director it means you’ve already met and interacted with them. We also have a lot of social activities. For example, the office set up a game night in Bath on our first week. It was a nice way of chatting with others outside of the office space. I was a bit nervous in my first few weeks, but that quickly faded away once I got to know everyone.
What do you find most interesting about the sector?
I’ve only been at CIL for six weeks, but I’ve already supported projects across three sectors. There’s always something new to get your head around! You become a mini expert on a niche topic every four to six weeks. It’s quite fun getting to know all these facts about an industry you may have never heard of before and thinking about things from new angles. Personally, I knew I didn’t want to settle into doing the same thing every day in my career, so I love the variety of the work!
Have you faced any challenges in your role?
There’s a definitely a steep learning curve. Even if you have all the right skills, every project you go onto is brand new. You have to figure out quite quickly what the business is, what they do and this needs to be done fast! When I joined, I wasn’t too familiar with some of the tools CIL uses. For example, I’d never used Excel other than for a shopping list or a calendar. I suddenly had to get to grips with quite complex Excel formulas and feel comfortable when faced with these things during real projects, so this was quite a challenge! Everyone is super supportive and there’s lots of internal resources and training modules you can use, and I found these really helpful.
How has Bright Network helped you in your career search?
I visited CIL’s profile on Bright Network to get more of an insight! Consulting can be quite opaque; you can read a company website but still not really understand what it is they do. So, reading about the experiences of individual people who were in a similar position to me put things in simpler terms and helped me understand the firm’s culture.
Anything else you’d like to add?
When you’re invited to interview, you are assigned a mentor – this is someone at CIL who you can talk to throughout the process. It’s not monitored by recruitment and it’s in place for you to ask questions. So, make the most out of them as they’ve very recently been in the same position as you. I asked my mentor lots of questions that meant I was able to get clarity and talk more confidently in my interview. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
If you want to follow in Charlotte's footsteps - check out CIL's profile.