Even if you’ve spent some time reflecting on your goals, the first year of an MBA is so full of networking events, coffee chats, meet and greets, applications, and interview prep that your time management skills are quickly put to the test. Managing these endeavors, as well as class and social responsibilities, can be challenging, and knowing what to prioritize is key. I’ll be chatting with my fellow classmates and asking them to share insights, experiences, and advice to help you navigate the process when the time comes. I’ll post a series of blogs, each covering a different industry/function.
This part of the recruiting series focuses on healthcare. I asked Sarika Asthana, Ellen Lesser, and Matt Goldstein, Class of 2021, to share their experiences and provide students with advice on how to navigate the recruitment process. Each of them worked in a different function in the healthcare industry, so I was able to gather different point of views.
Where was your internship and what was your role?
Sarika: I interned at Genentech as a Finance Summer Associate. I worked on strategic projects related to R&D and global manufacturing finance.
Ellen: I had two internships in my first year at Booth. I served as an Investment Associate at 7wireVentures, a digital, health-focused venture capital firm based here in Chicago, during Winter and Spring Quarters. In this role, I evaluated early-stage companies and created market maps for a variety of topics, such as sleep and oncology. Over the summer, I was a Pharmaceutical Marketing Summer Associate at Pfizer. For that role, I worked in the Rare Disease Business Unit on the Payer and Access team, developing training and promotional materials for sales and field colleagues and generating content for a patient support program.
Matt: I interned as a Consultant at The Chartis Group, a boutique healthcare management consulting company.
Had you worked in the field previously or did you pursue an MBA as an opportunity to pivot?
Sarika: Before Booth, I was a management consultant for large US healthcare insurance clients. I pursued an MBA to pivot from consulting to a different sector of the healthcare industry (biopharma) and to change functions.
Ellen: I worked for Deloitte Consulting prior to business school, serving a range of payor, provider, and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients across primarily strategy and operations functions. I, too, wanted to utilize my time at Booth to explore new sectors (digital health/pharmaceuticals) and functions (venture capital/marketing) within the healthcare space.
Matt: I was in the financial services industry working as a product manager; so, I used my MBA to pivot both function and industry!
Career Services offers both on campus and specialized search for recruiting. Which did you utilize?
Sarika: I did both on campus and specialized search for recruiting. Genentech (the company I ended up at) was an on-campus recruiter.
Ellen: I also utilized both on campus and specialized search processes for recruiting. Venture capital is very much a specialized search process, and I was fortunate to benefit from a longstanding relationship between 7wire and Booth. For my summer role, I was very focused on being on the East Coast (this was prior to the shift to virtual due to COVID-19), so I continued pursuing a specialized search pathway. I ended up using on campus recruiting to land the role with Pfizer, another healthcare company with a strong recruiting history at Booth!
Matt: I got my internship and did most of my internship search through on campus recruiting, however, there were a few companies I looked at through specialized search.
How many companies do you think someone interested in healthcare roles should focus on?
Sarika: This depends on how flexible you are on things like sector of the industry (payer, provider, biopharma, health tech, etc), geography, and function. While it is good to have preferences or priorities, I recommend applying broadly (8+ companies) to explore opportunities for your internship. As you go through the recruiting process, you can start narrowing down your options as you learn about different companies, cultures, and roles.
Ellen: It definitely depends on the individual as Sarika mentioned – some people are laser focused from the start and already know exactly which roles and companies appeal to them, while others may want to use the recruiting process to explore a variety of job types and further gather information. I did a lot of research upfront, but then took a narrower approach with the application process. I spent my time getting to know a few key companies well so that I could not only display genuine interest but also take a really in-depth look at which roles would be the best fit for me.
Matt: It’s tough to say given there are so many sub-industries and functions that could be considered “healthcare.” If someone is recruiting for one function and one sub-industry, probably 5-7. If they are recruiting in multiple functions/subindustries, they will want at least 2-3 in each with probably 10-15 total.
Did you need to network to get an interview invitation?
Sarika: Networking can only ever help; it can’t hurt. Networking may not be as critical for getting healthcare roles as in consulting and investment banking, but it’s a great way to learn about company culture and roles and for the firm to get to know you back. I leveraged the healthcare trek to the Bay Area to network with the companies in the region I was most interested in. While healthcare treks are not happening this year, students can still attend info sessions, Lunch & Learn events, and have 1-on-1 conversations with Booth alums or other contacts at healthcare firms.
Ellen: Yes. Networking is crucial for two reasons: 1) it allows you to display the genuine interest to a firm that I mentioned earlier and 2) it allows you to gather the information you need about a company’s culture, the expectations of the role, and the types of employees that currently work there. I think a lot of people view networking as a necessary evil, when in fact you should use it to ask people well-thought out questions so that you can make informed decisions for yourself!
Matt: Yes, consulting is generally very networking heavy and healthcare consulting is no different.
Any tips for making a strong and memorable impression?
Sarika: For me, being on top of healthcare trends was a real differentiator. Some of my most memorable interviews were intellectual conversations about what was happening in the healthcare industry today and ways that different companies can help resolve significant challenges related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Also, have a solid story for why you are interested in healthcare. Remember that patients and their well-being are the core of this industry. So, what does that mean to you?
Ellen: My first tip would be to do your research! Avoid asking questions that can be easily answered online. Show appreciation for people’s time by diving below surface-level questions and seeking to understand individual experiences. My second tip would be to pursue healthcare opportunities and involvement as soon as you get to Booth, through either coursework or some sort of extracurricular activity. It will give you a unique perspective on the industry, which is critical given how rapidly the healthcare space is shifting and evolving. It will also give you a point of reference to ask better questions during your interactions, which can showcase your critical thinking skills!
Matt: Most people that end up going into healthcare are doing it for a reason (usually a good reason). Make sure to spend some time thinking about that and figuring out the best way to communicate your passion for Healthcare.
How did you orient the academic experience at Booth? Were there classes you selected to help improve your skills/knowledge?
Sarika: When I first came to Booth, I wasn’t intending to concentrate in finance. In fact, I was actively avoiding it because I was intimidated by it and I had never done it before! However, after taking a few intro-level classes, I realized that this was a technical, quantitative skillset that would be valuable for me to gain as a future business leader. Also, the internship would be a good testing ground for me to try out this function for the first time. As a result, I decided to pursue a concentration in finance! I took classes such as Corporate Finance, Life Sciences Innovation and Finance, Commercializing Innovation, Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity, etc. to really build up my financial acumen. While I’m not sure how much I will apply these specific skills in my full-time job, it gave me the confidence that I have the right background to learn new finance concepts and tools on the job.
Ellen: I came to Booth to strengthen my financial skillset. Even though I pursued roles that were more focused in strategy and marketing, I wanted to use my coursework to explore finance and corporate investment decisions. I am still working through a lot of those classes (Corporate Finance, Cases in Financial Management, and Financial Statement Analysis), but I have also unexpectedly gained an entrepreneurship concentration! Taking classes like New Venture Strategy, New Venture Challenge, and Private Equity/Venture Capital Lab allowed me to explore the startup realm in a very experiential, hands-on way.
Matt: My undergrad degree was in engineering; so, one goal of my MBA was to build my foundational business skills. Given that goal, I’ve been trying to take as broad of a class load as I can (with some additional depth in the subjects I’ve found most interesting). I didn’t take many healthcare specific classes because I figured I would learn much more about healthcare on the job. I would say my healthcare exposure at Booth has been primarily through the Healthcare Group which brings incredible speakers in and also gives a lot of opportunities to network with classmates coming from healthcare backgrounds, those passionate about heading into healthcare, or both!
So, you managed to secure an interview. What can you expect?
Sarika: Typically, healthcare interviews are more behavioral than case-based or technical (although this depends a lot on the role and company you are recruiting for). In my experience, most healthcare firms asked some version of these questions:
- Do you know the industry- what works well vs what doesn’t?
- Why are you interested in healthcare (especially if you have not worked in it professionally before)?
- Do you understand how the firm you are interviewing with fits in to the overall healthcare ecosystem?
- What are your personal career goals and how can this role that you are interviewing for help you accomplish those goals?
Ellen: You can expect variation depending on the sector and function. For example, in my venture capital interviews, I needed to prepare an investment thesis, inclusive of a perspective on current trends and areas ripe for growth, evaluation criteria and knowledge of the competitive landscape, and examples of specific companies. I also made sure I was familiar with key metrics and frameworks for evaluating venture deals, such as indicators of product market fit, unit economics, and market sizing analysis. For more corporate healthcare roles, I focused on explaining why I was interested in that company specifically and developing succinct and tailored responses to behavioral questions. There may also be “case” questions related to how you would handle certain situations or how to evaluate success. It is helpful to engage functional frameworks for these types of questions, and really prove your understanding of the consumer journey within a particular sector of the healthcare space.
Matt: Healthcare consulting interviews are exactly like generalist management consulting interviews—a combination of case interviews and behavioral interviews. Some firms will give healthcare specific cases but many specifically do not because they prefer to hire someone who is the best at cracking cases over someone who has additional background in healthcare. These companies are full of healthcare experts that will teach you the ways of healthcare specific cases!
What’s the best way to prepare for the interview?
Sarika: Booth’s Healthcare Group (HCG) has provided a significant amount of support for healthcare recruiting through its recruiting guide, recruiting families, plethora of events and opportunities to engage with leading healthcare companies, and second year accessibility. If you are very interested in healthcare, you should join the club and take advantage of all of its resources! In addition, know healthcare trends and news, and the company’s key products/services, etc. Furthermore, understand how COVID-19 impacted your company and ways to mitigate COVID-19 impact risk, understanding the relationship between the different players of the healthcare ecosystem (payer, provider, biopharma, policy, etc), especially since this is a very unique but important part of the industry.
Ellen: I probably sound like a broken record at this point but do your research! The more you understand about a company’s culture and expectations for a specific role, the more you can examine your own past experiences and pick out what will be most relevant—even if you don’t have any prior work experience in the healthcare space! There are always transferable skills and demonstrating that you can identify those areas will serve you well. I would also recommend doing mock interviews, both formally through Career Services and informally with friends and peers. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will be going into your interviews so that you can put your best foot forward and really shine!
Matt: I prepared for interviews with my classmates preparing for generalist consultant roles. I joined an interview family through Management Consulting Group (a group of ~4 first year students led by a second-year student) and I also joined an interview family through Healthcare Group that specialized in consulting interview prep.
I hope Sarika, Ellen, and Matt’s perspective is helpful to all of you thinking of recruiting for internships in the healthcare industry. If healthcare isn’t your path–you can tune in to other parts of this series.