Cracking the Code: A Guide to Landing a Job at Bain & Company

Who hasn’t dreamt of working for one of the top consulting firms in the world? Is the way to the top as hard as it seems or is there a key to securing a job in the company? Well, we will find out soon, because in this week’s article we will interview Dyami van Kooten Pássaro,  a Research & Data Services working student in Bain & Company . We will find out more about his background and what led him to Bain & Company.


Orestis: Could you please provide a brief introduction of yourself?

Dyami: I'm Dyami van Kooten Pássaro, and I recently celebrated my 22nd birthday. At Delft University of Technology, I pursued a degree in Technology, Policy, and Management. Currently, I'm undertaking a second degree in Philosophy, which I began as part of the Honors program at Delft. Alongside my studies, I'm working as a working student at the Research & Data Services Department at Bain & Company's Amsterdam office.

Orestis: How did you find out about Bain & Company? Was it a normal job application or did you get in contact with them in another way? 

Dyami: So, that is a funny story because while I was studying in Delft as a first year, one of our professors mentioned McKinsey. And he just mentioned it in this sort of way of like, oh, if you guys are really good, I might even know some people at McKinsey that might want you. And I'd never heard of McKinsey before or Bain or BCG. So I just started googling a bit and then you quickly get to the MBB. Then, you quickly read about the prestige and that it's a great place to work. From there, I was already interested in working at an MBB firm in my first year, although I didn't have the grades for it. But, that was already sort of a goal that I was setting and so during my second and third year at Delft, I was doing the Honors program, which is like an extracurricular program on top of the main program that you can do if you qualify for it. That kept me busy, which meant that as soon as I was done there after the three years I had spent there, I knew that, on top of the philosophy degree that I would be doing, I had some free time because I was used to doing more than just the normal curriculum. 

So, I started looking for, well, any opportunities. And then I found the young consultancy group here, De Kleine Consultant. And so I was considering applying there when a friend of mine introduced me to this technology conference, which is held in Amsterdam every year, it's called the TNW Conference. At the TNW conference, you could apply to their special T500 program, which meant they would look at your CV and if you got in, well, then you would get free tickets to the event as a young promising student. I forgot to mention this before, but obviously, I had been already looking at the MBB but they only offered full-time internships or jobs, no part-time jobs-at least in the Netherlands. So anyway, I applied to the technology conference which I got in, and then in the WhatsApp group for the Technology conference, there was someone from Bain who basically said that they are trying this new thing where for the first time they are trying to hire part-time students. So, that’s how I eventually ended up applying and getting it. Thus, the job was never advertised and was never public, I was just lucky enough to run into him. Now, there are currently only two working students at Bain in Amsterdam, me and someone else, as it’s still a work in progress. 

Orestis: In retrospect, was there a defining factor that significantly contributed to your successful candidacy for this position? What attributes or unique qualities do you believe set you apart from the pool of numerous applicants and enabled you to stand out during the selection process?

Dyami: Looking back, there were indeed several aspects that I believe played a role in securing this position. Firstly, my involvement in the Honors program at Delft and the concurrent research project under Professor Ibo van de Poel regarding societal value change due to COVID showcased my research experience. As this role emphasised research, this background likely worked in my favour during the selection process. Additionally, the fact that I had good academic grades at Delft also provided a strong foundation for consideration, leading to an interview opportunity. During the interview itself, I acknowledged both my achievements and shortcomings, recognizing that I was still in the early stages of my career. This willingness to learn and grow, rather than presenting myself as already proficient in everything, appeared to resonate positively with the interviewer.

Orestis: Considering your experiences with Bain, what advice would you offer to individuals contemplating applying to consulting firms like Bain in the future?

Dyami: Firstly, It's important to understand that I'm not in a consulting position but instead in a business functions position. We essentially do the research for consultants.

So, I’m not in a position to give advice as to how to get into consulting per se but I do have some general feedback I’ve gathered from both my experience and from other consultants.

 Now, if someone is considering applying to consulting firms like Bain, McKinsey, or BCG, I would strongly recommend focusing on building a network within the company before submitting an application as it can provide insights into the company's culture and values. During the interview preparation phase, it's essential to strike a balance between being prepared and not appearing overly scripted or robotic. I’ve heard from other consultants for instance that even though completing a reasonable number of case studies and frameworks can be beneficial, overanalyzing or attempting hundreds of cases might work against the candidate. The key is to remain open and authentic during the interview, demonstrating genuine interest in the company, its values, and what sets it apart from its competitors. Lastly, familiarising yourself with the company's values and understanding how, in my case, Bain fosters a collaborative and team-oriented culture can prove advantageous.

Orestis: Now, let's delve into your role at Bain. Can you describe the responsibilities and day-to-day tasks involved in your position at the Research and Data Services department?

Dyami: Certainly! As a working student in the Research and Data Services department, my primary responsibility involves supporting the consultants. For instance, when they require data points and insight for their project, it's my role to gather and provide them with relevant information. This can range from quantitative data, such as market sizes or industry-specific metrics, to more qualitative analysis of implications related to global events or policy changes.

A typical day involves receiving requests from consultants, managers, or even partners, seeking data-driven insights or analysis. It requires a combination of research skills and critical thinking to distil complex information into useful and actionable recommendations for the consultants.

Orestis: What do you find most interesting or rewarding about your job?

Dyami: The most rewarding part of my job is when I get requests that require out-of-the-box thinking to find solutions. For instance, researching and understanding the geopolitical implications of a trade war or uncovering how companies use customer data creatively challenge me. These tasks demand a combination of analytical skills and creativity, which I find highly stimulating.

Moreover, being part of a company like Bain, where the culture encourages collaboration and mutual support, has been incredibly beneficial. The open environment allows me to learn from experienced professionals and access their network, which is particularly advantageous as I'm in the early stages of my career. The willingness of colleagues to provide guidance and support has been invaluable in my personal and professional growth.

Orestis: It's wonderful to hear how the culture at Bain contributes to a positive work environment and fosters growth. Finally, how has being a part of Bain helped you develop individually and professionally?

Dyami: Being at Bain has had a profound impact on both my personal and professional development. The exposure to a network of highly talented and intelligent colleagues has challenged me to continually strive for excellence. The open culture and the emphasis on teamwork have allowed me to develop strong collaborative skills, recognizing the value of collective effort in achieving success.

Professionally, the research-oriented nature of my role has honed my analytical and problem-solving skills. The diverse range of topics I've worked on has expanded my knowledge and understanding of various industries and global events. Additionally, having access to resources and support from my managers and colleagues has enabled me to explore potential career paths, including considering further education opportunities like a master's or a PhD.

Furthermore, being a first-generation college student, the Bain network has been instrumental in providing me with guidance and connections that I wouldn't have access to otherwise. This support has been instrumental in my growth both within the company and beyond.

Gabriela: But I know that you are doubling your Bachelor in Management Engineering with a  Bachelor in Philosophy while working on the side which is very impressive . To some it may seem counterintuitive though. How did you choose Philosophy, what were the reasons behind it?

Dyami: Some might find this combination nonsensical,  but there are valid reasons behind my decision. The initial spark for my interest in philosophy ignited during my high school years, thanks to an exceptional teacher who assigned us an essay on Kant. Surprisingly, my essay garnered high praise, prompting my teacher to share an opportunity to follow an Oxford course and provide feedback on my work while he took the course himself. The experience was captivating, and my teacher even remarked that I could have passed the course at the age of 16.      

  Now, fast-forwarding to the present, having philosophy as a second degree alongside my quantitative studies brings numerous benefits. Firstly, it showcases my ability to navigate both fields , making me more marketable and employable with relatively little additional effort. This is the case as the degree in Philosophy I currently follow consists of just 90 EC, allowing me ample time to sharpen my business skills as an employee at Bain. Beyond the pragmatic advantages, studying philosophy opens the mind and expands one's perspective. The value of this degree lies in its ability to delve beyond mere quantitative analysis, enabling me to explore the underlying motivations and purpose behind our actions. As I strive to give my life direction, philosophy helps me comprehend where I fit into the grand scheme of things, offering insights into the deeper meaning of our endeavours.

Gabriela: Now,let’s talk a bit about your hobbies. Besides studying and your job, do you find any time for other activities?

Dyami: I make an effort to stay committed to my hobbies, but it's no secret that TikTok and Instagram reels can sneak into my day. We all have our little weaknesses, right? Yet, I focus my energy on two main passions: playing the guitar and keeping up with my gym routine.

    I strive to incorporate exercise into my routine by going for runs or hitting the gym approximately five to six times a week. Additionally, I am deeply committed to improving my guitar skills, spending at least an hour to an hour and a half each day practising.Even though it takes a bit of my free time, it is a conscious decision I made because the type of music I play requires dedicated and consistent practice. I have found that if I skip a day, I tend to fall behind and lose the progress I've made.

   Certainly, engaging in these hobbies has led me to spend less time socialising or hanging out with friends. It's a trade-off I willingly accepted in order to prioritise my personal interests and goals. At the end of the day, I find fulfilment in what I have achieved and the satisfaction that comes from pursuing my passions alongside my academic and professional endeavours.

Gabriela: I think that, as children, each of us actually dreamt about what they would do in the future .For example, when I was 5 years old I would always tell my brother that I would be the president .It is quite fun looking back now. However, what were you dreaming of becoming when you were younger?

Dyami: Astronomy held a special fascination for me back then, although it has been years since I delved into the subject. Therefore, if you were to ask me anything related to astronomy now, I would be at a loss and would probably come across as rather foolish.

   As a child, astronomy was a significant interest of mine, though I can't say I had any specific career aspirations or goals at that time. I simply enjoyed exploring the wonders of the cosmos. Perhaps, like many young children, I briefly entertained dreams of becoming a rock star or pursuing other creative endeavours. However, as I grew older, my interests shifted and evolved, ultimately leading me down the path of business and the captivating world of software as a service.

Gabriela: I believe that any of our readers would consider working at Bain to be a hallmark of success. Moving on to my final question, do you view yourself as successful or do you still have aspirations to achieve before deeming yourself as such?

Dyami: When it comes to defining success, it's a complex and subjective matter. If we consider success solely from a professional standpoint, I find it difficult to measure. As I age and progress in my career, my perception of success evolves. For instance, when I was admitted to the Honours Program two years ago, it felt like a significant achievement. Similarly, now, working part-time at MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) while continuing my studies, I can't currently think of a way to improve my situation. In that sense, I feel content and relatively successful. However, I'm well aware that there is much more I can and should strive for in the future. I am actively working towards my next steps, and Bain has been instrumental in supporting my journey.

  On the other hand, if we broaden the definition of success to encompass more than just professional accomplishments, my answer would be different. In that context, I don't consider myself successful yet. I have realised that I've become excessively focused on pursuing professional success, often neglecting other aspects of my life. For instance, during a semester abroad, I was preoccupied with exam preparations and didn't fully enjoy the experience. Furthermore, I still have room for improvement in my personal life, such as developing my cooking skills. While it may sound trivial, I sometimes feel insecure about these aspects. It's as if I have become a one-trick pony, pouring all my energy into achieving career milestones. There are areas in my personal life that I need to address and enhance, but I set them aside in my pursuit of reaching the next significant milestone, be it gaining entry into the Honours Program, securing a position at a prestigious company like Bain, or striving for admission to a reputable master's program. It seems that career advancement consistently takes precedence in my focus and priorities.

 In summary, defining success is multifaceted, and while I feel a sense of professional accomplishment, there are aspects of my personal life that I recognize require attention and growth. I am dedicated to working on both fronts, continually seeking opportunities for improvement and development.

Gabriela: Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us. It's evident that being part of Bain has offered you valuable opportunities for personal and professional growth. We wish you continued success in your career at Bain and beyond.

Dyami: Thank you. It was my pleasure to share my journey with you. I hope it provides valuable insights for others aspiring to join consulting firms like Bain.

     Dyami's journey to Bain & Company offers practical insights for aspiring candidates.Through networking, research experience, and self-awareness, he cracked the code to the role as a Research & Data Services working student at Bain.  Balancing his professional and personal interests, Dyami finds fulfilment in providing data-driven insights to consultants. His story demonstrates that with dedication and a strong work ethic, aspiring candidates can take meaningful steps towards achieving their goals at reputable consulting firms like Bain & Company.

About this article

Written by:
  • Gabriela Creţu
  • Orestis Tziapouras
| Published on: Sep 06, 2023