I had a student who decided she wanted to do consulting, but she had no business background. Her first attempt at a mock case interview with me was a disaster. That day she started a journal. For every live case she did with me, her classmates, and alumni (she did around 30 live cases), and with every case that she read (about 80 cases), she wrote down the problem, the solution, and most important, what she hadn’t thought of.
The student constantly reviewed her journal, so that what she didn’t think of naturally soon became second nature to her. She also recorded structures, concepts, ideas, and strategies. When she had spare moments between classes or bus rides, she would flip through her journal. When she read articles in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, or McKinsey Quarterly, she would add to her journal. It never left her side.
She ended up at a top firm and took the journal with her. With every engagement she learned something new and added it to her journal. When she and her co-workers sat around brainstorming problems, she would flip through her journal and throw out ideas, which often sparked discussions and occasionally led to a solution.
I saw her five years after she had graduated and she still had her journal with her. Although it was as beaten up as Indiana Jones’s journal, it held just as many treasures. She was headed to a new job and the journal was the first thing she packed.
Since then, whenever I speak at schools, I recommend creating a journal. Besides keeping all your notes in one place, it becomes a single source for case material that is also extremely helpful for your classes. If you are truly serious about case interviewing, then you will continue to read and practice all summer long. Recruiting events start as soon as you get back to campus, so if you take the time over the summer to practice, life is going to be easier in the fall.
Read more about preparing for case interviews in