Applying for a summer associate v/s associate directly- Soon to be PhD seeking career advice

Career Advising MBB PhDtoConsulting
Edited on Feb 29, 2024
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 28, 2024

Hi all, 

I'm looking for some career advice as my situation, like most PhD's is a bit unique. I'm not sure where I fit in the ladder. 

Background- PhD in Strategy and Finance from Lund University in Sweden- will graduate in September 2024. I also have an MSc in Finance from Cranfield University in the UK. 

Professional experience - Worked as an equity analyst for a boutique hedge fund in Switzerland for 2 years, during my PhD. Post my Bachelors, worked as a strategy analyst for 6 months for a large pharmaceutical company. 

Like most, the aim is to give MBB a fair, well prepared shot. 

While I'm familiar with the interview process and expectations (will also take some coaching over this spring/summer now), I'm not sure what positions I should apply to, to maximise my chances. Should I wait for 2025 summer associate positions? Or is it advisable to directly apply for an associate position (assuming I'm even eligible)? 

Any advice towards my situation would be appreciated. 

Best regards.

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Ian
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replied on Feb 28, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

I can tell you're quite structured and organized with how you're doing things - thinking about everything right. Nice work!

I'd put you squarely in the “consultant”/associate camp. 

The #1 thing is to apply to the programs your school's timeline tells you to. (For example, MBA 1st year fall should apply to summer internship, but MBA 2nd year fall should apply to full-time).

In general, you should be able to take a shot “now” and then again next year.

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Florian
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replied on Feb 28, 2024
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

I like your thorough planning and well-prepared approach.

Your profile is definitely well-suited for MBB!

Regarding your question: This largely depends on the firm, country, and office location as this is not the same across the board.

In any case, it is a good discussion starter for networking, which should anyway engage in via your network and LinkedIn. Reach out to relevant people and discuss your motivation with them.

You will a. get insights into the recruiting windows/demand and b. potentially a referral, which strengthens your application.

Reach out if you are interested in a deeper perspective. I have gone the opposite way from consulting to Ph.D. to entrepreneurship. Happy to share my insights.

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 29, 2024
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Hi there,

Q: I'm not sure what positions I should apply to, to maximise my chances

Depending on the country, you should be able to join as Associate or Junior Associate (McKinsey levels) after the PhD graduation. If you can find a referral (highly recommended) you could ask them what is the standard in that office. Alternatively, you could check the position other PhDs joined from LinkedIn.

You can find more on referrals below:

How to Get an MBB Invitation 

Good luck!

Francesco

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Cristian
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replied on Feb 29, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

You have a cool profile. 

But to give you the direct answer, what position you're eligible for and that you should apply for is something you'll need to clarify directly with the recruiter. 

From my experience, you should be applying directly for associate. 

And you should apply as early as you can, because just in case this doesn't work out, you already learn more from the experience than not doing it. So when you do give it a second go, you're significantly better prepared.

Last but not least, go broad in terms of the firms. MBB is the target, that's clear, but it's best to diversify and create leverage for yourself by having offers from the other firms as well. 

Best,
Cristian

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Benjamin
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updated an answer on Feb 29, 2024
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Typically if you are graduating in the current year, you will be asked to apply for a full time role and not an internship role.

Best to check with HR which one applies to you, but in my experience final year students were always asked to go for the associate role. 

All the best! 

(edited)

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Pedro
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updated an answer on Feb 29, 2024
30% off in April 2024 | Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

I think what makes sense is to apply to the 2024 September full time roles. To be honest, this is quite straightforward as the best option.

(edited)

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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