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Breaking into consulting with 2.8 GPA from no 1 engineering school in the country.

GMAT GPA GRE indonesia Jakarta MBB target university
Edited on Mar 31, 2024
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 30, 2024

Hello everyone,

I'm from Indonesia! I'm eagerly awaiting my graduation this year from the no 1 engineering school in my country majoring in mechanical engineering, where mechanical engineering has consistently ranked number one for years in the country. Our school has been a prime target for many prestigious consulting firms, including MBB, who visit our campus annually.

Despite attending a prestigious institution, my final GPA is only 2.88, attributed to various factors. Additionally, many of my peers also have GPAs below 3.0, as our university is renowned for its rigorous curriculum and stringent grading system. The grading scale is narrow, with only A, AB, B, BC, C, and D grades available; there are no variations like A-minus.

However, despite my GPA, I've been very active in university organizations and international activities. I served as the president of a university student chapter, where I implemented significant changes that positively impacted and promoted diversity, contrary to the norm. Additionally, I worked as a mechanic for my university's robotic team, which secured international qualification for the largest international robotics competition—an achievement requiring rigorous selection. I was also a hackathon mentor for an American hackathon during my first year of university. I also participated in Harvard Project Asian Relations 2021 in Taiwan.

Despite majoring in mechanical engineering, I have been passionate about business-related topics such as startups, product management, or data analysis/data science where I was fortunate to learn and prove my interest with practical experiences. I secured an internship at Wonsulting as an analytical manager during my first year of study, launching multiple businesses in sectors ranging from FnB to education with my friends. I've interned as a product manager twice, with my first internship during my second year resulting in recognition as the best product manager within the company. My most recent internship was with the first Aqua-Tech startup in Asia, the largest one in Indonesia, which has achieved unicorn status and received Series D funding.

Moreover, I have extensive research experience. I worked as a biomechanics researcher in my university's laboratory, where I conducted research on AI algorithms, requiring me to quickly grasp complex concepts such as various programming languages, computer vision, image inpainting algorithms, Docker, statistical analysis, and human anatomy all from scratch and in the span of months. I had to built a few AI algorithms from scratch and conducted analysis where my analysis findings leads to suggestions that combat limited resource problem within my university laboratory. I was also a researcher at Indonesian military airforce research department where I had to computational fluid dynamic analysis on one of their UAV drone model.

I’m writing these not to show off but to help you understand my background well. Do you think consulting is still possible for me? What should I do to break into top consulting firms or if possible MBB. Should I take GMAT/GRE to compensate my bad GPA? I randomly took GMAT online full test simulation for free and got a 650 score without preparation so I kinda have confidence to score way better in the real test with enough preparation. Or maybe I should take master’s in management from top B school? I have been particularly interested in INSEAD program.

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 30, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Thanks for sharing the full context. This is helpful.

First of all, GPA on its own means nothing. Recruiters know this. This is why it's better to not only mention your GPA but also (estimate) your position within the cohort. 

As is with your case, sometimes a low GPA could be due to the complexity of the course or university, and it doesn't reflect on the individual - so it's not comparable across individuals. 

My strong advice would be to apply directly. Here is a guide on what you need to put together for the application to be able to pass screening:

To increase your chances of passing screening, try and get referrals. These two resources will explain how to go about getting a referral even without a pre-existing network:

Lastly, if you are interested in a MiM program, you can apply for one in parallel with the consulting applications. With your profile, I expect at least one of them to work out. In the worst-case scenario, if the consulting applications do not work out, you will have learned a lot in the process and can further sharpen all of this in the MiM program. 

Here you can find a framework for deciding whether you actually need an MiM or MBA program:

Best of luck and do reach out if you need help.

Cristian

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Anonymous A on Mar 30, 2024

I have heard from a friend of mine and some rumors that most consulting firms ban applicants for getting rejected. Does this apply in the screening process as well or after the screening process?

Cristian on Mar 30, 2024

Most firms have a 1 year freeze for reapplications but no complete ban. As in, even if you were rejected, you can reapply after a year.

Anonymous A on Mar 31, 2024

should I apply before or after my gmat/gre score out? does it add value or compensate my low gpa on the screening process? if so, which one do they value more GRE or GMAT?

Hsu Eain
Expert
replied on Mar 30, 2024
MBA candidate at INSEAD | 4 years+ experience in McKinsey & Company | Case buddy for candidates in McKinsey

Hi 

First of all, I want to highlight that GPA doesn't matter and you should still aim for applying MBB. 

Coming from McKinsey, there is a program targeted at fresh graduates from top universities in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam called CFP (Consulting Fellowship Program). It is equivalent to a Junior Business Analyst role, where you will spend ~1 year before you become a Business Analyst. 

They usually kick off the program mid-year April onwards and usually post on LinkedIn or their social media pages. Please do keep an eye out on the program.

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Anonymous A on Mar 30, 2024

is it true that they ban applicants who dont pass CV screening process? if so, I think it is wiser to fix my GPA problem completly before applying.

Hsu Eain on Mar 30, 2024

Just to ensure I can provide you confirmed answer, let me check with a few of my colleagues. Meanwhile, could you please drop me a dm so that I can reply back to you later? Thanks!

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 31, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) Do you think consulting is still possible for me? What should I do to break into top consulting firms or if possible MBB. 

It seems you have a solid background and the main issue is the GPA. I would recommend two main things to compensate for a low GPA:

  1. Ensure the rest of the CV is solid (format and description of the experiences)
  2. Get a referral

You can find more on referrals below:

▶ How to Get an MBB Invitation

2) Should I take GMAT/GRE to compensate my bad GPA?

I would not recommend taking the GMAT just to compensate for the GPA, but it could be useful if you are planning to do an MBA later on in case you have time now.

3) Or maybe I should take master’s in management from top B school?

If you are not accepted now, I would rather work for a few years and apply again - I don't see much utility in the MIM if the goal is just to compensate for the GPA. If you are not successful again, you can join an MBA program and apply again after that for a post-MBA position.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Anonymous A on Mar 31, 2024

Hello, thank you for the answer. I have other questions now. 1. does referral only works for mbb or any consulting firms? 2. if the only way to solve my problem is to take master, do you think a master in engineering will work? because business school is indeed more expensive but still even after taking master in engineering i would still go for MBA later in my life because it is somewhat my dream too.

Francesco on Apr 01, 2024

Hi there, 1. A referral helps with every firm. 2. As mentioned above, if the goal is simply to get into consulting I would rather work for a few years and apply again and if needed do an MBA later on, rather than doing an extra Master in Engineering now. However, if you want to pursue a master's for your personal interest, a Master in Engineering from a target school should not create any impediment for a consulting application later on. Hope this helps

Anonymous B replied on Mar 30, 2024

Hi! I know that majority will say that GPA will not matter but it will 100% for sure. 
I think if you are 100% sure for consultancy, you can get into smaller consultancy firm and then MBB. But, I think MBA will be a big yes, but please maintain your CGPA during MBA

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Anonymous A on Mar 31, 2024

could you suggest me a list of smaller consulting firms where my gpa would work out?

Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 31, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

your GPA is one of the relevant parameters that is being looked at. Different countries and different universities have different grading systems and can’t just be compared based on mere face value. The recruiters know that and will therefore look at a candidate’s performance relative to a comparable cohort. So if 2.8 in your case means you are still within the top percentage of your class, then all is well. However, you need a well rounded profile with relevant practical/internship experiences, extracurriculars, experience abroad, etc. to be interesting for consulting firms. So if you don’t have these other elements, then even a perfect GPA wouldn’t help you. It’s always the comprehensive picture that matters.

To increase your chances for making it to the interview round, you should definitely try to put in the networking effort to try to get an internal referral before you apply.

Best of luck

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 30, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

GPA matters in context. What really matters is that you come from a good school and are within the top cohort of your class. 

Therefore 2.8 can be good if you are in the Top 10%, for example, but terrible if it means you are at the 2nd quartile…

If you are from #1 Engineering school, are in the Top Quarter, and have a lot of extra-curricular activities to add up to your resume (with this last part being your case), then you have a good chance to be accepted to the interview stage.

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Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

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