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Chances at MBB after PhD + consulting experience

Big 4 consulting MBB phd tier2
Recent activity on Sep 24, 2018
5 Answers
4.1 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 23, 2018

Hi everyone,

So let me first briefly explain my situation. My background is in natural sciences and I managed to get an invitation to interview at one of the MBB firms, but of course the chances of actually getting the gig are realistically still rather slim. But besides the MBB interview I also have other interviews lined up:
- Management consultant at two tier2 firms
- Technology consultant at other big consulting firms
- Not (directly) consulting-related jobs which do require traveling and some analytical thinking/problem solving, they would be fun-to-do jobs but are in the long run less challenging.

Let me stress that my main goal is to (eventually) end up at an MBB firm, however I have also been playing with the idea of doing a phd. So I have been thinking of a long-term strategy for myself, and I would love to hear your opinion on whether or not this will produce a CV which will help me to get an interview in the future:

1) In case I get the MBB offer: Take offer and be happy forever.
2) Otherwise: Take another offer, which I hope to receive, and do this for some time.
3) After about one year (for the less challenging) or two years (the non-MBB consulting jobs), quit and do a phd for three years
4) Re-apply at MBB firms

Of course I can totally imagine myself being perfectly happy at a tier 2 firm, so the strategy could change.

Is this a feasable strategy? And will it matter if I did a technology consulting job, or a relatively unrelated sector?

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 24, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

if your end goal is to join MBB, I would not go for a PhD in point 3; rather, I would reapply for MBB at that stage (you may get 1 or 2 years black-list period, according to your performance, in case you get rejected). Although a PhD may help to gain some years of seniority, it won't allow to have the seniority/experience you can gain in three more years in MBB.

As an additional tip, I would invest in developing a strategy to obtain referrals right now for the other two MBB firms and ideally in case preparation. So far that you can find a way to "save" one or two years, that would of course be the best way to go and would be useful anyway for the backup option of the tier-two firms. Please feel free to send me a private message or to take look at my profile for some suggestions on a strategy for that.



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replied on Sep 24, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Completely feasible, and probably what I would suggest for you even if you hadn't proposed this solution.

1. Don't say no to MBB if you get an offer right now, since this is your ultimate goal

2. Some work experience + additional education will increase your value (professional, not to mention personal). You will likely get another shot after the PhD, especially if you come off a solid program and/or in-demand major (STEM, statistics/applied math, IT...)

3. Don't forget though, you can also reapply to MBB after a couple of years of work experience - either industry or Tier2/boutique consultancies. Doing a PhD has huge personal value, but probably wouldn't pay out in purely financial terms vs. working full time during the 3 years it would take you to complete the program

Meanwhile... I hope you are practicing case interviewing skills very hard. You have a shot right now, make the most of it. Good luck!

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Anonymous replied on Sep 24, 2018

I agree with Francesco here - your strategy of doing a PhD to reapply is certainly feasible, but it's not the strategy I would recommend.

You can certainly get into MBB with a PhD - however, planning to do a PhD just to have some more time to reapply for MBB is not a good investment of your time - you would join the firms as the equivalent of a "Junior Associate / Junior Consultant" , while you would easily already be an Associate / Consultant if you just joined directly after 1-2 years of another job.

Rather, after 1-2 years at your old firm, you can simply reapply to MBB - the firms are generally just as open to hiring experienced hires as they are PhDs. To answer your last question, the sector you work in matters a lot less than the type of role you had - you have to be able to demonstrate leadership & analytical skills and what impact you had on your job - whether this is in the oil & gas industry or tech. consulting matters less.

Of course, the story is slightly different if you actually want to do a PhD for other reasons - but consider carefully if it's a good investment of your time.

As a final comment - while it's smart to start planning for the eventuality you don't make it into MBB this year, you should really be focused on prepping to maximise your chances of getting the offer!

Best of luck,


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Anonymous updated the answer on Sep 24, 2018

All totally feasible except for 1) - very few people are happy forever, not even (or especially?) at MBB...

Just kidding, go for it! :-D


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replied on Sep 24, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework


It seems completely feasable to me.
Since you've developped consultant abilities, they will give it a try during interviews. Then it will be up to you to perform right.

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