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Did not get MBB Return Offer: Is Moving "downwards" to lower tier firms perceived negatively?

I just completed an MBB internship and did not get a return offer. I was told I needed to work on solving problems in a more structured way, presenting solutions more efficiently and practically, and communicating more succinctly. However, I was praised for positive and hardworking work aptitude.

  1. Does not getting the return offer reflect badly on me? If I apply for other consulting firms, how do I approach this topic in an interview?
  2. I'm currently interested in North America offices. Should I restrict myself only to reapplying for MBB firms for full time or also other Tier 2 and boutique firms?
  3. Is it seen negatively if I move "downwards" from MBB to lower tier firms? Not just by people in the consulting industry, but also if I want to move out of consulting in the future
  4. I've previously turned down Big 4 offer for this internship; am I blacklisted for full time?

Thank you in advance!

I just completed an MBB internship and did not get a return offer. I was told I needed to work on solving problems in a more structured way, presenting solutions more efficiently and practically, and communicating more succinctly. However, I was praised for positive and hardworking work aptitude.

  1. Does not getting the return offer reflect badly on me? If I apply for other consulting firms, how do I approach this topic in an interview?
  2. I'm currently interested in North America offices. Should I restrict myself only to reapplying for MBB firms for full time or also other Tier 2 and boutique firms?
  3. Is it seen negatively if I move "downwards" from MBB to lower tier firms? Not just by people in the consulting industry, but also if I want to move out of consulting in the future
  4. I've previously turned down Big 4 offer for this internship; am I blacklisted for full time?

Thank you in advance!

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Hi Anonymous,

please find the answers to your questions below:

  1. You will likely get this question in the interview. I would keep a humble attitude here – you can definitely explain there was no match in the culture, but also that you had to improve in some areas. Then explain how you worked and improved in the last months in those areas. If you interview with second-tier companies, they will assume you did not get a return offer since you are interviewing with them now so better to be transparent on this and show you learned from that experience.
  2. I would still apply for all the major consulting companies interesting for you
  3. If you move to a second-tier, people will assume you did not receive an offer from the MBB you intern with from your CV. However in the long term this won’t really impact your career growth
  4. Probably no, but I would follow what explained in 1 if asked what happened in the interview, mentioning the points of improvement and how you are working on them.

Best,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

please find the answers to your questions below:

  1. You will likely get this question in the interview. I would keep a humble attitude here – you can definitely explain there was no match in the culture, but also that you had to improve in some areas. Then explain how you worked and improved in the last months in those areas. If you interview with second-tier companies, they will assume you did not get a return offer since you are interviewing with them now so better to be transparent on this and show you learned from that experience.
  2. I would still apply for all the major consulting companies interesting for you
  3. If you move to a second-tier, people will assume you did not receive an offer from the MBB you intern with from your CV. However in the long term this won’t really impact your career growth
  4. Probably no, but I would follow what explained in 1 if asked what happened in the interview, mentioning the points of improvement and how you are working on them.

Best,

Francesco

1. Other firms will not know whether you get a return offer or not for this internship (or at least they are not supposed to know...) You can just explain why you will choose the firm you are interviewing for over the others if you are granted an offer.

2. You should apply for other firms to maximize your chance to get into strategy consulting.

3. Not really, some non-MBB consulting firms have good reputation and resources in particular sectors (e.g. OW - financial services, Accenture - IT) Of course, the MBB experience opens the door to better exit opportunities, like getting into a reputable MBA or even a position in senior management if you decide to move into a large corporation.

4. Most probably no, given you turned down the offer politely with explanation. Anyways, it's no harm reapplying if you are still interested in the job.

Hope it helps!

1. Other firms will not know whether you get a return offer or not for this internship (or at least they are not supposed to know...) You can just explain why you will choose the firm you are interviewing for over the others if you are granted an offer.

2. You should apply for other firms to maximize your chance to get into strategy consulting.

3. Not really, some non-MBB consulting firms have good reputation and resources in particular sectors (e.g. OW - financial services, Accenture - IT) Of course, the MBB experience opens the door to better exit opportunities, like getting into a reputable MBA or even a position in senior management if you decide to move into a large corporation.

4. Most probably no, given you turned down the offer politely with explanation. Anyways, it's no harm reapplying if you are still interested in the job.

Hope it helps!

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To add to Lin's answer

1. I think this would require some explanation - there is an expectation that most people get return offers from internships. I would focus on why the firm was not a good cultural fit (which I assume is the reason you were not coached well enough to get the offer). Alternatively provide a reason why you did not see yourself there

2. Go as wide as possible. Also what is the end goal? If it is to go into an MBA you'll be fine in most places. If it is the industry focus on firms that have a good reputation in the industry you are keen on exiting into

3. Not if you can explain it well. People have a tendency to judge but most will understand if you have a good answer

4. As Lin said - reach back out, say you did not see yourself as a good fit in the firm you interned at and were wondering if you could be reconsidered

To add to Lin's answer

1. I think this would require some explanation - there is an expectation that most people get return offers from internships. I would focus on why the firm was not a good cultural fit (which I assume is the reason you were not coached well enough to get the offer). Alternatively provide a reason why you did not see yourself there

2. Go as wide as possible. Also what is the end goal? If it is to go into an MBA you'll be fine in most places. If it is the industry focus on firms that have a good reputation in the industry you are keen on exiting into

3. Not if you can explain it well. People have a tendency to judge but most will understand if you have a good answer

4. As Lin said - reach back out, say you did not see yourself as a good fit in the firm you interned at and were wondering if you could be reconsidered

(edited)

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Hi,

  1. Non-MBB firms will not care. For MBB firms it's a red flag. However, I know the cases when the candidates applied back and got the offer later from the same company
  2. That's up to you and your risk appetite. Chances of getting an MBB offer are pretty low so I would diversify the risks
  3. Nope, nobody cares especially outside consulting. But you should always be ready to explain

Best!

Hi,

  1. Non-MBB firms will not care. For MBB firms it's a red flag. However, I know the cases when the candidates applied back and got the offer later from the same company
  2. That's up to you and your risk appetite. Chances of getting an MBB offer are pretty low so I would diversify the risks
  3. Nope, nobody cares especially outside consulting. But you should always be ready to explain

Best!

If it is a red flag for MBB firms, would you recommend leaving it out of the resume for the MBB firms that I didn't intern with? I'll be reapplying to the same company (obviously they already have my information) but also the other two. — Anonymous A on Aug 28, 2019

Thank you so much! — Anonymous A on Aug 28, 2019

If you're in b-school or undergrad, can you just leave it out of your CV?

Oh and if someone asks you about that, it is a what people call a "pressure question"

I would just leave it out

If you're in b-school or undergrad, can you just leave it out of your CV?

Oh and if someone asks you about that, it is a what people call a "pressure question"

I would just leave it out

I think leaving it out of my CV raises the question of why I did nothing this summer... — Anonymous A on Aug 28, 2019

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