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Expert Career Advice (Tough Question)

Application rejection
Recent activity on Feb 04, 2018
5 Answers
3.0 k Views
John asked on Feb 02, 2018
Looking for regular practice partner


I am planning for the year ahead and I applied to the big firms in the UAE since the market in my home country Lebanon is awful and the UAE are an easy to access market. I might consider longer moves later.

In case of no success, what would be my best options in descending order form an expert point of view ? (Feel free to add one if there's something I didn't consider)

A- Apply to similar Business Analyst or Marketing positions in brand companies in the same country and work for a year or two before increasing my market value with a masters

B- Apply to a masters degree (any recommendations of interesting and valuable fields ?) in Europe, then try again after graduating (or change fields completely)

C- Apply to any job even if not matching my preferences to start somewhere (which for now I refused to do but heard a lot)

D- Apply to a masters in Lebanon even though there are not a lot of valuable/interesting fields and the universities - which are very expensive - have limited international value

My education: Management degree

My experience: Public consulting, startup accelerator, university clubs, youth political movement, national election campaign

My skills: Qualitative analysis (social behavior, general processes), leadership (student groups, personality, character), Communication (verbal, non-verbal, marketing psychology), quantitative (thanks to preparing for interviews), fluent in Arabic, French, English) and intermediate in Spanish.

Limits: Weak degree, little official professional experience, might be missing other weaknesses, need to stay in contact with my family for the time being (travel back occasionally)

My interests: Business strategy, marketing, new technologies, social and/or personal impact, politics, personal and socio-economical development, discovering and learning, can't stand not doing anything/wasting time

I post this question because I am always open to feedback and notice that there are experts with valuable perspectives. Thanks !


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updated an answer on Feb 03, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

in case you do not manage to get an offer now, that’s what I would consider in order of priority:

  1. Target other valuable consulting companies in UAE. Not all the second and third tier consulting companies would be ideal for a future invitation from MBB. You can find evidence of the value of a company on LinkedIn, checking current MBB employees in your target areas with previous consulting experience elsewhere, and verifying which are these companies.
  2. Find a job in the industry attractive for consulting. In general, big brands are a good way to attract interest from a consulting company and be invited for an interview. Which big brands matter, however, depends on the geographic area you are applying (eg finance London and New York, biotech in San Francisco, etc). My suggestion is to (i) look on LinkedIn which are the companies where current MBB employees worked for before in your target areas; (ii) network to get in touch with people in such companies, rather than follow the online application, in order to get a job there.
  3. Master degree (ideally 1 year) in Europe (option B). As for the industry job, you should select the master according to the prevalent educational background of current consultant in your favourite office.

As for the other option you listed:

  • Option A doesn’t make much sense – you may reappply in 1-2 years without a Master
  • Option C also doesn’t make much sense. You should not apply for any job, only to those useful to land in consulting (see steps 1 and 2 above)
  • Option D doesn’t make much sense either, as an international Master would probably increase your attractiveness (unless you find a significant number of MBB consultant with a current master from Lebanon – which doesn’t seem likely from what you said).




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updated an answer on Feb 03, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Here is the deal: your ban in the company may be 1 or 2 years depending on the company and your performance.

No go options:

1) Apply to a masters in Lebanon even though there are not a lot of valuable/interesting fields and the universities - which are very expensive - have limited international value - Since there are no MBB offices in your country, I guess there is no dedicated consulting recruiting process in that university. You'll simply spend 2 years with no reward

2) work for a year or two before increasing my market value with a masters - the earlier you get at BIG3 the better (You are younger, have more energy and can recover fast after long hours). If you can minimize the number of steps, you should do so

Go options

  • Take a job in 2nd / 3rd tier consulting companies either in your home country or ideally in UAE for a year (or two, depending on the length of your ban) and then reapply
  • Take a job in a well-known FMCG company, ideally in graduate rotational programs (2-year programs with rotations across different departments. Unilever, BAT and many others have them) or a junior Brand manager in P&G
  • Take a job in some industry that is specifically valuable in your region to get the expertise that will be a unique selling point in your resume
  • Apply to a masters degree in Europe. If it is a 2-year program, you can apply for a summer internship. If it is a 1-year program you can apply directly in spring.

These four options you can try in parallel and see what works best.

Good luck!


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John on Feb 03, 2018

Thanks for the detailed answer ! What would you say is the "sweet" age range for entry-level consulting ? And what is the recommended path (go high up the ladder or switch industry) ?

replied on Feb 04, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

Best age to enter MBB depends on your objective. If you just want to get a 2-5 year experience (2 promotions from levels at which you start) and maximize your learning then I agree with the "the sooner the better". This translates into:


for business analyst/associate. Basically first job right after your degree. Younger in US because you need just 4 years, older in some European countries because they want bachelor+master even for starting position

-24-27 for consultant post MBA.

Now, if instead you want to go for partnership, think that usually in McK it takes 6-8 years to become partner and in BCG 7-9 after your associate/consultant promotion. Having looked (for other reasons) at partners's ages at promotion across MBB you can see that you find 10-20% of people who made partner at 30-32. However the bulk made partner after 35. This is because of several factors: time needed to mature an executive presence, time to develop a deep vertical/functional expertise (for which a foundation might or might not be built outside of consulting), age bias. So would say that if you think about becoming a partner you might consider to wait a while or to get some external experience (or to start in MBB, leave in good terms and get experience in industry, and come back a few years later...a rare path but which I have seen happening more and more) so that you can start as a associate/consultant around 28-30.

hope it helps,


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John on Feb 04, 2018

Thank you for your answers Andrea.

replied on Feb 03, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

Leadership development programs are pre-determined duration programs (e.g. 2,3,5 years) that are offered usually only to freshly graduated students and include rotation across functions (e.g. Sales, ops, finance) and sometimes across the globe. Sometimes this program can be function specific (e.g. Operational excellence leadership program or finance leadership program)

these programs are offereded selarately and in addition to regular full time position by companies. Their selection process though is way more selective.

the advantage is that you have access to senior leadership (VP level) and you are given great developmental opportunities.

a lot of fortune 200 companies offer these: P&G as mentioned, Ford, Apple, Etc

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replied on Feb 02, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

If your ultimate goal is to make it into first tier consulting no matter what, then my rank ordered preference would be:

1) second tier consulting

2) other prestigious job that you like in industry (think a leadership development program or a global development program)

3) other prestigious job that you don't like in industry (same parenthesis as above)

4) prestigious master abroad

5) regular job in a well respected/prestigious company

6) meaningful volunteering experience in recognize organization

7) continuation of studies in good but not prestigious university

if you instead want to get a job in a top tier consulting firm but that's not the ultimate goal in life, then skip item #3 ... life is too short to not enjoy!

hope it helps!

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John on Feb 02, 2018

"life is too short to not enjoy" True ! I don't have any ultimate goal, I just want to challenge myself and improve as much as I can.


John on Feb 02, 2018

Can you develop what you mean by the development programs ?

Francesco gave the best answer


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#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching
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