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General Advice for Consulting Pivot Strategy

Advice Career Advising career change graduate program Master MBA MBA Application Advice recruiting visa visa issues
New answer on Dec 01, 2023
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 26, 2023

Hi all, I am in a slightly complex situation, so if anyone could give me some suggestions that would be great!

I graduated in Chemical Engineering May 2022 from a top engineering school in the US, and have been working in engineering since. I am on my F-1 Visa OPT, and the chances of getting the H1B visa have been pretty low (lottery). I have work authorization to work in the US for 3 years total, so until mid-2025. A Master's degree would give me 3 more years of authorization upon graduation. 

I would like to pivot from engineering to management consulting. How should I do that?

I am currently applying for MBAs (750 GMAT, 3.81 GPA, 2 years work experience by start of classes) to give me these 3 more years of authorization and pivot to consulting. However, I am not sure if I will get into the top programs with my short work experience. Furthermore, I am unsure of whether I will even be able to secure a consulting job after the MBA because of this same reason. I expect these companies prefer candidates with more experience for their associate roles, and I wouldn't be able to apply for BA or JA roles with an MBA.

Am I correct in my concerns? What would be the best course of action? I have thought about some possibilities:

- Follow current plan: Apply now to MBA and try my luck in admissions and consulting recruiting after I get in

- Apply for MBA next year (with 1 more year of work experience), hopefully get into a better school and have more chances in consulting recruiting

- Apply for a 1-year MSBA such as Fuqua MQM (more geared towards people with less work experience than the MBA) and try consulting placement from there (not sure at what level, not even sure if top consulting firms recruit from Fuqua MQM or similar programs, can anyone enlighten me?)

- Apply for consulting now. The only issue here is that I am not sure if it would be wise to join consulting now with less than 2 years of work authorization.

- Return to home country now, which is not an option as my partner (same nationality) is finishing their masters and would like to work in the US for at least the extent of her OPT (3 years)

Any insight is appreciated, thank you!

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Benjamin
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Content Creator
updated an answer on Aug 27, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi there,

Here are my thoughts:

However, I am not sure if I will get into the top programs with my short work experience

Furthermore, I am unsure of whether I will even be able to secure a consulting job after the MBA because of this same reason. I expect these companies prefer candidates with more experience for their associate roles, and I wouldn't be able to apply for BA or JA roles with an MBA

  • This concern is less legitimate
  • Once you enter a top MBA program - you are eligible to apply for OCR (official campus recruitment)
  • Your application strength will determine whether you pass screening, but take note that this is a holistic assessment and not just on your work experience
  • In addition, effective networking can also increase your chances of landing an interview

So what should you do? I would suggest 2 things

  1. Try applying now
    • Typically in pre-COVID era, applying with 1 year of work experience is still acceptable and as long as you have a strong CV you will still stand a chance
    • The challenge now is that business is not good in most parts of the world, including US, so the chances of landing a role can be extremely low (office dependent of course)
    • Moreoever, even if you are rejected now, the ban ‘resets' when you get into a top MBA program
  2. In parallel, I would also start focusing on maximizing your chance of entering into a top MBA program, which would be mean applying next year, or even the following year (given your visa constraints)
    • Until then, I would be preparing and crafting a strong story and application
    • After you get into a top MBA program, then you worry about MBB recruiting, but that is far away and you should not worry about it now

All the best!

(edited)

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Cristian
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updated an answer on Aug 27, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there,

Basically, in difficult times, the best strategy is to diversify. 

This way, at least SOMETHING will work out. 

So in short, do everything that you mentioned (aside from the last point which is a very different direction). 

Realistically, as long as you prepare MBA applications, you can use the same content for the MSBA application. If you're planning on applying for consulting roles, you might as well give it a go now already - even if it doesn't work out, you'll still get a priceless lesson from the process. 

In short, get going, get in action mode and start placing your bets rather than spending a lot of energy on which single one to go for. 

Sharing with you a guide on how to put together a diversified application strategy:

Best,
Cristian

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Practicing for interviews? Check out my latest case based on a first-round MBB interview >>> SoyTechnologies  

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Aug 27, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: What would be the best course of action? 

I would recommend the following:

  1. Apply for consulting now without MBA (option #4).
  2. If that doesn’t work, apply for a top MBA this year and apply for consulting again after it (option #1).
  3. If you don’t get a satisfactory MBA admission, repeat the previous steps next year (option #2 and/or option #4).

I don’t see reasons to do a MSBA instead of an MBA (option #3) given your goals and moving back home (option #5) is not really an option from what you shared.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Andi
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replied on Aug 27, 2023
BCG 1st & Final Round interviewer | Personalized prep with >95% success rate | 7yrs coaching | #1 for Experienced Hires

Hi there,

thanks for sharing - happy to share some thoughts.

  1. MBA Option - with 1 year of work experience, you'll find it hard getting into most programs. To have a realistic chance, would have at least 1-2 more years of work experience
  2. MBB Application - with your current profile, you may have a chance, so suggest you try now, and if it doesn't work out, can try again at a later stage, e.g. post-MBA. Not really any harm done if it doesn't work immediately.
  3. MSBA Option - the placement rates from such programs would be significantly lower than from fully-fledged MBA programs, so don't suggest that route as I don't really sa
  4. Work authorization - would not worry too much about that for now. If you qualify for an MBB while you still have work authorization, the visa situation will be fairly easy to sort out anyways. For now you should be fine.

Hope this helps. Feel free tor reach out and share your CV, if you'd like to have more specified advice based on your exact profile.

Regards, Andi

 

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Dec 01, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Great answer from Benjamin - second it

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Sophia
Expert
replied on Aug 29, 2023
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Remember that the options that you laid out are not mutually exclusive! You can apply now, and if something doesn’t work out, apply again in a year, and so on. So, generally speaking, I agree with the strategy Francesco recommended here. Apply now, if that doesn’t work out try for an MBA, and if that doesn’t work out, try again next year. 

I would just add here that you should be judicious with the schools you apply to the first year if you think there’s realistically a decent chance you’ll need to reapply the next year – you don’t want to get an MBA offer, reject it because you think you can get into a better school next year, and then apply to that school again.

Also, not having a lot of work experience is not a barrier for entering consulting. All that that would determine is the role you are going to be applying for – e.g., with 2 years of work experience, you are probably looking at an Analyst/Senior Analyst position.

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer
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