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How can I enter consulting as a former pre-med with a science degree, recent research and healthcare experience, but no med school plans? Interested in boutiques and smaller firms. Any advice? Thanks.

New answer on May 31, 2024
5 Answers
Lakshay asked on May 29, 2024
MBA Student

How should I go about entering consulting? I'm a former pre-med with a science degree from a top 3 state school in California, nothing too extraordinary. Recently decided I don't want to go to med school anymore. After researching other careers decided to try to go into consulting, and eventually branch more into the business world (private equity, etc.) I graduated 2020. So I guess I would be considered as an industry hire now. ~1 year gap in my resume post-grad because of covid, then 3 years of working as a research associate in a biotech lab and some clinical work in healthcare. Basically all my extraciricculars and experiences were med-school tailored. I am in the middle of case prep and am making good progress following along. I'm not looking to apply to MBBs, as I'm sure I come nowhere close to having the accolades that the candidates applying there have. Rather looking to applying to boutiques and smaller firms. Or is there a better way for me to enter the industry? Any advice thanks.

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Best answer
replied on May 30, 2024
Ex-McKinsey |5y consulting experience | Specialization in Psychology | Proven holistic mentor

Q: How to join consulting firms coming from med background?

Hi, Lakshay


Very interesting question. First, I would like you to know that it is totally possible that you join MBB firms. I, myself, met 3 people in my career that came from medical backgrounds (neuroscience more specifically). Consulting firms have been trying to diversify their pool of talents in recent years due to the additional perspectives that those profiles bring to the client. The only difference from application perspective is that people from those profiles start one step before the post-MBA level, so to have more time to get accustomed to the new challenge. So I would encourage you to prepare for and go for all types of consulting firms that you are interested in. You may be surprised by the outcome!

To be accepted to a top consulting firm, in my opinion, you must get to the interview phase (through building a nice CV and doing well in the first-phase test), then show compelling fit stories (e.g., stories of apprenticeship, leadership or resilience) and of course perform well in the case interview. So, I would suggest you build a solid plan for getting up to speed in all those dimensions.

Best of luck!

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Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2024
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

Here's the rationale: your background aligns seamlessly with a transition into consulting, particularly within the healthcare or biotech sectors.

Let's delve into why you're an exceptional candidate:

  1. Scientific Acumen: Possessing a science background is highly coveted by consulting firms, especially those with a focus on healthcare or biotechnology. Your ability to grasp technical intricacies is a valuable asset.
  2. Research Proficiency: Your extensive experience in the biotech laboratory has honed your problem-solving and analytical skills, mirroring the qualities sought after in consultants. Moreover, your clinical exposure offers a nuanced understanding of the healthcare landscape.
  3. Commitment to Case Preparation: Your dedication to delving into case preparation reflects a genuine commitment to the consulting profession. This proactive approach positions you favorably in the recruitment process.

However, there are areas warranting attention:

  1. Business Acumen Enhancement: While your scientific prowess is commendable, bolstering your understanding of business fundamentals through online courses in areas such as financial modeling or healthcare consulting would be advantageous.
  2. Networking Endeavors: Leveraging your network, including former colleagues and alumni engaged in consulting, is paramount. Active engagement on platforms like LinkedIn can facilitate valuable connections within the industry.
  3. Leveraging Skill Sets: When crafting your resume and cover letter, emphasize how your research and clinical experiences translate into consulting competencies. Highlight your adeptness in problem-solving, analytical reasoning, and adept communication of complex scientific concepts.

Foray into Consulting as an Industry Professional:

  1. Target Boutique and Mid-Sized Firms: These firms often exhibit greater receptivity towards industry professionals. Identify firms specializing in healthcare or biotech that align with your career aspirations.
  2. Networking Intensity: Attend industry gatherings, initiate connections with consultants online, and seek guidance from alumni who have transitioned into consulting roles. Establishing a robust network is instrumental in securing opportunities.
  3. Quantification of Achievements: Showcase tangible outcomes from your research endeavors, such as cost savings or process improvements, on your resume. Quantifiable achievements underscore your value proposition.

Exploration of Alternative Trajectories:

  1. Pre-MBA Consulting Programs: Consider programs tailored for industry hires, providing comprehensive training and exposure to consulting practices before transitioning into full-time roles.
  2. Business Analyst Positions: A role as a business analyst in a healthcare or biotech firm can serve as a stepping stone, fostering business acumen and expanding professional networks.

Consideration of Premier Consulting Firms:

While prestigious firms may appear daunting, your unique blend of scientific expertise, healthcare insights, and adept case preparation skills positions you as a compelling candidate. Emphasize these strengths to differentiate yourself effectively.

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Content Creator
replied on May 31, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

There are really multiple ways. The reality is that you often don't end up choosing. 

I typically recommend that candidates with a more eclectic background view their application strategy as a portfolio.

That means applying to multiple firms simultaneously, in different tiers, and optimising the application for each firm as much as possible. 

You never truly know which ones are going to materialise. 

Even if you eventually get into a smaller firm, the important thing is that you broke into the industry and 2 years later you can move between firms. I've seen this happen in multiple cases.

You can read more about how to put together an application strategy here:

Expert Guide: Build A Winning Application Strategy



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Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

diverse backgrounds are common in consulting. You will want to leverage your healthcare experience as a selling point so you should target consulting firms that have a notable presence in healthcare/pharma as the obvious choice. Try to network with partners, managers, consultants from these practice areas to get some feedback and potentially find a way to secure a referral even.

You will need to tailor your CV towards business related topics, however. Highlight any form of business context you might have encountered during your experience as a research associate. Because research and clinical work are areas that will not be applicable in consulting - they are a nice to have in terms of additional competency but they won't compensate for a lack of business understanding/acumen.

Try you luck in consulting an apply - depending on the outcome, you can still consider applying to industry jobs at a later point.


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

1. Apply

2. Network

3. Gain some business experience or training so you steer your profile into business

4. Do an MBA at a top school

To be honest, my suggestion would be applying (if you feel comfortable with networking, please do so, and do it first). And if that doesn't work, and you are sure you want to get into consulting, go for the MBA.

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Anderson gave the best answer


Ex-McKinsey |5y consulting experience | Specialization in Psychology | Proven holistic mentor
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