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Is it more difficult to get into MBBs for an Entry Level Position rather than an Internship?

consulting full-time internship MBB
New answer on Jul 08, 2024
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 20, 2024

Good morning,

I am about to graduate from a target university with a one year master. Unfortunately now I can't do internships anymore as I am terminating my studies and I found out consulting too late. Many firms are asking me to apply as a full time, but I only have 6 months of experience in non consulting background (strategy in tech) and I am afraid the interviews will be way harder than for internships. Also many people told me that it's practically impossible to break into MBBs without having an internship there before. What do you think?

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Florian
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 20, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

Let's unpack the questions from the text:

I am afraid the interviews will be way harder than for internships.

  • The interviews are essentially the same in terms of format and style, with slight differences related to the evaluation. 
  • For all firms, you would go through a mix of case and fit interviews.
  • For full-time roles, the interviews are usually split into two rounds with 2-3 interviews per round. For internships, you would have usually one round with 2-3 interviews.
  • The recruitment tests and games are also the same
  • Now for the evaluation criteria, full-time expectations are a bit higher, especially on the business sense and judgment (for the case) and impact and responsibilities (for the fit). Nonetheless, it's almost the same, and no big difference here for you. It also does not change your preparation plan

Also many people told me that it's practically impossible to break into MBBs without having an internship there before. 

  • That is not true. A simple LinkedIn search shows you that's a myth.
  • What is true, however, is that you need an excellent resume/CV that demonstrates consistent excellence across a couple of dimensions (education, work experience, time abroad, leadership and initiatives)

In a nutshell, it's possible to enter consulting without a consulting internship. You need to have a good degree (ideally target uni) with a strong GPA, some relevant work experience (yours seems to fit, ideally more than one employer though), and some add-ons to improve your chances.

Networking and referrals can also improve your chances.

All the best and reach out if you need help!

Cheers,

Florian

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Ariadna
Expert
updated an answer on Jun 20, 2024
BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School

Hey there! 

To specifically address your concerns: 

1. Are interviews for full time positions harder than for internships?

Not really, no. I would even argue that cases are pretty much the same. Occasionally for an internship position candidates could get a tad more slack for not having less depth of business knowledge. 

But think about it this way: interns and new joiners are asked to do essentially the same job, so why would the interview process be too different?

2. Can you break into MBB w/o an internship there before? 

Absolutely yes and plenty of people do it. Though it is fair to say that the relatively slower hiring would have impact across all categories - the one you are in as well. 

As with any application you would have to have a strong CV, compelling story and something that shows (ideally proves) your interest in consulting. But this would be pretty much true for an internship position as well in this competitive environment. 

So, what I would concretely do in your case: 

1. Get some confirmation from HR that you could indeed apply for Entry Level positions directly w/o internships (though it sounds like this step is ticked)  

2. Really work on your CV / story and tailor it for consulting applications. I cannot stress enough how important this is. 

3. Make use of any networking opportunities from your target school to ideally secure referrals. 

4. & 5. (order depends on your current level) Apply for the consulting internships and prepare really well for the cases. 

The way I think about it: worst case scenario you are rejected for MBB, you would still be very well positioned to get a non-MBB good (and highly relevant) consulting position. With that you can always re-apply for MBB the following year. 

Good luck, 

Ariadna 

(edited)

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 21, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: Is it more difficult to get into MBBs for an Entry Level Position rather than an Internship?

If you apply for an internship, you basically get two shots instead of one (if you fail the internship application, you can apply for full time the next year). Thus is possible it is preferable to apply for an internship as you will have more chances to land a full-time role.

This doesn’t mean you cannot join a consulting company without an internship before – I helped many candidates who joined without previous consulting internships. Additionally, if you want to work in consulting, it doesn’t really matter whether it is more difficult or not, as from what you shared the only option you have is to apply for full time now.

At this stage, I would focus solely on doing your best for your application and interview prep rather than on the exact chances. You can find some tips on that below:

How to Land a Consulting Offer

Good luck!

Francesco

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Jun 20, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Private Equity | Market Estimates | Fit Interview

Is it more difficult to get into MBBs for an Entry Level Position rather than an Internship?

Technically yes. I don't think the difference is that significant, but the bar is a bit lower (because internship candidates are a bit less prepared for case interviews… have less experience / maturity, and also because consulting firms know they can take more risk as they will not be hired as full time employees). But the cases will be the same and evaluation criteria the same as well.

Also many people told me that it's practically impossible to break into MBBs without having an internship there before. What do you think?

This is absolutely false. Large majority of consultants did not intern at a consulting firm. Having said this, with the current recruiting environment, a large part of the openings will be filled with interns... also for MBAs… most will be hired during 1Y internship.

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 21, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

That's not true. 

The vast majority of my candidates are not going for internships. Lots of people go directly for full time roles. 

Is it easier to get in with an internship? Somewhat, yes, because the expectations from an intern are also smaller. So is the compensation. 

But if you cannot apply as an intern then it's outside of your control. 

What you need instead is a good applications strategy to go for a full time role. 

You might find this useful:

Expert Guide: Build A Winning Application Strategy

Best,
Cristian

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Ashwin
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Jun 21, 2024
Ex Bain Manager , Deloitte Director| 200+ MBB Offers | INSEAD

Hi,

Interviews for full-time roles and internships are similar in format, involving a mix of case and fit interviews. Full-time roles usually have two rounds of 2-3 interviews each, while internships typically have one round of 2-3 interviews.

Full-time roles may have slightly higher expectations in terms of demonstrating required skills - structured thinking, top-down communication, business intuition and leadership impact but the preparation is essentially the same.

You don't need to have an internship at an MBB to break in. A strong resume/CV with excellent academic credentials, leadership experiences can suffice. Purposeful Networking and referrals can significantly boost your chances.

All the best,

Regards
 

(edited)

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 08, 2024
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching

Hi there,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your situation:

  • First of all, you will have a second round of interviews and expectations might be a little higher, but there is no real difference between applying for an internship and applying for a full-time position.
  • Moreover, you can of course start at a consulting firm without a consulting internship. That being said, at this point there is no point in pondering about what might or might not be, as you simply haven't done a consulting internship. All you can do is polish your application files, secure a strong referral, apply and wait for the outcome.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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