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Michal

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Is it more stressful to work for top companies like google, facebook, apple etc. or for top consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG or Bain?

I am at the beginning of my studies and considering both, but have no experience so far. My plan is to apply for internships, but I'm already curious if somebody can compare the stress level at both type of firms including work-life-balance.

I would appreciate any input! Thanks :)

I am at the beginning of my studies and considering both, but have no experience so far. My plan is to apply for internships, but I'm already curious if somebody can compare the stress level at both type of firms including work-life-balance.

I would appreciate any input! Thanks :)

3 answers

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Hi there,

I was a consultant at Bain, so I certainly know the consulting side of the story. I also have friends at Facebook and Google, so even though I don't have direct experience from these companies, I can tell you what I feel is the case.

In general, I think it's more stressful at the McK, BCG and Bain because:

1. You work for a client. The client has paid a lot for your services, your project has a deadline, and the client is determined to extract as much value from you in the given timeframe.

2. You are rarely an expert at the start of whatever project you are working on, so the learning curve is very steep in each project. You often feel like an impostor if you are working in a highly specific area (say, avionics systems) for people with 25 years of experience. The ever-lasting newness can be exhilarating at the beginning, but it can wear you down with time.

3. Projects are often of a stressful nature - transformation, cost-cutting, due dilligence. At major tech companies you often work on more organic things.

On the other hand, it can sometimes be stressful at Google and Facebook because:

1. In some departments, especially sales, you have very strict targets (e.g. monthly sales), so it's stressful if you are not on track to meet those

2. You work with the same people constantly, which can be a double-edged sword. If your boss/colleague is generating stress, you are less likely than in consulting to break free from them in the short term

Hope it's helpful!

Best,

Michal

Hi there,

I was a consultant at Bain, so I certainly know the consulting side of the story. I also have friends at Facebook and Google, so even though I don't have direct experience from these companies, I can tell you what I feel is the case.

In general, I think it's more stressful at the McK, BCG and Bain because:

1. You work for a client. The client has paid a lot for your services, your project has a deadline, and the client is determined to extract as much value from you in the given timeframe.

2. You are rarely an expert at the start of whatever project you are working on, so the learning curve is very steep in each project. You often feel like an impostor if you are working in a highly specific area (say, avionics systems) for people with 25 years of experience. The ever-lasting newness can be exhilarating at the beginning, but it can wear you down with time.

3. Projects are often of a stressful nature - transformation, cost-cutting, due dilligence. At major tech companies you often work on more organic things.

On the other hand, it can sometimes be stressful at Google and Facebook because:

1. In some departments, especially sales, you have very strict targets (e.g. monthly sales), so it's stressful if you are not on track to meet those

2. You work with the same people constantly, which can be a double-edged sword. If your boss/colleague is generating stress, you are less likely than in consulting to break free from them in the short term

Hope it's helpful!

Best,

Michal

(edited)

I worked at McKinsey, and now work at Google. Here's my take on this:

1. Salary at M > @ G.
2. Salary per hour at G > 2 M
3. Weekends are sacred at G; not at M.
4. Things are more top-down at M, not at G - a bad partner can screw up your life at M, but a bad manager can't do the same (for too long) at G.
5. General work-life balance and other perks at G are WAY > than those at M.
6. Depending on where you land up, prestige and visibility to execs at M is WAY > than at G.

I general, I'd pick M over G if I am <28-30yrs of age. After 30, I prefer G over M with the following notes:
1. You love consulting and want to make partner, then stay at M.
2. You want to startup, leave M asap and move to G.
3. You enjoy owning P&L, find a good exit from M and move to G or elsewhere as a general manager.

-H

I worked at McKinsey, and now work at Google. Here's my take on this:

1. Salary at M > @ G.
2. Salary per hour at G > 2 M
3. Weekends are sacred at G; not at M.
4. Things are more top-down at M, not at G - a bad partner can screw up your life at M, but a bad manager can't do the same (for too long) at G.
5. General work-life balance and other perks at G are WAY > than those at M.
6. Depending on where you land up, prestige and visibility to execs at M is WAY > than at G.

I general, I'd pick M over G if I am <28-30yrs of age. After 30, I prefer G over M with the following notes:
1. You love consulting and want to make partner, then stay at M.
2. You want to startup, leave M asap and move to G.
3. You enjoy owning P&L, find a good exit from M and move to G or elsewhere as a general manager.

-H

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Hi,

I worked in Strategy Consulting for 3 years with clients from companies. Strategy Consulting is usually longer hours and more stressful. We would be working 14-16 hour days, when the guys working in industry leave at 6pm.

Saying this, it does depend on project, client and deadlines. If you are a management consultant your hours can be a lot more relaxed to 9-5 for Programme Manager and if you work in Google Strategy a lot more stressful.

In terms of experience - I would apply to both and see which one you get interviews for. People move around between so either experience would be awesome to have and after if you are not happy with work-life balance you can switch with a better CV.

Hi,

I worked in Strategy Consulting for 3 years with clients from companies. Strategy Consulting is usually longer hours and more stressful. We would be working 14-16 hour days, when the guys working in industry leave at 6pm.

Saying this, it does depend on project, client and deadlines. If you are a management consultant your hours can be a lot more relaxed to 9-5 for Programme Manager and if you work in Google Strategy a lot more stressful.

In terms of experience - I would apply to both and see which one you get interviews for. People move around between so either experience would be awesome to have and after if you are not happy with work-life balance you can switch with a better CV.

(edited)

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