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Is it possible for me to join MBB with a bad high school diploma (Abitur)?

Anonymous A

Hi all!

My situation is the following: I'm currently in my Masters and have successfully completed my Bachelor degree in business administration in Germany (GPA: 1.3). I studied a semester abroad in Canada, did a 6 months non consulting internship and one working student job. Unfortunately, my high school GPA (Abitur) is only 2.9. Is it possible for me to pass the CV selection process at MBB or do I have no chance because of my high school GPA? Where could I apply?

Hope someone can answer me this, I would appreciate it a lot.

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Ignacio
Expert
replied on 03/15/2017
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You've got some great answer here!

In my opinion, there are 3 main things that will boost your chances of getting past CV stage.

  1. Networking
  2. Impressive work experience
  3. Being as interesting as you can

For the first point, I recommend that you dig into your network (university alumni, family friends, friends of friends). In short, you need to try to connect with people at MBB, build rapport and then ask to be referred. If you would like to discuss how to do this feel free to send me a message.

For the second point, an internship in one of the following will help your CV shine:

  1. Consolidated tech companies (e.g. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn)
  2. New, fast-growth tech companies (e.g. Uber, Deliveroo, Tesla)
  3. Entrepreneurial programs (e.g. EntrepreneurFirst, Rocket Internet)
  4. Entrepreneurial adventures (e.g. joining a 10 person start-up in Shangai, and really taking ownership for its development)
  5. Investment banking (e.g. Goldman Sachs)

Finally, for the third point, you can focus on some of the following things which should help strengthen your intrinsic skills and make people want to know more about you (and hence interview you):

  • Deepen a genuine personal/professional interest that allows you to be more interesting/credible. Your passion will attract people towards you and make you someone they want to work with (i.e. extend you a job offer).
  • Find more leadership role within your community that really makes a difference. Really learn what it means to lead/be part of a group of people towards a challenging common goal.
  • Broaden your knowledge/understanding with a range of completely new and relevant topics. Deepen your understanding by being able to logically develop a personal perspective on any topic instead of regurgitating what you have read or heard.

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to send me a message.

Guennael replied on 03/06/2017
Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist

This is very much a Germany-focused question, so most of our American-centric answers won't be very helpful to you. Yes, there is at least one country where companies focus even more on grades than in the US!

You are currently following a Master's degree after a very solid Undergrad GPA and some (limited) work experience. Based on that, your high school GPA shouldn't matter anymore. I agree with Vlad, don't highlight that GPA but be ready to talk about it if needed. To Hemant's point though, we need more information, including what school you are now attending and what GPA you currently have. Getting into MBB (or Roland Berger in Germany) is always very hard so a variety of things can lead to your application being rejected. Still, if you cannot get through with the application in Germany right now, you do have other options. One is to reapply later after a PhD (you are in Germany after all) or very solid work experience; a second is to apply to other offices in countries that you speak the language of and which may be more open to taking someone with your profile.

PS: While not German myself, I have studied in Germany and worked a few years for a German consultancy in Germany -> never was I asked about my high school career. There is a chance MBB may be different though, we'll need someone who went through that specific channel to weigh in.

Good luck!

Guennael

ex-BCG Dallas

Vlad replied on 03/04/2017
McKinsey / Accenture / More than 300 real MBB cases / Collected all Big 3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi!

It's definitely possible if you could explain why. I would do the following:

1) Don't put GPA in your resume

2) Find someone in the Firm to make a reference. This way you significantly increase the chances of your resume

3) Have a story to expain why you have a low GPA (Worked in parallel, did some project / startup / professional sports)

(edited)

Anonymous B replied on 03/05/2017

Unfortunately, I have made the experience that you won't be able to explain your "bad Abitur" because you won't be invited.

I have a Abitur of 2.1 (German Scale: 1.0 is the best; 4.0 the worst) and a Business Administration and Economics B.Sc. with 1.6 (Top 5% within the last three years in that major) and a Business Administration and Economics M. Sc. with 1.4 (again Top 5%) both at the same (non-target) university in regular studying time.

I completed 2 internships at a well-known consulting firm with strategy context and 2 more at smaller firms in Germany. I have some scholarships (worth 10.000€) and 1 semester abroad in USA. Further working stations in the academic field at my home university (teaching and research assistant).

However, I got rejected by MBB and further top strategy consultanting firms (S&/ATK/RB) in Germany, even though I have visited their workshops and applied through direct contacts.

Until today, I don't know what's the major point of my rejection. But I believe it's because of my bad Abitur of 2.1 and because I wasn't at a private Business school/ target university.

I have heard about the 5-rule: I clearly missed it by having the sum of 5.1 (2.1+1.6+1.4).

Hemant
Expert
replied on 03/04/2017
Ex-Mckinsey, current strategy guy at Google.

You don't mention what you GPAs are out of? 4, 5, or 10?

Low-GPAs do get into MBBs but not without:

- extenuating circumstances leading to low GPA

- high GPAs later in life

- very high performing career later in life

Only way to find out is to apply.