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Is my window for consulting closing?

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New answer on Apr 23, 2024
7 Answers
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Jacob asked on Apr 17, 2024

I graduated in 2022 with a BA in marketing and had some very miniscule (but relevant as far as experience goes) success entrepreneurially and am now eager to start a consulting career.

The question that has been nagging me the past few days as I prepare for the application and interview process is if my chances of being considered for an interview will be greatly decreased if I wait to apply until after the current recruiting cycle since I've already been out of school for nearly two full years.

I am waiting to hear back regarding application timelines from two of my targets but the main thing I'd love to ask them is if they have requirements for how long someone can be out of school for before they are no longer considered by that firm as recent grads and would then need to gain work experience before trying to apply.

To make a long story short, If I wait to apply until the next hiring cycle will that be disqualifying me from contention at some of these firms?

Thank you.

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Krithika
Expert
replied on Apr 17, 2024
Top-tier Life Sciences Case Interview Coach| MBA2026 LBS Admit | Consulting Expert

I understand your concerns about the right time to apply for consulting positions and how your entrepreneurial and professional experiences might impact your applications. Here's some insight based on my own career path and that of others who have successfully transitioned into consulting.

Firstly, it's important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the ideal time to apply to consulting firms. Each candidate's journey is unique. For instance, I worked at a small boutique consultancy for around two years before making the shift to a Tier 2 consulting firm. This experience was crucial in building up my relevant skills and understanding of the industry, which significantly bolstered my profile when applying to larger firms.

Similarly, a friend of mine focused on growing their startup for three years before deciding to transition into consulting. Their entrepreneurial experience was seen as a valuable asset by consulting firms, as it highlighted key skills such as problem-solving, initiative-taking, and business management.

Given your background, having graduated in 2022 and already accumulating some relevant entrepreneurial successes, you are already on a promising path. If you are considering waiting to apply after the current recruiting cycle, it is typically not a disqualifier. Many consulting firms appreciate varied experiences and the diverse perspectives that come with them. Moreover, having nearly two years out of school does not necessarily place you outside the 'recent graduate' category, especially when you've continued to build professional skills relevant to consulting.

My advice would be to continue gaining relevant experience, whether in another small consultancy or through entrepreneurial ventures, and remain open to the possibility of re-entering the job market as a graduate if that suits your career goals at the time. Consulting firms value diverse experiences, and your proactive approach to career planning will stand out positively.

Please feel free to discuss further any specific concerns or additional areas where you might need guidance. I'm here to help you strategize and make the most informed decisions for your career in consulting.

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Iman
Expert
updated an answer on Apr 19, 2024
Systemiq | Ex-BCG | 10 years experience with 8+ specialising in sustainability | Free Intro | Ex-PrepLounge candidate

What is the relevant experience that you are working in now? Can you share more so we can give more nuanced feedback? A marketing degree isn't a typical target degree, so my feedback would be dependent on your current role.

You're right that most firms have definitions/thresholds to match candidates with roles. This is for 2 very good reasons:

1. From your perspective: So you are rewarded (including remuneration) in accordance with your experience. 

2. From their perspective: So you get staffed in an appropriate project and role. 

If your current role is in marketing or something related to that, I would find a strategy or other related role elsewhere and then apply for a non-entry level but junior consulting role a few years down the line. 

If your current role is already something truly relevant such as strategy, you could try for the grad role, but in all honesty you may have better luck (and more fun) if you wait a couple years, consolidate your skillset, and apply for a non-entry level but junior consulting role.

Hope this helps!

Happy to provide more nuanced feedback after learning about your current role :)

(edited)

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Hani
Expert
replied on Apr 17, 2024
Associate and All-star Interviewer at OW | Ex-S& | 5+ years in the Middle East |300+ Interviews | INSEAD MBA

Hello there,

The concern you have is quite valid. Many firms have specific recruiting cycles and criteria for what they consider to be "recent graduates." Generally, this category can include individuals who have graduated within the last two to three years, but this can vary significantly between organizations. 

If you wait until the next hiring cycle, you may indeed find yourself outside the typical window for a recent graduate at some firms, which could potentially impact your eligibility for certain entry-level positions that are specifically targeted at recent grads. However, this doesn't mean you would be completely disqualified from consideration; rather, you might need to apply for slightly different roles that require some professional experience.

If your bachelor's degree is not relevant to consulting (marketing is not typically a targeted degree like engineering or economics) or comes from a university that isn't typically targeted by the firms you're interested in, you might face additional challenges, but there are still effective strategies such as networking, further education or certifications, target boutique firms, target for an internship or freelance projects.

Hope this helps!
 

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 17, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Jacob, you just graduated from university. Of course, your consulting window is not closing. It's not like you're 35 and trying to become an Olympic gymnast. This is just a job where the interview process consists of testing for some cognitive skills that you can develop within the space of a few months. 

My recommendation, though, is to always apply in whatever cycle is the closest. 

The rationale is that even if things don't work out, you will still learn more from the experience of failing than not having applied at all. 

Here is a guide that will walk you through how to develop an application strategy:

And do reach out if you have follow-up questions.

Best,
Cristian 

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 17, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

I wouldn't wait any longer to apply. It's been 2 years since you graduated so you would fall into “experienced hire” category. You therefore have to highlight your relevant experience since graduation to showcase as to why you'd be a valuable addition to any consulting firm.

The present economic environment isn't very favorable of course but there is also no guarantee that it fundamentally changes anytime soon. So you should spend some time and energy on networking efforts and try to secure internal referrals from employees of the firms you want to apply to. That will increase your chances for getting invited to the first round of interviews at least.

Good luck

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 18, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Jacob,

Q: If I wait to apply until the next hiring cycle will that be disqualifying me from contention at some of these firms? 

You can apply also after 2 years from graduation, but in that case some firms won’t consider you for a position as recent grad. Depending on your needs, it could make sense to apply now or wait. If you don’t have specific reasons to wait, I would recommend applying now.

You can find some tips on how to get invitations below:

▶ How to Get a Consulting Interview Invitation

Good luck!

Francesco

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Apr 23, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

The window never closes. But the window gets narrower every year.

But honestly, what is the decision you want to make?

You can apply now, you can apply next year. If you apply now you have more chances than next year. It works like this:

- Option 1: If you apply this year you can make it or not. If you don't make it you apply next year. You get 2 chances.

- Option 2: If you don't apply this year… you can apply next year. You get 1 chance.

What's the doubt?

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Krithika gave the best answer

Krithika

Top-tier Life Sciences Case Interview Coach| MBA2026 LBS Admit | Consulting Expert
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