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Joining entry-level after 29/30

age MBB
New answer on Jul 21, 2023
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 17, 2023

I will be joining MBB at the post-undergrad level close to 30. 

I took a windy path post-college including a non-MBA grad degree with 4 years of work experience after. 

There wasn't an intermediate level (e.g. Junior Associate) at the office I applied to thus the rank downgrade.

Anyone had the same experience, and how did you cope with feeling conscious about age (which I already am and expect will intensify)

Appreciate all and any advice!

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Benjamin
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updated an answer on Jul 17, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

I started in consulting after undergrad, but I've worked in consulting for >8 years - so sharing my perspective having both worked along side and having managed experienced hires (who were much older) as a PL/Principal

  1. Nobody cares about your age
    • I want to clarify that age is never a factor with regards to anything material in your MBB journey
      • i.e. this will not factor into staffing, it will not factor into internal mobility opportunities or how you are graded/evaluated
    • MBB is outcome driven - firms care about your ability to get the job done
    • Everyone is expected to perform at a certain level, as per the expectations of their role/position
    • Personally - I have never once cared about the age of my managers/partners and neither have they cared about my age
    • Once you start on the job, you will quickly realize that you will hands down rather a great Manager/PL that is younger that you, versus an older Manager/PL that cant do the job
  2. To me, the only key implication on how age can potentially affect your MBB career is in terms of your physical/personal capacity and related considerations to do the job
    • Physically - consulting is a gruelling industry - and generally it does get harder to keep up with the hours/intensity as you get older
    • Personally - as you are older, you may have other commitments (e.g. wife, kids) that may influence some of your career choices e.g. in terms of travel
    • That being said - in the relative scale of things, 29/30 isnt old….or at least as someone who is 30+ I'd like to think so :)
    • I've known and worked with people who came in to a post-MBA role but at the very late 30s/almost 40 - and they were still able to have good trajectories and careers in consulting
  3. Use your age/added experience to your advantage
    • Instead, think about what you can bring to the table to differentiate yourself
    • Having a longer experience before joining consulting means that you can demonstrate greater maturity, industry insights, better people engagement etc

Much of this also depends on your perspective on life (and also the people close to you). I don't think life is a race, different people go through different paths in life and within that - different paths to get to a specific path. At my time at both Kearney and BCG, I rarely met anyone who would have made you feel bad or negative about ‘starting later’ - even the ones who were very ambitious and had specific goals in mind about fast progression.

So really - don't sweat it. I still don't know the exact ages of some of the colleagues I've worked with. 

(edited)

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Cristian
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replied on Jul 17, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

I can understand how age can be challenging, but it's all just a matter of perspective. 

Being 30 is (absolutely) by no means old. You're barely at the start of your career. And your age is not a liability, but an asset in comparison with your younger and more inexperienced colleagues. 

Both clients and colleagues will take you more serious as a consequence of it, plus knowing certain industries better will actually serve as an advantage and will most likely contribute to improved performance. 

Sharing with you a couple of articles you might find useful about how to be a distinctive consultant in your first year:

Best,
Cristian


 

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Ian
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replied on Jul 17, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Love Benjamin's answer here!

He's absolutely right. No one cares about your age - just perform well. And, use it to your advantage.

Come in with a learning mindset, make sure to not be too ground in your ways of working/thinking, and just be ready to learn/grow.

You'll find that, if you're in a company surrounded by smart/driven people, everyone is pretty “equal” (we all mingled regardless of age…)

Here's some reading to help you thrive while there: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/tips-for-consultans

 

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Udayan
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replied on Jul 17, 2023
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

It's important to remember everyone has their own path for their career. Staffing etc will not care about your age but they will care about your past experience and what you bring to the project, which almost always works in the favor of someone older with work experience.

From what I have seen, joining later works out in two ways :

  1. Consultants work hard and have the backing of their past experience which helps them get promoted a lot faster. Soon the age gap pretty much goes away as especially at the manager level and older people tend to be older than 30.
  2. OR - they realize much sooner this is not for them, they do the work required to get the MBB stamp of approval on their resume and leave to join a better role for them sooner.

With either outcome you will be fine. The best thing to do is not to be conscious about your age and no one else will be either.

Best,
Udayan

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Mamoun
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replied on Jul 17, 2023
Prepares you to crack ALL cases | Interviewer with recent cases, 150+ interviews, 6+ years exp (France, MENA)

Hi,

I am quite aligned with Benjamin's answer. I am adding a few points notably on how to cope with that feeling (it is quite personal though, each one has its own triggers, drivers, etc.).

  • You will learn a new job, be humble! Consulting is quite a normative industry (more or less depending on the firms), partners/managers are used to work, think, write in a certain way, and they expect their team to follow suit and learn the consultant way of thinking. The main difference between you and an undergrad is that you have been working for 4 years, you built work methods and habits, received feedback and improved accordingly, while an undergrad is a “clean slate”. Meaning that you need to be willing to “erase” and relearn things (depending in which industry you worked in previously) which might be trickier than learning something for the first time (that you know you don't know).
  • You mostly will benefit from being older, so embrace it!  
    • As Benjamin mentioned you are more mature, have more experience and you should definitely leverage that to perform to your best level. 
    • Nobody cares about your age, but certain clients: I came across a few clients who put pressure on partners to not have any “kids fresh out of college” on their projects (heard that during pitches), so some partners would favor - other things being equal - someone looking older (but no one will confess that)
    • Being older might help you will fit better with partners and clients. Age is obviously not the only factor, but you are more likely to have similar interests, tastes, etc. with someone who is at a similar point in life e.g., kids 
  • That being said, your ego might take a hit, be convinced!
    • The “why” can be critical in helping you overcome the lows. You need to be convinced that choosing that path will bear fruits later and that you just need to trust the process 
    • Prepare for the worst, hope for the best (seems like you are doing this based on your question). Think about the situations that can hurt your ego. Do they seem to hard to overcome / get over? What am I ready to accept and what is a hard stop/no?
    • Get inspired. There are plenty of inspiring people with “windy” paths (probably way more than yours), this might comfort you in the fact that age is just a number.  

Your “windy” path can actually be what make you stand out. 

I hope this helps. 

PS: I joined consulting as undergrad, so I built on my experience working with older pals and personal experiences in other topics 

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Sophia
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replied on Jul 21, 2023
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Congratulations on your new job! I second the advice here that no one cares about your age, as long as you work well! Definitely come in with an open mindset, and a willingness to learn and take initiative. If anything, I would try to think of your age as your advantage - people joining MBB straight out of undergrad tend to have very little work experience, and as a result face a steep learning curve in terms of simply navigating the world of work. You already have 4 years of work experience, so you're likely to feel more comfortable in a corporate environment. Your age might also give you an advantage in terms of looking more senior and experienced with clients and colleagues. I know it's easier said than done, but definitely try not to feel conscious about your age, it truly does not matter. Best of luck!

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Agrim
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replied on Jul 19, 2023
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

You will have 4 years of extra experience compared to the younger Associate you are feeling conscious about.

Trust me, those 4 years will show themselves clearly. If you continue to hang around in the same consulting firm by 35, you will appreciate and relish those 4 years of windy path.

Your race is your own. If you really wanted to feel insecure, why stop at comparing against a fellow consultant? Why not compare yourself with Mark Zuckerberg who was a multi-billionaire by 30, and I guarantee you'll feel much worse about yourself. Bear in mind that the younger consultant might quite consulting 2 years later and do a windy-job for 4 years - who knows?

The way I understand - you have taken a decision to join consulting that is likely going to shape your next 3-5-10 years of career. If your decision is already firm, then you have already evaluated all pros and cons. No point in thinking about regretting the decision. 

As others point out in the answers, starting consulting at 30 is not late whatsoever, and you have a very long runways ahead of you.

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer
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