Leaving MBB after 1 year

MBB phd quitting
New answer on Feb 21, 2021
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 11, 2021

Hello, I have been working at mbb for 10 months now. Joined with a PhD. I am thinking about quitting. Despite getting good reviews and feedback, I am stressed all the time and overwhelmed my the job. I do like the projects and people I met, but I cannot manage the stress. Is this a common feeling, or should I just go ahead and quit?

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Florian
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

The stress is pretty common and natural given the types of engagements, expectations, and work hours. However, before quitting I'd try to find other ways to improve your lifestyle to extend your employment up to 2 years.

  • Take extra vacation days/ weeks between projects (McKinsey has 'Take-Time', i guess others have similar programs,...)
  • Change your perspective. If you do not plan to build a long-term career with your firm, there is NO need to sweat the smaller stuff. Based on what you say about your performance, you are already well-established. That gives you a lot of room to build your own regiment compared to low-performers. How? (Push back unreasonable requests, block 'me' time during the week, manage lifestyle expectations from the beginning of an engagement,...)
  • Use the weekends to recharge (friends, family, short getaways,...); block all weekend work if there even is any
  • Optimize the projects you are working on (look for projects that are long-running, a client that has been a long-term client of your firm, work with people you enjoy working with from leadership to project management,...)
  • Minimize travel, which always creates extra stress (unless you are a fan of separating work and leisure time)
  • Learn how to become more resilient (sports, mindfulness,...)
  • Stretch the duration between projects by doing classic beach work (proposals, research stuff,...
  • ....

As you see, there are many ways to improve your lifestyle that have control over. It might take a while but if you manage to implement some of these tips you might reduce your perceived stress considerably AND get the benefit of staying with an MBB for 2 years.

Remember, it is all a game and the short term stressors (short term changes, f*ck-ups, etc.) are often overblown to a comical extent when looking at them now in hindsight.

All the best with your decision!

Cheers,

Florian

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Ken
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

Sorry to hear you've been having a hard time. What you're experiencing is relatively common but over a prolonged period is more rare and also concerning. Based on what you've shared, it appears that the stress you are experiencing is slighly more self-inflicted (vs. consecutive intense projects, bad clients, toxic team dynamic, etc.) and so I do wonder how much of a mindset shift you feel is possible if you were to continue.

Having said that, I do know the honest and unfortunate reality where I know a handful of close friends and colleagues who would find themselves in the bathroom crying due to the stress and pressure. The job is not for everyone and if you have started to reach that realisation, moving on might be best for your wellbeing. I personally was always suprised by the number of colleagues who had experienced a burnout but still kept going, of which some ended up leaving the job as it was no longer physically possible for them.

When I made the decision to leave McKinsey, I had the opportunity to speak with 100+ alums of which the consistent messages I heard were "I wish I had left earlier" and "the real benefits of being at McKinsey happen not during but after you leave". Hopefully some food for thought!

Do take care of yourself and feel free to DM me if you want to connect.

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Henning
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Hi A!

It is normal to be stressed. Working in this field is demanding and everybody has these thoughts at some point along the way. I'm not suggesting your decision to go either way, just want to offer sympathy and the notion that it's not just you.

The question you'll eventually need to ask is whether this demand in your professional life is a price to pay for the price of working on interesting projects with great people (and of course the more materialistic rewards). No judgement either way, it's a decision everybody needs to make for themselves.

The upside is that if you stay a bit longer, your exit will look much more natural. An exit after less than a year is much shorter than average (depending on country & firm, probably between 2-4 years). Either way, it probably makes sense to start looking for a job while still at MBB, then the conversation on the motivation of leaving becomes an easier one.

Hope this helps.

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Clara
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replied on Feb 13, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

The funny thing is that I can assure you that 99% of hte people who started with you are feeling exactly the same way, although not everyone talks about it!

I would try to give it some more months, becuase it truly does get better. Gets more under control.

This said, if it´s not for you, don´t feel any pressure to stay. You already have the brand, and the partners and people you met will help you in the way out a lot!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Adi
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replied on Feb 12, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Totally agree with other coaches..the main tip from my perspective is this: Your wellbeing must be in your hands and not on outside situations. Do your best to fix the situations outside of you but call it a day if situations dont improve. Life is short and not worth the suffering.

Hope it gets better for you.

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Antonello
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, it is normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and alternate states of enthusiasm and periods of tiredness. Consider that the average period spent at MBB is 2.5y. A big good luck for you PhD (:

Best,
Antonello

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Raj
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replied on Feb 21, 2021
Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 170+ coached over career |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]

Generally speaking it's a good idea to stay around for 1 promotion cycle. By that point you'll have picked up a lot of the actual value consulting offers as a starter career. This will help you in your career in the long-term.

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Gaurav
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updated an answer on Feb 12, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

I advise you a few things:

1) It is common to constantly think about your work. It would be preferable if your thoughts were more on the interesting nature of the work than the worry of whether you will get it done. The start period at MBB firms is often intense and very stressful as you’re not used to the pace and expectations. You’ll get used to it over time.

2) Clarify what the source of your stress is. Are you worried that you won’t complete the work till the deadline? Or are you concerned that you may not understand the assignments and how to complete the work?

3) You should change the atmosphere sometimes and go out with friends or family. When you have a day off, take time for yourself and do not think about your job. The most important thing is your mental and physical health.

Wish you the best and think about everything before making any decision.

Cheers,

GB

(edited)

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Vlad
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

First of all, ask yourself what's exactly causing the stress?

It can be a lack of experience, unstructured engagements, constantly changing requirements, etc.

Once you identify the root cause, you can ask the advice on how to manage it. Every stress is different and you should try to overcome it first.

Best

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Udayan
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

It is extremely common to consider leaving MBB all the time. Very few people are always happy there given the crazy expectations on work hours and deadlines etc.

My suggestion would be to try and take a longer break and see if that helps. The reality is leaving in 1 year is not always viewed favorably from a recruiting perspetive. It signals that you were not a strong performer even if that is not the case. If you can stick it out for 2 years I would recommend it. If not then you should do what is best for you at the end of the day.

Udayan

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Ian
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replied on Feb 11, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I completely understand.

First, remember that the first year is absolutely the hardest. I remember my first project
(10 months long actually). It was HARD. But, things did get easier afterwards as I worked more efficiently, learned boundaries, etc. (i.e. what actually has to be done vs what doesn't).

Second, think about your long-term goals. 5 years from now will you be totally fine with having quit (and be in a good position both career and life-wise)? Or, would you be happier if you gritted it out for another 6-12 months?

If you can, I highly advise trying to get to the 1.5 year mark. Set a goal and work towards that.

Furthermore, take advantage of leave and other office programs to extend your time there.

Feel free to reach out. Happy to talk about this further...there's a lot you can do to make the going easier!

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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