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Anonymous A asked on Nov 15, 2017 - 2 answers

Hi all,

Im in a bit of a dilemma. I studied engineering and have been in the industry for 2.5 years and I've realised its not for me. Im quite entrepreneurial and i enjoy a fast paced environment. The start ups i have worked on in the past havr sparked my interest in consulting. I have 2 options:

1. Go to business school at a target school and fork our 200k to get myself an interview. It a large time and money committment

2. Transition into MC now and risk starting again as a graduate. My only reservation with this is i don't want to start over again as a 26 year old graduate.

I am aiming for MBB and need some advice as to which pathway has better odds for me? I achieved first class honours in engineering and have competed against 198 other candidates to get the design job I am currently in. I also ran a start up that was profitable and interacted a lot with C-suite execs. Given my cirumstances, I need advice on the best pathway for me and my odds of getting a position.

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updated his answer on Nov 15, 2017
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Hi Anonymous A,

Going to a target business school would be the ‘traditional’ way to get an interview for an Associate position at MBB (called Associate at McKinsey and AT Kearney vs. Consultant at BCG/Bain). Nevertheless, I know some experienced hires that successfully transitioned to MBB without MBA.

The hardest part for your will likely be to get an interview. There is not a written rule and significant differences exist depending on the office and geography but in general:

  • McK/ATK are probably the most open, assuming you have a specific expertise set that they need
  • Bain pretty much does not take anyone out of school and value some experience
  • BCG does hire some experienced hires but that's rare

If you had worked alongside consultants on a project at your company, I would suggest that you ask them to recommend you for an interview. If that is not your case, I recommend to use any other contact or to get in touch with a headhunter rather than sendig a 'cold' application. Once you got an interview... expectations will be mainly the same. Yes, you probably have a slightly better business sense than average candidate due to longer work experience, and yes you might feel more comfortable talking to senior execs, but that will not make a significant difference in how you will be judged.

Let me also precise that experienced hires will be generally penalized on their career paths. Especially if they do not come from a strategy consulting background, in the first period they will struggle a lot more than an internal consultant of the same level who has develop a very specific mindset.

Considering your work experience, at this stage you would probably get in at a senior analyst position and then could get promoted to an associate level after 0.5/1 year.

I hope this helps,

Good luck,



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replied on Nov 15, 2017
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Hi Anonymous,

given your profile and goals, I would recommend to apply for a position in consulting now, and leave the MBA as a backup if your applications are not successful, for the following reasons:

  1. Although it could be slightly easier for you to get the interview after a top MBA, there are less slots for post MBA than pre MBA, thus not changing the finally likelihood of an offer substantially for a good candidate
  2. You would have to invest a relevant amount of money (€200k) and time (1-2 years), not counting the preparation time for the MBA
  3. MBA is not a compulsory step in MBB if you join now – some people just become senior business analyst/senior associates and move on the ladder in the next role after 1-2 years in such position
  4. If you join consulting now they will likely recognize 1 year of seniority anyway
  5. It’s safer to join as Analyst/Associate than as post MBA; expectations are lower and you could adapt more easily to the new environment
  6. In case you do want to do an MBA for other reasons as well, you could do that anyway and MBB could sponsor your MBA if you are a top performer

I agree with Jacopo that the main challenge would be to get the invitation, but I do not see issues on that given your profile so far that you manage to get a good referral. I would also keep options open and target ATK, RB, OW as well and equivalent consulting firms, as you could transit to MBB after some years there as well without having necessary to go for the MBA path.


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