Should I exit to do an MBA, go back to industry, or stay?

exit options MBA MBB
New answer on Jun 24, 2022
10 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 19, 2022

Hi all!

I am currently at a post-MBA position in MBB in Europe, having joined last year as an experienced hire. The lifestyle doesn't seem sustainable for me, so I started thinking about my next steps in about 6 - 12 months' time.

My question would be what is best to do in terms of exit, considering that by that time I would have accrued  >7 years of total work experience, with 12<>24 months of it being in MBB, and the rest in a various Fortune 500 companies in operations/project/production management roles

The options I have in mind would be:

1. Exit to do an MBA at INSEAD/LBS/Said/Judge
     - doing this is on my mind since long ago, as I believe I would benefit from developing a broader business perspective, networking, and having a time to reflect, however as it would be self-funded, I am bit hesitant about the ROI at this stage

2. Exit to industry to work in strategy/operations/program-related positions
     - this option would allow me to transition to a better WLB without pay sacrifice, like in the MBA option, although would not give me a chance to either step back for reflection, or amend the career trajectory


3. Stay in MBB until at least 24 months' tenure, and then think what's next
     - many people on this, and other, forums mention the minimum 24 months' tenure. This would be the least preferred for me, as the lifestyle is taking a toll on my mental health, and at the same time I wonder how much the “24 months rule” apply to me, since the >5 years' pre-consulting experience

I've already been approached by various companies for their Product Management and Strategy & Operations roles, as well as by other consulting firms, which gave me an indication that maybe 12 - 18 months will be enough before I take the leap

Would be great to get your perspective on this, thank you!

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Jun 20, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Exit for MBA ⮕ Do you really need an MBA for what you want to do next? If not, I would skip it. It’s a big investment in time and money and you are already in a post-MBA role anyway. If you do need it of course it is a different story
  2. Exit to industry ⮕ Totally fine if you get an exit that you are confident with and not one “just to exit” because you are pressured. You don’t need necessarily to stay 24 months to get a great exit
  3. Stay in MBB ⮕ The big difference in terms of exit is if you reach a manager role. This may require a substantial amount of additional time depending on when you expect a promotion. If you have to wait years and you don’t feel the job is sustainable now, I would not stay just for that

The most important thing is that you understand what you really want to do next. The sooner, the better. 

If you manage to do that, you may be able to get straight to want you want (option 2), save the time and money of the MBA (option 1) and avoid to stay in a job that doesn’t feel right (option 3).

The best thing you can do to understand that is to network.

You can contact people working in companies /positions interesting for you (ideally Alumni) to ask questions. This has 2 advantages:

  1. You can learn how the job is from insiders
  2. You can find someone that may be able to refer you for the job

You can find a few tips on networking below:

▶ How to Network and Find Referrals

If you need more help please feel free to drop me a message.

Best,

Francesco

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Moritz
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replied on Jun 24, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

Technically it's impossible to tell since you haven't really stated any career objective or boundary condition. That being said, here's my thoughts around your 3 options:

1. Exit to do an MBA at INSEAD/LBS/Said/Judge: You will learn more working in MBB while getting paid. The people doing an MBA after working in MBB are typically funded, which is of course different. I had a few MBBs in my MBA cohort and they gained significantly less from the experience than others. → Don't really see the point, poor ROI

2. Exit to industry to work in strategy/operations/program-related positions: Seems like a good option if the right opportunity presents itself. As for your concerns - you can perfectly reflect while working and you can change paths at any point in time. The way you put it makes it seem as though you need time to contemplate a decision that is irreversible eternal in nature, which is really not the case.


3. Stay in MBB until at least 24 months' tenure, and then think what's next: Not sure about 24 months but you could make a case for being promoted to a certain position. At MBB, people generally try to make it to EM/PM level before leaving the firm with a higher market value. However, not sure if this is really feasible if you're already starting to burn out.

Hope this helps a bit - best of luck!

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Lucie
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updated an answer on Jun 22, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

i think it is hard to asses you as you may have very different criteria than any of us. In any way, you will have plenty of opportunities so it is good to clear what you want to choose well. 

on your questions I can give my view only:

1. Exit to do an MBA at INSEAD/LBS/Said/Judge → MBA is great for learning and opening new opportunities, however, having MBB experience very much offset expensive MBA. So if you want to go for MBA is for learning, network …. but wont give you probably the ROI you look for. 

2. Exit to industry to work in strategy/operations/program-related positions → Likely possible, but be aware that for strategy job firms usually looks for candidate with 5+ years of MBB experience. The job you can likely secure will be related to you previous experience, connections you have and how well you present yourself. I would strongly recommend leverage the career services of your consulting, they can help you orient and even find a job

3. Stay in MBB until at least 24 months' tenure, and then think what's next → this must be your decision, but if it is too much toll, I would think to leave… you are the brilliant mind that made it in and being among the 1-2% of candidates getting the offer, you will be fine finding job. 

I am professional and accredited coach by Int. coaching federation and your topic is quite common, if you would like to explore it, please feel free to reach out directly. 

Good luck,

Lucie

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(edited)

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Pedro
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replied on Jun 20, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

A few thoughts:

  • It doesn't need to be exactly 24 months. So a few months less will not impact how you are perceived. If you leave after 21 months, there's no real difference.
  • However, 6 monhts is not the same as 12 months nor the same as 18 months. 6 months is like an internship, 12 months means you learned the basics, 18 months you were able to pass one evaluation cycle and solidified what you learned as an analyst/consultant.
  • Some people are mentioning that becoming a Manager would make a significant difference. While they are correct, I advise against this, as this is the most physically challenging role, that to get there you need to WANT to get there, and moreover you would need to have some tenure (6 months) in that role as well. If you find it hard to be there 6-12 months, 24 months is probably out of question.
  • MBA doesn't make much sense from the financial point of view, as you already have a post-MBA role (you do, right?). So it would have to be for the other reasons - learning, networking, sabbatical, etc. Just remember that there are scholarships, so you may be able to reduce the financial impact.
  • There may be options that help you better cope with the lifestyle in your current situation. What is exactly disturbing you in the lifestyle? Is it the hours or the travel? Either changing teams, asking for no travel, taking some vacations in-between projects, even just asking for a short term sabbatical/extended vacation. 
  • Also understand that for some people the first six months are the toughest, as they can be very inneficient while still learning the first tools (how to do slides, how to prepare an excel analysis, how to write an email, how to structure an analysis…).
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Clara
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replied on Jun 21, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

All are amazing options. However, the key quesiton here is: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? IN THE SHORT AND IN THE MEDIUM TERM?

That is the key to take the right steps after. 

Furthermore, and regarding the MBA, it´s a huge time and money commitment, so you need to have a clear plan and value proposition about why doing it and where -the options you mention are nice, but INSEAD is clearly the winner, no doubts. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Cristian
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replied on Jun 20, 2022
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Hi there, 

Sorry to hear that you're struggling a bit with lifestyle. I totally understand it. 

Ideally you'd have 12-18 months of being in MBB before you move out. This will be sufficient to increase your value proposition and make you more attractive to employers, rather than having under 12 months. If you manage to bag a promotion during this time it would be ideal. 

Then I would indeed move into an industry role. The pay should still be close to MBB and lifestyle will be a lot better. Take your time with picking the right role, especially since you're probably getting a lot of offers at the moment from companies. 

One alternative to consider is moving into an internal role within your firm. For instance, you could move into a research-related role or anything else that might interest you. These are great opportunities because you get all the perks of being in such a big firm, while at the same improving your overall lifestyle. 

Best,

Cristian

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Adi
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replied on Jun 19, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey,

If you are really feeling jaded and your mental health is a taking a hit, get out ASAP if you can! Don't go by any rules and what others say. Its your life and you know it best. Too often we continue to do things driven by external factors & pressures and ignore our own priorities. Its just not worth it in the long run.

I am in no position to make decisions for you from the 3 options, but whatever you pick needs to be something that will bring you joy. It must be worth your time & effort and should put you in a better place from where you are now. 

Check out this article for some more tips: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-do-i-know-which-career-is-right-for-me

All the best!

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Udayan
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replied on Jun 19, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

If you want to leave MBB and take advantage of your time there, try and get the engagement manager title. Regardless of which option you choose, having that will make a big difference in perception, salary and roles that you will be recruited for (title, salary, position etc.)

 

Udayan

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Kurt
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replied on Jun 20, 2022
Conducted over 100 interviews for grads, interns & experienced hires

Hi - great question and it sounds like you have already put alot of thought into it.

It will be impossible for anyone here to tell you what the ‘right’ answer is and it will really come down to you assessing what is the best fit for you.

One idea to consider is rather than leaving MBB immediately, taking a 3-6 months sabbatical to give you the time and space to think about what you really want to do and to potentially test some ideas before making the decision permanent.

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Ian
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replied on Jun 20, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

This is a massive life decision that has major ramifications and affects your career trajectory.

Do you pay someone $300 to do your taxes each year so that you don't get in trouble with the law?

Consider hiring a case/career coach to help you with this question. It's just too hard to tell you what to do here without asking about 10 follow-up questions and discussing live with you…I'm sorry! For the price of a ⅓ day's work you can probably get the guidance you need.

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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