Should I take this offer in a startup?

Career start career tips consulting startup
New answer on Apr 30, 2020
9 Answers
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Ginevra asked on Apr 11, 2020

Dear community,

I am about to graduate from an MSc program at a top University in my country and I am required to do a curricular internship before graduation. My long term goal is to work in consulting, but I didn't apply for MBB yet because at the moment I don't have much time to spend on case preparation and I know that I am not ready.

I applied for different internships, both in consulting and in other fields and I recently received an offer from a very small startup that was created a year ago. Given that this would be my first real work experience and given the whole COVID situation (I am from North Italy): should I take it or should I wait for an offer from a bigger firm or a from a consultancy company?

I am quite excited about this opportunity, however I also have some doubts:

  • will this internship give me work experience that recruiters in the future will value?
  • the fact that this is not a big, well-known name will affect my CV negatively?

I would really appreciate any inputs or advice.

Stay safe!

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Luca
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replied on Apr 11, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello Ginevra,

Considering that your term goal is to work in consulting, I would try to follow the following prioritisation:

  1. MBB Internship: if you have at least one month to prepare your interviews, that's for sure the best option. I can imagine that you don't feel ready, but consider also that the bar for internship is lower.
  2. Tier-2 Internship: even if the brand recognition is lower, I can assure you that daily work in tier-2 companies like Oliver Wyman is substantially the same of MBB. An experience there would add value to your profile because you would be more ready then other fresh graduates to give your contribute. it would also strengthen and demonstrate your motivation, since you perfectly know what your work will be and you are still apllying for consulting
  3. High responsibility role in small startup: this experience is really valuable for consulting intervies if it shows your proactivity and entrepreneurial drive. This means that you have to be one of the co-founder or at least in a role with many responsibilities and decision-making power. This can happen joining a startup since the first years, experiencing how it is to start a business from scratch and being involved in different strategic decision.
  4. Big company: if you can not achieve of the previous solution, go for a company with a strong brand. You can also look for "graduate program" that can be a good start to build the soft skills needed as consultant.

Anyway don't worry too much about your choice, Ginevra. You are talking about an internship and it will not affect negatively your CV whatever will be your choice.

Scrivimi pure nel caso volessi discutere qualche punto più nel dettaglio,
Hope it helps,
Luca

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Anonymous replied on Apr 29, 2020

Dear Ginevra,

My congratulations to your offer! In general, I would say that having an internship experience is better than not to have it. In your case I would definitely recommend you to go for the offer with the startup because it also will bring you a unique opportunity to learn more. Nowadays, consulting company see the value from the startup experiences. So it could add value to your profile.

Hope it helps,

Best of luck,

André

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Emily
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replied on Apr 11, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi Ginevra,

I think it depends on what your role would be in this startup. If your role gives you a good exposure to strategy and business side of the company, it can be a good idea esp given the current macro and market situation. You can still get your hands on experiences that can be handy for consulting job later.

If the role is narrowly defined in a specific function e.g. Operations, marketing, then it might not be as helpful for your transition later to consulting. That said, since the startup is just a year, usually the roles in young startups are more fluid and you should be able to bargain for a scope that would work out better for you.

Good luck!

Best,

Emily

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Clara
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replied on Apr 11, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I would take it, given how the situation is.

However, its important to agree on a relevant role from the beggining -for instance, reporting to someone you know will be a role model and well positioned in the org-.

Furthermore, think of the network this would provide. Any of the memebers are ex consultants? This always helps

Best of luck!

Cheers,

Clara

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Francesco
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replied on Apr 12, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Ginevra,

I agree with Luca that, if available, an internship in consulting would help more than an internship in a startup.

Having said that, if the startup offers a strategy role or anyway variability in roles that require problem solving, it could also be a good opportunity as an internship. After BCG I founded my own company in Italy and hired few interns to do different kind of works. Many of them ended in consulting after the internship (eg Bain and RB).

I would check the following things on the startup as due-diligence:

  • Founding rounds
  • Background of founders (any experience in consulting would be a plus as would open to networking as Clara mentioned)
  • Variability of your role and possibility to apply problem solving skills

Finally, the answer depends also on your “opportunity cost” in terms of alternatives. Since you are in the process with other firms, you could let them know you received an offer and ask if it is possible to accelerate the process to those you consider more valid for consulting (eg Tier 2 companies).

In terms of MBB, I would not recommend to apply now unless you can find internal contacts that can offer a referral and advise whether there are still internship slots available, so that you don’t "waste" your application and risk a ban if that’s not the case.

Best,

Francesco

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Iman
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replied on Apr 12, 2020
BCG | Strategy& |Roland Berger | Interviewed >100 candidates in formal hiring process

Hi Ginevra, firs of all an intership will not affect you CV negatively, the questions is how much postive the internship can add to your CV. To ensure maximum impact on your CV you must demonstrate strong achievement that resulted in strong endorsement from your boss, which can be done by proactively asking for bigger responsibility / project everytime you managed to acomplish a task. Try to also prepare for case interview while in the intership (3-7 cases a week) and applying the structured thinking in your day-to-day job in the startup.

Consulting internship is still the best way to go in but it is NOT the only way. Consulting always hungry for top talent from various background as long as they can pass the case interview.

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Thomas
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replied on Apr 11, 2020
150+ interviews | 5+ years experience | Kearney & Accenture | Sold consulting startup| London Business School

Hi Ginevra,

I think Emily provided an excellent answer, but I do want to add some food for thought:

  • Apart from understanding your role in this start-up, it is absolutely critical that you believe in the business model and have some insights into how sustainable their business is (especially now). The fact of the matter is that consultants will look at the companies you have worked for and even a strategy role at a small firm would most likely not be considered to be extremely valuable. This changes if the start-up has been through massive growth, but you need to be sure that it has that potential.
  • There are a few natural points to join consulting which is after your undergrad studies (or graduate studies in a nonbusiness field) and after an MBA. It is very difficult to join with ±2-3 years of work experience and no MBA. There are some outliers of course, but it is not a great group to be in.

Good luck with the decision!

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Marcello
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replied on Apr 12, 2020
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Hi!

I hope everythin is going well!

I would take it as it can provide you with valuable skills for a consulting career. Obviously, the more oriented to business and high resposability the position is, the more relevant it is going to be for your consulting application.

I any case, consulting is a way of life and a mindset, so any professional experience that cultivates on you a client focused, analytical and "winner" mindset is going to be valuable for consulting, even if it is not directly related.

Also, it is a good opportunity to try out something different.

Hope it helps!

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Antonello
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replied on Apr 30, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi Ginevra, if still in time happy to give you my perspective in the decision. Feel free to text me

Best,
Antonello

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Luca gave the best answer

Luca

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