While I believe I have a pretty good set of answers for the "why consulting?" questoins, sometimes I have a lot of trouble finding truly important differentiators between the MBB and Big 4 firms.
They all have high impact clients. They all work across many industries, globally. They all will keep you busy but have various programmes to keep your work/life balance in mind. They all value your development. There are talented people at all of them.
I feel like my mind goes to stereotypes about these companies, perhaps more than it really should. What comes to mind:
McKinsey - best of the best, largest and most resourceful of MBB, does things their own way.
Bain - "work hard play hard" culture, more of a quantitative and greater PE focus. More local, helping with the comraderie and "play hard" aspect.
BCG - intellectually curious, asks the big questions. My brain also says they're closer to McKinsey in terms of culture than Bain, but this is truly anecdotal.
AT Kearney - similar size/scope as MBB with less pretense. More operational, hands-on, ipmlementation focused.
Long story short I'd like more specifics... names of differentiating internal programs, acronyms for internal thought processes and problem solving approaches, things that make each different that don't let me boil it down to superficial stereotypes.
I have a call with a BCG partner this week, and a Bain recruiter next week. I'd really love some more insght from people who have gone through the recruiting process and given (what they they thought were) good answers, as well as former Bain/BCG/etc consultants.