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Tier 3 consulting or startup experience?

consulting experience internship
New answer on Jun 07, 2024
10 Answers
187 Views
Anonymous A asked on May 20, 2024

Hi everyone!

I am close to graduating from a master's in management from a top UK university (LSE) and have an undergraduate from UCL. I was not able to get a full-time position at any big consulting firm (I had interviews but failed towards the end of the process), and so I am considering doing either an internship or work for some time before trying my luck again.

 

Currently, I am torn between two options: 1) an internship in for an early stage startup working on their strategy or 2) a graduate scheme at a niche consulting firm focusing on CDD and private equity.

 

I am more attracted to the second option in terms of salary, but I am not sure what would be the best considering my plans after.

 

Would love any help! Thanks

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Alberto
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
First 30min for free! Ex-McKinsey (4+yrs) | Wharton MBA (GMAT 750) | MBB business case preparation

Hi! I would say both options are good for you. However, assuming the brands of both companies is similar, the consulting job may be the best option for you, since you would directly gain consulting experience (and signal your commitment in learning how to be a consultant).

In order of importance, the factors I would consider are:

1. Relevance (i.e., avoid doing totally unrelated jobs) 

2. Best reputation. Associating your name with a strong brand can be very effective, even if the company is outside the consulting industry (e.g., doing strategy for J&J)

3. Job affinity. If both jobs are relevant, and brands are similar, I would go for the most similar job to your target one

I hope it helps!

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Ariadna
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School

Hi there and congrats on the two options you are considering! 

For the rest of my answer I will assume your long term goal has remained to eventually go into MBB (which should be totally doable!). If your question is broader, the answer might be different and more connected with longer term goals and aspirations. 
 

Now, (1) none of the options would close the door to MBB. 

But (2) you would be a safer bet for the recruiting team if you would have already done some consulting work. This would confirm your interest in the type of job, even develop some basic consulting skills, etc. 
 

Hope this is helpful, 

Ariadna 


 

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Sidi
Expert
replied on May 21, 2024
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi,


Congratulations on nearing the completion of your master's degree! Both options you have on the table offer valuable experiences, and choosing between them depends on your long-term career goals and what you prioritize in your early career stages. Here's some points to consider:
 

  1. Long-term goals: If your ultimate aim is to reapply to large consulting firms, the graduate scheme at the niche consulting firm provides specialized experience in private equity, which is highly valued in the consulting industry. This experience can make you a more competitive candidate in future applications.
  2. Skills development: Think about which role aligns better with the skills you want to develop. The graduate scheme offers structured training and specialized skills, while the startup internship provides a broad range of experiences and the chance to wear multiple hats.
  3. Network and mentorship: Consider where you are likely to receive better mentorship and networking opportunities. The consulting firm will likely have a more structured mentorship program and a network of professionals in the industry. The startup may offer less formal mentorship but could provide valuable connections in the entrepreneurial community.

Ultimately, do not forget that, when the time comes, it's wise to start preparing for your strategy consulting interviews well in advance to present the best version of yourself and, this time, finally bring your offer home. In the optimal scenario, you receive coaching from a seasoned former interviewer who deeply understands consulting (not just someone with a brief 1-3 year experience), and complement this with a HAND-PICKED set of determined, HIGH-QUALITY practice partners (e.g., other candidates that are applying to the same firms). 

 

Hope this helps.


Cheers, Sidi

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(🚀 Ex BCG & McKinsey Sr. Project Manager, now helping high potential individuals join the world's top Strategy Consulting firms (McKinsey | BCG | Bain))

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Anonymous on May 21, 2024

Thank you Sidi, that;s very helpful

(edited)

Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

it sounds like you tried to get into Tier 1 & 2 consulting firms but were not successful this time around. You are planning on trying it again in the future. This to me sounds like you are envisioning a career in consulting, at least in the midterm. You should therefore gain relevant consulting experience as soon as possible. Your option 2 will get you that.

“Internship at an early stage startup” sounds a bit fluffy to me. Especially since you will graduate with a master's degree, you should not be “interning around” anymore. It is time for a full-time position. So if the startup option doesn't give you that pathway, I personally would not take it.

Anyway, these are my two cents.

Best of luck

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Anonymous on May 21, 2024

Thanks a lot!

(edited)

Pedro
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

If your plan is to join consulting, then definitely the 2nd option is the best one. You get training on the real thing, and you can check if that is really what you want to do in the long run. 

I've worked with many Tier3 firms that are great.

Regarding startups… there's a lot of hype around them, but most of them are just unstructured and “not-yet-profitable” small businesses. Taking a role in one of them really depends on your take on the founding team and their business model.

 

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: I am more attracted to the second option in terms of salary, but I am not sure what would be the best considering my plans after.

If you want to do consulting later, the consulting option seems closer to your goal. If data is available, you might want to check on LinkedIn where the alumni of the consulting firm ended up after working there as a way to explore possible exits.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Agrim
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

My personal opinion is that in your position, the start-up experience might keep your profile much more open/suitable for future opportunities.

The niche consulting opportunity in CDD/PE will likely keep in in contention for consulting and/or PE roles in later years.

But a startup experience can also keep PM roles open for you, in case T1 consulting fails to materialize later on.

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 07, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the (assumed) offers!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

I would highly advise you to opt for the option that better aligns with your professional (and maybe even personal) mid- to long-term goals. In order to make an informed decision, I would advise you to do the following:

  • Weigh the different criteria that are meaningful to you independently of the current options (e.g., prestige, culture, compensation, location). After that, score the two options based on your criteria and their weighting, resulting in two scores. This way, you have covered the left-brain perspective.
  • Critically assess your initial reaction to the outcome of the scores. For instance, if you feel the urge to tweak the numbers, this is a solid indicator that you do not want this decision to become reality. This way, you have covered the right-brain perspective.
  • By doing so, you will be able to integrate both parts of the brain into the decision-making, guaranteeing a higher chance that you will still be happy with it years later.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Actually, both options sound great. 

I also lean towards the second one because it's connected to consulting in a more obvious way. You're literally joining a consulting firm, which means that if you want to transfer to MBBs, for instance, later, then it's more of a lateral transfer between firms. 

What matters is not only who the firms are and what your role is about, but the sort of experiences you are likely to have in the role - both in terms of learnings but also in what you can speak about in your CV regarding your impact. 

Best,
Cristian

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Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

I'd definitely go with the consulting experience as it is more aligned with the skills that benefit you later on in larger consulting firms and also with what consulting firms are looking for.

Regardless of going down the startup vs. boutique firm route, I would heavily advise against doing an internship after graduation. This would demonstrate a lack of options + no clear career perspective.

All the best,

Florian

 

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Anonymous on May 21, 2024

Thank you for the advice!

(edited)

Florian on May 21, 2024

My pleasure, all the best on your journey!

Alberto gave the best answer

Alberto

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