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Transition from Software Engineer to MBB/Tier-2

Anonymous A asked on Feb 14, 2019

Hi, I am a Software Engineer with 2.5 years experience working at a mid-size product company. I've always been interested in management consulting, but thought it'd be safe to enter the industry as a Software Engineer after my Master's degree in Computer Engineering (from a non-target top-45 school in the US with a 3.74 GPA, decent extra-curriculars and a couple internships, one of which was as a tech consultant for a couple start-ups). Following are the possible scenarios in my case, and I'd love to get your insights-

1. Do I stand a chance to get an interview at MBB/Tier-2 firms as an entry level Consultant? (I'm willing to drop a couple years of my experience if it means I get to work in MBB/Tier-2)

2. Also, I'd love to be on the strategic/business side of consulting and not on the tech side since I believe I want to explore those areas. (I've been preparing for case-interviews since a while now and feel pretty confident about them). Is an MBA my only option to get on the strategic/business side of things?

a. If an MBA is necessary, I'd like to continue working as a Software Engineer for a steady income flow and enroll in a part-time MBA. Will the part-time MBA help me with my goal of breaking into strategic/management consulting?

3. If I don't get a chance to enter MBB/Tier-2 without the part-time MBA while I'm a Software Engineer (current situation), and end up joining a boutique consulting firm for a year or 2, will it help me to transition to the big players? Or is a part-time MBA still suggested after a year or 2 at the boutique?

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Guennael
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replied on Feb 14, 2019
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Cursory glance, you aren't currently in the mix for MBB: non-target school, good GPA but not sure how good that really is in said school; work in a mid-size company (so neither huge brand nor startup); no real leadership experience (unless you just haven't told us)...

Best bet is probably to go back to a target school for a Master's program; it does NOT have to be an MBA. No matter what you do, MBB / Tier 2 would likely make you start from the bottom, "2.5 years of experience" is nothing as far as they are concerned.

As to where you'd land, this is a tougher question, and will probably change by company. I get your desire to not do IT/Tech work necessarily, I was in your shoes too and once said no to a Tier2 because they only offered me IT consultancy, vs. Strat consulting. At the same time, a case can also be made that getting into the company is the most important.

Boutique is always an option, but they type of role may differ (more technical, less varied). Regardless, a master's degree will usually make it easier: where there are senior partners at MBB who only have an undergrad, they are largely the exception that confirm the rule