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What are the odds I can make a successful pivot into MBB consulting?

Application Bain & Company BCG graduate program MBB McKinsey recruiting strategy consulting
New answer on Apr 23, 2024
5 Answers
187 Views
Anonymous A asked on Apr 22, 2024

Hi everyone! I've been at my first job for six months after an MSc, and am considering a hard pivot into strategy consulting. For starters, here's basically what I have to work with:

• Bachelor's 1st Class Degree from Oxford in Biology  (graduated 2022)
• Master's 2:1 from UCL in a non-business subject (graduated 2023)
• 6 months working in product as a Product Designer 

Having spoken to some friends in the industry/research online, it does seem that at least for some firms such as BCG, I would be able to apply through the typical full-time Associate route, which - if I'm not mistaken - open around September every year.

This gives me about four or five months from now to prep for an application - seeing how I can position myself, networking with people, perhaps gaining some more concrete experience (though unlikely as I'm in a full-time job), increasing my business knowledge etc. 

Hopefully the scope of this question is not too broad, but I think what I'm wondering is - how feasible even is this plan? I would hope to be aiming high, so will try MBB, but of course will be applying to dozens of others in Big 4, Tier 2, other boutiques…

And secondly, if this plan does seem possible - what are the most immediate actions I can take right now which should be my highest priority? 

Thank you so much for anyone's help! :)

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Best answer
Kevin
Expert
replied on Apr 23, 2024
McKinsey | PhD in Biostats

Hi there,

It sounds like you're approaching this pivot with a great deal of thought and strategic planning, which is exactly the right way.

You're right — at least for McKinsey, you will likely apply as a full-time Business Analyst, given that you recently graduated from your MSc program. Depending on your location, the application could open in summer or early fall, typically between June and September in North America. So, rest assured that you still have a few months to prepare for it.

Here are some immediate actions to consider as priorities:

1. Case Prep: This should be your top priority if you've never done a case before. These are critical for consulting interviews and require specific techniques and strategic thinking that are quite distinct from typical job interviews. You will likely need some time and practice to get really good at it.

2. Networking: Connect with alumni from your universities who work in consulting, especially within MBB firms. Informal chats can give you insider insights and help you understand the day-to-day of an MBB consultant. It is a demanding position in which you will need to make certain sacrifices. You should thoroughly assess whether this is the right career path for you. Entering with your eyes wide open is probably the best way to prevent buyer's remorse later.

3. Tailor your resume and bridge any gaps: Benchmark your resume against the qualifications that MBB firms are seeking. For example, McKinsey provides a list of 6 qualifications that each candidate is evaluated against (link to McKinsey website). Make sure your resume screams these qualifications. And if it doesn't, now is the chance to bridge the gap by selectively gaining the right experience (think: if you haven't been in a leadership position that you can showcase on your resume, you might want to actively look for opportunities at work to lead projects and teams).

I hope this helps, and best of luck!

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 22, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Great profile! And I love your practical approach. 

Basically, you can use this as a breakdown of how you can put an application strategy together:

Then, for getting referrals and networking more generally, I'd leverage these as a starting point:

The one thing that I cannot tell about your profile is whether you have any sort of consulting internships or any sort of consultant-like work that you did in the past (or proof of you having done anything even remotely related to consulting organisations during university). 

Not having any of these would make passing screening harder especially because the market is rather tough at the moment. It also means that you then need to make sure that all the other things, such as a CV, CL and referral are top notch. 

Now, as a next step, what I would do if I were you is to get clarity over what firms I would be interested in applying to, and then reach out to the recruiters to find out when the deadlines are and what is the sort they would recommend for you.

If you need more help with any of the points above, reach out. 

Best,

Cristian

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 23, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) How feasible even is this plan? Of course will be applying to dozens of others in Big 4, Tier 2, other boutiques…

For a proper assessment we would need to see the full profile, but based on what you shared, given the flexibility to consider also Tier 2 and boutiques, the transition should be feasible.

2) What are the most immediate actions I can take right now which should be my highest priority? 

In terms of general prep tips, I would recommend the following:

  1. Identify the companies interesting to you. You can create a DB with all the companies you want to target so that you can look for a referral later for them (see point #7).
  2. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have before your expected interview and allocate the time slots for preparation in your calendar, working on the points below. Many candidates need 100+ hours to be ready before a consulting interview starting from zero so you can keep that as a benchmark.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Casebooks – you can find several for free online (INSEAD is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insights. Try to read a new case per day – in this way you will absorb better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/casebooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only.
  5. Keep track of your mistakes and see which ones you are repeating. This is extremely important, as otherwise you may do a ton of cases without fixing the real issues. If you find common mistakes, try to identify the reason for them (feedback from experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioral part and the case part during the mocks. The case part should also cover market sizing, math and graph analysis.
  6. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a strategy role.
  7. At least 3 weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals. You can find some tips here.
  8. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer  – a great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression. Ideally, try to find out who they are and study their profile to have good questions to ask.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you want to spend a few hours only instead of 100+ and cover everything mentioned above, I developed a program precisely for that. 

You can check the program at the following link to learn more:

▶ GYM Program

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Apr 22, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Your understanding of the market and your plan of action seems realistic. 

At this point I would start getting acquainted with the “job description” (i.e. what do consultants really do) in preparation for networking, and would start doing some preparation for case interviews (there earlier you know where you are, the better).

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Alberto
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 23, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Your profile looks good to break into consulting. 

Consider more firms apart from MBB to diversify risks. A consulting internship before applying to MBB would help during screening.

Apart from that, start the regular preparation process: do cases, practice with peers, get a coach if you can afford it.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Kevin gave the best answer

Kevin

McKinsey | PhD in Biostats
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