That’s an interesting question. Since it is not clear whether you are referring to consulting work experience or not, I would assume you have three options:
Option 1: Go for a Master and then consulting (and potentially an MBA later)
Option 2: Go for a consulting work experience and then do an MBA and continue consulting
Option 3: Go for a non-consulting work experience and then do an MBA to join consulting
I would consider four variables to take a decision, in order of importance:
- What would you enjoy most right now between studying or going to work
- Degree of interest in consulting
- Possible limitations of a choice on future opportunities in consulting
- MBA cost coverage
Let's see them in details.
Step 1: Studying vs working
If you have clear what you would like to do more between studying or working for a specific company, I would go of course for the option representing that. If you are neutral I would move to Step 2
Step 2: Degree of interest in consulting
If you are 100% sure about consulting, I would take Option 2 – there are no real reason to delay you career in consulting and spending money and time in a Master or doing an unrelated job; if you are still unsure whether consulting is the right thing for you, you may consider doing an internship to understand it. If that’s not an option, you may consider Option 1, 2 or 3, taking into account the following steps.
Step 3: Limitations for future career in consulting
Option 1 does not give you any limitation (you may still do an MBA if you want and if you don't want so your internal career may be similar substituting the MBA with 1 or 2 years in the firm) neither of course Option 2. Option 3 though makes more difficult for you to join a consulting firm, as there are less openings for post MBAs compared to new graduates, and only for top selected MBAs.
Step 4: MBA cost
Here Options 1 and 2 are the winners as well. For top performers, indeed, a firm may pay for your MBA. That’s far more difficult in Option 3, and if that happens, the non-consulting firm will ask you to stay with the firm for some time after the MBA, making more difficult your transition to consulting.
As for your question on MBAs and careers:
- An MBA would usually allow you to join a company at a position equivalent to someone without an MBA and more years of experience, so yes, it has value
- If you are already in the firm and decide not to go for one, as mentioned, you may subsitute that with one or two years in the firm and have the same career progression. However, everything equal, as mentioned by Guennael, the MBA may allow you to have more options for career path and promotions compared to one or two additional years in the firm in case of career change, and for sure a broader network to benefit from.