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When do you do an MBA?

Anonymous A asked on Oct 08, 2018

Hi all,

I am starting as an associate consultant in the coming month and I was wondering wat the usual career progression is? So at what points can I do an externship/MBA/leave of absence?

Thanks so much!

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replied on Oct 08, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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Generally, you can do an MBA/externship after 2 years. However, at least at Bain, there is no deadline - I know Managers (who had been at the firm 5 years) who went to do an MBA.

LOAs are slightly different, as you can take multiple - I know of some managers who take a 1 month LOA pretty much every year. Rules will depend by firm, and also are potentially negotiable.

Note that, if when you leave for your MBA, you haven't been promoted to the "post-MBA position" yet (i.e. Associate at McK, Consultant at Bain/BCG), when you rejoin the firm you will re-enter at the post-MBA position.

I would also stress that specific rules can vary from office to office - so best to check with someone from your local office - usually you will be assigned a "buddy" (someone around your level) and a mentor/career advisor (someone more senior), so you can check this with either one of them once you start.

Congrats and well done!

Benjamin replied on Oct 08, 2018
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If you want to do LOA for MBA, it's beter to do it before manager grade.
For a leave of absence related to other reasons (personal project, travel, ...) you basically can do it when you want in your progression, but minimum 1 year after joined..


Guennael replied on Oct 08, 2018
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Agree with answers re. MBA (usually after 2 years, sometimes 3, rarely more) and LOA. If you got promoted before you leave, the amount of time you worked at the new grade will be counted towards the minimum time after you come back. For example, you are promoted to Consultant and do 1 year before MBA, you just have 1 more year as a consultant to do before you can get promoted to PL after your MBA.

As for externship (and office loan)... these are typically available after at least a year in the company, and usually reserved to the best people. Someone must be last in his class by definition, that someone may not have these same opportunities. And while I'm at it - the externships often come at a financial cost to you since the firm will not pay your full salary. A friend of mine spend 12 months in an NGA in Africa, at 2/3 of his salary. Obviously, the experience and memories were second-to-none so the financial aspect wasn't all that important in the grand scheme of things.

Vlad replied on Oct 08, 2018
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  • MBA - after a couple of years with a company, when you have to be promoted from the analyst level to the next one. However, in many cases, you can get a direct promotion even without MBA
  • Externship - companies, and offices have different rules so you should check locally
  • LOA - any time. However, I would not do that in the first 1.5 years