Caltech-Am I screwed?

Hey so I'm a freshman at caltech. Before coming to this hell of an institution I wanted to be a chemical engineer, but now I want nothing to do with STEM. Upon exploring other career options, I stumbled on consulting and I really want to land a big 4 job post-grad. However, caltech is not really a target school. Not only that, it's almost impossible to do meaningful extracurricular work here given the insane course load, so I'll also have a pretty lame resume. How screwed am I? How can I improve my prospects?

Comments (13)

  • Senior Consultant in Consulting
Jan 19, 2022 - 5:25pm

You're a freshman at a top school, no you're not screwed from getting a B4 or better consulting offer

Look up "non-target recruiting" on this forum and others -- don't need on campus recruiting efforts to work somewhere (although it is immensely helpful)

Hopefully somebody who has a similar background can comment, but off the top of my head:

  1. Maintain good grades
  2. Typically I'd say find a way to do get a good extracurricular on your resume outside of science -- but I've seen STEM resumes do okay without them before. You need to look at past alums and see what their resumes looked like. If they don't have extracurriculars, you're probably fine
  3. Try and get a good professional experience after sophomore/junior year, you can find lots of former engineering interns at top consulting firms
  4. Search LinkedIn and connect with alumns. They'll be able to help you navigate what going from Caltech to consulting looks like
  • Senior Consultant in Consulting
Jan 19, 2022 - 11:10pm

Slow down -- reach out to alums first to see their experiences. Companies probably don't recruit from Caltech because (1) there are so few undergrads, and (2) most probably aren't interested in consulting. If you want to do it you'll be able to - consulting isn't a field where you need a particular field of study to get interviews, but coming from such a strong brand name college will open so many doors for you if you try

I agree that transferring is an option and you'll have a good story, but it seems like it's not the path of least resistance

Jan 21, 2022 - 2:14am
kigiya1594, what's your opinion? Comment below:

it looks like caltech is a target school for both BCG and Bain at the undergrad level. id bet mckinsey would also be open to interviewing you even if they dont recruit on campus. these are the firms you should be targeting as a student at a top undergrad. if you dont want to go through the hassle of transferring, focus on getting good grades and getting involved with any on campus consulting or professional services clubs, and youll be fine for junior internship recruiting. otherwise, transferring is probably your best bet

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Jan 21, 2022 - 9:21am

Caltech is a target for all the top firms, it's only that most students at Caltech don't seem that interested in finance and consulting. The school is small (5 mins walk to go from one end to another) with research focus, so it makes sense why the students are not that interested in traditional finance and consulting. Given the research focus though, you'll become really good with hypothesising and as long as you prepare the cases, I think you can easily target MBB with good odds. I go to a semi-target close to Caltech and my friend who didn't even know the answer to "Walk me through your resume" got offers at all the big 4 that he recruited with, so definitely suggest you to aim higher. If you want to target finance, let me know and I would be happy to help out as a Caltech student helped me break into IB.

  • Summer Associate in Consulting
Jan 22, 2022 - 4:05pm

You should easily be able to land Big 4 out of caltech so long as you maintain a decent GPA. If anything, MBB is a very real possibility for people at that school who are interested. You could also transfer to another T10 school that has a major that appeals to you more

Mar 12, 2022 - 11:56pm
Miracle1111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wow only on WSO can someone make Caltech sound like a mediocre school that no employer would want to be associated with. You're in Caltech, you will be fine as long as you keep a respectable GPA.

  • Summer Associate in Consulting
Mar 14, 2022 - 5:35pm

For what its worth, I worked with two people from CalTech this summer at my MBB firm. Just not that many people want to go into consulting from there I think.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Mar 15, 2022 - 5:45am

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