Choosing job offer - MBB vs. in-house

Interested in knowing whether you would go for (a) brand name and optionality or (b) industry interest (and pay) if you had to make this choice?

I have two entry-level FT offers in consulting. One from an MBB and one from an in-house consulting firm.

I figure most would go with MBB, but the in-house seems like more fun IMO. Below are the pros I see with the in-house but would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how much optionality I would lose and how you'd value this optionality.

  • High quality and is at a very large company (but not too well known outside the industry)

  • In the industry that I am currently most interested in (but I am a youngster - this could change)

  • Total comp is c. 10% higher than the MBB

  • Work hours are slightly better and stress levels are fair to assume lower with closer relations to the clients

I am quite open-minded regarding long-term ambitions, but my dream is to pursue entrepreneurship or work on the buy-side, with a current preference for the industry/adjacent industries that the in-house role is in.

Most grateful for any $ .02 on this!

Comments (11)

Most Helpful
Jun 16, 2022 - 10:27am
reformed, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My view is to go with MBB, and I don't think it's even close. 

MBB has a very established pipeline and on the job training. You learn the quickest by doing something yourself, but having someone directly above you who was in your shoes recently point out all of the nits/things you could have done better. MBB has proven track record of taking 1,000s of people, up a steep learning curve. 

Variety. Again, you'll learn quicker seeing how different companies operate vs. working with the same people project after project and the variety of projects you'll work on in MBB will be greater. 

Defined career path. If you work at one company, as you get more senior there are fewer and fewer spots, so you can be 100% capable but have a very low ceiling because the person above you won't leave. 

Companies also don't actually need a corporate strategy team. If you're in-house, all it takes is your group head leaving, a new CEO or a downturn for your role to turn into a pure project management or FP&A function (or removed completely).

Also, exits will better from MBB

  • 4
Jun 16, 2022 - 12:00pm
pajoad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot for your perspective! I was leaning toward in-house but will think about it once again now.

Good point on the pipeline and on-the-job training, that's a valuable recourse of the MBB.

On variety, however, it's a huge global company, and the consulting group works across all continents and verticals, so I don't think it would become repetitive. Also, I am not a huge fan of being staffed on some project in an industry I'm not interested in (and there are a few of those). The group has also existed for +10 years and seems to have a solid place, so guess that takes some risk off. 

  • Senior Consultant in Consulting
Jun 16, 2022 - 3:38pm

> Also, I am not a huge fan of being staffed on some project in an industry I'm not interested in (and there are a few of those)

Why are you hesitant to try new industries? Honestly some of my favorite projects were uninteresting industries but interesting project scopes. Also, after you establish yourself at a consulting firm you'll be able to steer direction in terms of project mix so I wouldn't be overly worried

> The group has also existed for +10 years and seems to have a solid place, so guess that takes some risk off

Have they survived a significant number of leadership changes as well? What the original commenter is saying is that these types of functions are often championed by one or two people in the c-suite, so if that person changes and somebody comes in who doesn't share the same perspective (or intracompany politics) then the function can be in trouble

  • Senior Consultant in Consulting
Jun 16, 2022 - 3:32pm

MBB confidently. MBB will open many diverse and competitive doors for your career, in-house consulting will probably not and will not even really be viewed as consulting when going to market for jobs. Honestly there are very few in-house consulting functions that are as or nearly as competitive or desirable as MBB, and none I'm aware of recruit entry level (they typically poach MBB or T2 consultants)

Re:pay, have you factored in performance bonuses or 3-5 year pay increase horizons? I'd be surprised if they could keep up with MBB since pay basically doubles after your first promotion

I don't think buyside will be feasible from in-house consulting. Those roles usually overindex on prestige

*My assumptions are based around US

Jun 16, 2022 - 5:01pm
pajoad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am counting on a difference in clout for exit opportunities, but my hope is that the industry specialization of the in-house group could compensate for the brand name in that particular vertical. The majority of the seniors are ex-MBB and the rest seem to have advanced in-house. Good point on the salary development, figured they should be competitive given the large portion of ex-MBB but for sure something I should ask about! 

Jun 17, 2022 - 4:41pm
pajoad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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