I want to be a consultant. Please judge me.

Here is my story:

27 year old white male with a wife and three kids
First year Audit at Big 4
BYU accounting undergrad (3.5 GPA)
STEM Grades: Calc (B-), Stats (B-), Sciences: (A’s)
GMAT: 610 (25Q/49V)
EC’s: 2 year LDS mission, Fluent in 2 languages, Eagle Scout
First generation college graduate
Small market PE internship

I know I’m old and white and that my career isn’t flashy. My GPA is average, my STEMS are awful, and my GMAT is worse. I was a late starter and took forever in college due to a FT sales job that was paying well. After a course correction, I got my degree but rushed the GMAT (virtually no study) to apply for MAcc program that accepted me. I turned them down in order to position myself better for consulting after a year long FT/PT internship in Big 4 Audit. Weak EC’s except for a Mormon mission which I’ve heard is viewed reasonably favorably, and I’m basically the first college graduate of anyone I’ve ever been related to.

I plan to retake the GMAT (I don’t know if I will hit 80% since mathematics isn’t my strength but with a 49V I don’t think it would be hard to hit 700+. I’m looking for top 15 MBA with good consulting placement numbers like INSEAD, Northwestern, Duke, etc, but I wouldn’t say not to HWS or anyone in between. I’m looking to leverage my Big 4-ness into a Big 4 consulting (S&O), but would say yes to any top 15 consulting shop (Post-MBA).

What are my chances of getting into a top 15 MBA?
What are my chances of breaking into a top 15 consulting shop?

Be honest and constructive if you want, but at least take a minute to pass judgment.

 

I am not well versed in the opportunities for accountants, but I've heard bad things. I also don't see any interesting personal stories either (no offense, I am a pretty boring person to examine as well).

Two options in my opinion:

1) Have some solid, personal connections in a consulting firm. I assume you don't have this; otherwise, you would have mentioned it.

2) Rock the GMAT, get an admissions consultant, and hope to get into a top 15. You better shake the "I can't" attitude when it comes to the quantitative portion of the GMAT because it's your only chance.

Good luck.

 

Former Auditor turned S&O Consultant, so I think I can give you a decent perspective. On that end, it is possible (although quite difficult, depending on the firm and the practice) to transfer within the Big 4.

What kind of consulting do you want to do? There's plenty of consulting that you can get into without going back to B-school, which given your family situation, may be preferable. If not, while it's hard to get into M7 as an auditor, it is doable (maybe not H/S, but know a couple people who have gotten into W with a second job, and a few that have gotten into Booth/CBS/Tuck/Stern/Anderson without a second job).

Clearly, you will have to do much much better on the GMAT, but you seem like a smart dude (3.5 GPA with a full time job and a 49V). I think I got like a 30 on the quant before I studied, and ended up with a 48, so no reason why you can't get into the mid-40's and get yourself a 720+. You think you're a little boring ,but working full-time during college and stil getting good grades is impressive.

I would advise waiting two more years to apply (so your 29 when you apply and matriculate at 30). That's a little old, but not out of the sweetspot for school, and you will have had some time to actually lead at work (becoming an audit senior should be miserable, but it does give you an opportunity to lead a team quite quickly). While doing that, I woudl get invovled with something. It's often easier to do it through your firm, since that can make it much easier to leave work early or take some time out of your day to arrange an event. Plus, a lot of the leg work will already have been done for you (in terms of an established relationship), and you can simply take a leadership role in something.

Happy to give you more advice on the internal transfer, non-bschool based consulting (my current firm is about 1/3 MBA's at the upper levels), or anything else.

 

I appreciate this advice. I figured it would be difficult to switch to consulting within the firm, which is why I'm targeting MBA, but I'm open different paths.

I want to do strategy consulting. I know the grass isn't always greener, but in this case, I think it would be nice for the client to want you around. I know the type of work at first will be building models or doing research (both things I like to do and don't get to do as an auditor) but eventually I'd like to really think of ways to make companies more profitable, like M&A, pricing and market position strategies, etc. Endgame is hopefully internal strategy at a F500.

Great advice though. If I could be a senior in a transactions services group at my Big 4, would that significantly better than audit?

Also, what kinds of things should I get involved with? I was recruiting for Teach for America until I took the Big 4 job; would volunteering for them be useful? I heard somewhere that Harvard (and by extension I would expect M7) really like Teach for America.

 
Best Response

Good stuff. That helps. I'm applying to b-school right now to get onto the strategy side, so definitely understand where you're coming from. That being said, there's some decent ops. consulting stuff where your clients aren't trying to run away from you (and plenty of Strategy and Ops. where they desperately want to avoud you).

I think where you get complicated is this: a senior in the Transaction Services group would be a significant upgrade over your current job and experiences. However, if you move over to be the TS group, you'd have to stay for a little while. It'd be weird to apply to school having just moved into a new job, so you'd probably have to stay for at least a year before applying. Given your age, this could put you on the very old side for b-school (and to be an Associate at MBB). I really don't know what would be better - sacrificing a year or two of age to get the better gig on your resume, or applying from the current job. I lean towards moving into the TS role, as it would also make you more employable for consulting after school, and shows clear direction. The sooner you can do it, the better it sounds.

As for EC's, volunteering with TFA would probably be great, but make sure you literally run something. Either start a new volunteer program with TFA for your practice, or run fundraisers for it, or something. I did some work with Streetwise when I was at my big firm, that I have continued with today. Really enjoyed that - and led me to running a few events/sessions. It also does not have to be through your firm, can be anywhere (through your church, whatever).

What firm are you with? And where? (feel free to PM)

 

PM'd firm and location.

Even the TS group will be a challenge to break into I'm sure, but I might be able to leverage connections. If not TS, would a move to other advisory be possible, and if so, would it even help? I mean... I'm not looking for IT related consulting. It doesn't interest me and I doubt I'd be any good, and that seems to be the main advisory focus of the Big 4.

 

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