Received offers from all three MBB firms and don't know what to do

Hey guys! Recently, I found out that I received 2023 internship offers from all three MBB firms, and I couldn't be happier. This recruitment process has been great, and all of my interviews went smoothly and I felt confident about the result following each one. I participated in diversity programs for a few of them, so the timeline of my recruitment was a bit different. The past few months have been extremely stressful yet rewarding, and although I go to a target school, I am a FGLI student and it feels as if all of the hard work in my life is finally coming to fruition.

The fruits of my labor are showing, and I am extremely proud of myself. That being said, I now have a very big decision to make. All three of my offers are for the same location (I have not gotten specifics for Bain yet, but I'm 90% sure), so that is not a factor in my decision. I am also wary of the recent comp increase for undergraduate hires (I believe 112k for Bain & McK, and 110k for BCG), but this is also not factoring into my decision (also, I find it funny and kinda petty that Bain & McK really one-upped BCG like that following their initial comp increase). Here are my thoughts on each of them:

Bain: 

At the beginning of the recruitment process, I got the sense that this was probably the best cultural fit for me. Objectively, my experience has been extremely positive here, and I have essentially liked everyone that I've met so far. The minority affinity group that I would be apart of as well is also particularly strong at the office I would be joining, and my experience with them has made me realize how important it is to have a strong network of people that look like you and want to support you. I am also aware of how strong their private equity practice is, however I am definitely not a PE junkie and don't know if I'd particularly want to exit into PE after consulting. Sometimes I wish I was more into PE so that this decision would be easier for me, but I just don't care about it as much so this is a nice benefit, but not a game changer by any means. However, I just get the feeling that if I chose Bain, I would have the most regret or FOMO out of my three options. 

BCG: 

This was the first offer I received, and for the last couple of months I've definitely developed a preference for them. Everyone I've talked to has really made me feel wanted, and before the other offers, I was really content with potentially ending up here. However, there was a recent instance in which I met a few people at the office I received an offer from that I just really didn't vibe with, and this was the first time in which things just felt awkward. All of my other experiences have been positive ones though, and although I was initially thrown off by this instance, I have since chilled out on it and am not going to overblow this at all, but it did make me take a step back. I also feel as if I just know a lot more about the firm compared to the others just due to the sheer number of interactions I was able to have.

McKinsey: 

This one is interesting. I recruited for this one normally, so I have not had as many interactions with people from the firm compared to the other two. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that this gives McK more unknowns to me. After receiving the offer, I will fully take the opportunity to talk to as many people as I can to get a sense of culture and vibes. Throughout recruitment, despite my preferences, I always had this lurking thought in the back of my mind that if I received a McKinsey offer, was I going to look at it and say no to it? I am trying to set perceived prestige aside, but there's no denying that I haven't thought about that and the stereotypes surrounding it that are so prevalent in these circles in college.

Even though I am bound to make friends in any of these places, I am worried about the stereotypes about the McK culture being more cutthroat, more formal, more competitive, and less fun than the other two, which is why I want to do as much due diligence as I can to talk to people before making a decision. Also, one other thing that I'm thinking about is that if I like it enough, I may want to stay in consulting longer-term, and for some reason doing that at McK just feels harder and maybe even less likely to me compared to the other two.

Throughout my life, when it comes to choices, I feel like I've quite often made the head over heart decision and taken the best possible option for myself (at least on paper), and this time around, I was honestly thinking I could finally make the heart decision. However, since I have always made the decision to do the best possible for myself, the other part of me is thinking why would I stop now? I have truly worked so hard to be in this position and decided to continue to interview even after I received a great offer, and so would me doing all of this be in vain if I didn't choose this? I am also intrigued by the challenge of it all, and feel that maybe I should go this route to at least give myself the satisfaction of saying that I tried, and to signal to myself and others that I am fully capable and deserving to do this, and maybe even flex a bit.

Overall, I think I'm leaning BCG or McKinsey, and I just feel like I would have the most amount of regret if I chose Bain. Among these two though, it's tough. Like I said before, I can see myself staying long term at BCG more than I could at McKinsey, but I am drawn to the challenge and potentially greater opportunities (which may honestly be a ~1% difference, if even that) that McK provides. Even taking prestige out of the equation, McK undoubtedly has the largest network being the oldest of the three, and since I have no idea at all what industry I would potentially be interested in, this larger network would just generally be helpful if I did want to exit.

My ultimate goal in my career however is to own my own business, so I guess I would prefer to go to the best place that helps foster that. In general, I want to go to the best place that maximizes and leaves all of these doors open (staying, exiting, starting my own business) the longest. One thing that I realized as well is that this is still just an internship, and so there's no guarantee that I would have to re-sign for full-time at the place I choose.

What I'm thinking of right now is potentially interning at McK to at least give myself peace of mind that I tried it and challenged myself, and then evaluating everything afterward to see if this is really somewhere I would want to work full-time. I was at first thinking that there was no shot I'd re-recruit next year if I got one of these offers, but I'm honestly prepared to do so if absolutely necessary if I truly don't think I'm in the right place. The process for me was so smooth and I'm extremely confident in my behavioral and casing abilities, so I truly think I could do it again if I really wanted to. The only thing is that I have certainly made connections at BCG, and I would just feel bad for not accepting them. However, I ultimately know that I have to make the right decision for myself at the end of the day. 

Sorry for writing so much, but I think this did me some good to be able to vent. This is certainly a great problem to have and I am so blessed to be in this situation. I want to open this up to you guys though. What do you think I should do? Are there really any differences in the exit opportunities between these firms, and is there a difference to how sustainable or possible it is to rise up the ranks at these places? Is one place better for someone considering entrepreneurship? Are the stereotypes regarding culture valid at all, i.e. McK being a cutthroat, more formal place where you can't have fun?

Finally, is my thought to do my internship at McKinsey and seeing how I feel about it a reasonable one, and how common/possible is it for people to make that internship to full-time lateral MBB transition? Open to ideas from anyone, especially those who were in a similar situation, have experiences with multiple of these firms/potentially transitioned between two of them, and those who rose up the ranks and stayed longer-term in consulting at one of these places. Please let me know what you guys think, and thanks in advance. For now, I'll celebrate!

Comments (61)

  • Prospect in Consulting
3mo

With connections you can always make more and change it up during your time at the firm.

I'd ask, what type of staffing model do you prefer? Do you want more location flexibility or do you prefer working more with folks in the same office or region?

3mo
ray226, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For this, I don't really know. I think in general I would prefer a closer home model, however I am not opposed to travel and potentially greater project opportunities that the McK or BCG staffing models might offer. If I ever get tired of travel, my understanding is that I would have the liberty to pick cases based in my city in which I wouldn't have to travel as much, and since I'm young with less responsibilities the travel part isn't too much of a problem for me. My only concern is how this impacts office culture. By that, is it uncommon for ppl in McK or BCG to work with ppl in their home office and is the culture diluted as a result since everyone is traveling more than they would at say Bain?

  • Prospect in Consulting
3mo

Understandable, good points, on the dilution though I don't think the culture is as diluted as  you may think. McK fridays are all the rave from what I've been told by consultants and interns. Also since travel is M-Thu with work being intense there's not much room for outside team work I assume

Sounds like it may be more common to work with the same folks on multiple cases at more local staffing models though

Also, congrats!! Regardless of where you choose you'll do great especially with how thoughtful you are :) awesome work paid off!! Celebrate!!

2mo
generic_consultant23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In terms of staffing models, there is a very large difference between Bain and Mck/BCG.

Bain's local model means that your working team (from senior manager down) is always from your home office - they're people you see every day and you'll likely work with them more than once over time. It fosters strong bonds and familiarity with your team. For Mck / BCG (more so for McK), teams are pulled together with folks from a range of offices (usually within North America) and you're unlikely to work with them again.

The pro on the Mck / BCG model is that you will likely have a bit more optionality in terms of cases - for Bain, the case mix that partners in your home office sell is correlated strongly with what your case mix will be in your tenure. Doesn't make a difference for larger Bain offices that have partners across the spectrum, but can make a difference for smaller offices.

The other difference on staffing is that Mck / BCG are much more networking-based. Yes, there is technically a staffing manager to help put you on projects, but it's actually important to network and try to "win" your way onto projects. At Bain, networking makes zero difference - the central staffing manager for your office (who is an ex-consultant) is responsible for hearing your interests and putting you on a case that works for all sides. This reduces upside (i.e., at Mck / BCG, it's possible to network your way onto your dream teams) but also limits your downside (much easier to get lost in the shuffle at Mck / BCG if you can't build a network effectively).

  • Analyst 2 in Consulting
3mo

Congrats on the offers!

I'd go with BCG.

I haven't heard great things about MCK culture. This will vary a lot by office and group, so it's not something you can really predict beforehand, but anecdotally it seems that you are more likely to encounter aggressive personalities at MCK.

Also, I feel like MCK's reputation for questionable ethics during engagements has reached new levels. Probably the most 'evil' corporation in the eyes of the media the past couple of years. I feel like most people on WSO would tell you not to factor that in, and if MCK was your only MBB offer I would say you should take it. But I don't see why you would want to work for a place that will cause some to reflexively associate you with unethical / greedy corporate behavior, when you can work for another company (BCG or Bain) that has the same positives in terms of reputation and experience while carrying much less stigma. 

3mo
anonymous_-, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is the same as saying "don't work for Goldman Sachs" because it's the pinnacle of greedy capitalism and went through huge scandals. The work you do at all 3 firms is going to be similar - one firm isn't actually going to necessarily be more ethical than the other. The other points you've brought up should be considered when weighing offers since they actually impact the work you do on a daily basis - but I personally would not include reputation, defined as appearances in the news, as a major part of the calculus. You should still be aware of the firm's standing as someone working in the industry.

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
2mo

You must work at BCG, as this is the only argument they ever have to pick them. These complaints about McKinsey are so overblown and forgotten, as shown by the vast majority of responses in this thread saying to pick McKinsey. 

3mo
FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, congratulations! Getting offers from all three firms is a feat. in itself! 

With regards to where to go, that really depends on you; my advice is to ignore the noise and go with where you feel you fit best all around (cultural, interest in work/role, etc.). You can always jump between MBBs later on and it's not as if your connections will outright disappear if you choose one firm over the other. 

I'd say you're thinking too far into the future. Long-term viability is like planning a flight that will never take off, you never know what will happen. No one predicted the world would come to a halt in 2020 due to COVID, no one predicted any number of factors that lead them to differing career paths across their ~5-10 years.

All this to say: don't complicate the simple. Any of these firms is great to be at, choose the one you fit best with and call it a day. 

3mo
ray226, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's not really something I can explain, just an odd feeling that I have. In terms of relationships I feel like I've developed equivalent, if not more personal ones at BCG (which could honestly just be due to me engaging in their process first). If they're at the very least equal in that aspect, I have a harder time seeing myself choosing Bain if it were just down to those two. 

2mo
DrApeman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with the other commenter, your sentence is confusing in its formulation.

As for BCG vs Bain vs McK, the differences will be marginal (but definitely noticeable) and more culture and approach driven. I honestly don't think you can go wrong with any of them. At this point just go with your gut feeling about who you liked the most, since you'll have to be around those people (or people very similar to them) for 50-60h a week, every week, for several years.

If you got along with the BCG folks the best, then head there. It's a no brainer in my opinion, and the exact way (+ 1 or 2 more reasons) I decided for where to go for my MBB recruitment.

  • Associate Consultant in Consulting
3mo

Take McKinsey. You can't feel regret if you go with the best. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
2mo

In my experience, you can't accurately predict which culture you like the best just based on a few short phone calls with random people in the firm. You could easily go there and still not like the people and this is also an internship - can easily go elsewhere full time.

2mo
leltec, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have to re-recruit if you want to go somewhere else full time. 

I think you absolutely can get a sense of how you'll like the people and culture from your interviews, calls, dinners etc. It just won't be perfect. Still probably the best and most personal data point you can gather from the process. 

Most Helpful
  • Intern in Consulting
3mo

I see a lot of worries that I had similar to you when I was going into McKinsey, but my perspective is as someone that only got a McKinsey internship offer and nothing else, so take that with a grain of salt - I don't know what the day-to-day looks like at other firms and I probably never will as I decided to not re-recruit for full time cycles. As always also, my n = 1 and like you said you're in an absolutely incredible position - there's no objectively wrong choice and it depends on what you're solving for.

In terms of a cultural issue, I thought that everyone I worked with at McKinsey was very committed to your success and was "on the same team" so to speak. I was also deeply worried about the work feeling cutthroat or unsustainable when I first started, but I found out that even the work is obviously a lot (you don't go into consulting for the lifestyle), the people made it a lot of fun and the team events were a blast. Like with any large firm, you'll find people who are bad and who are good, but as long as you make true connections, I firmly believe that you will find incredibly warm, welcoming people from all across the spectrum of personalities and backgrounds at McKinsey. 

Now lets get into some of the reasons I think actually matter and would potentially go into your considerations. Again, this is from my perspective and also contains a bit of secondhand information and observations as well - take them or leave them and if you do take them, do so with a heaping boxful of salt:

Travel: When McKinsey says 'global' staffing, they don't always meaning 'global' staffing for everyone. From a logistical standpoint it just doesn't always make sense - it's simply a lot easier to staff a Japanese BA for a study in Tokyo as opposed to flying someone across the pacific every other week to get the work done. If you're high performing or apply for programs like 6MA (6 months abroad) there are opportunities for you to drive the staffing in certain directions, provided you have sufficient backing. However, there are functional differences still when it comes to level and breadth of travel. McKinsey NA considers the continent broadly to be 'one office,' meaning it's very easy to get yourself staffed far and wide, coast to coast. I had co-interns who were flying cross country every week, while I stayed slightly more local with just one cross-coast flight. BCG as far as I can tell staffs more regionally (broken down into West coast, Great Lakes, South, and Northeast regions) with higher-performing associates able to push more for those cross-country projects and staffings. If your goal is to travel coast to coast (say you want to live in one region but go to another in order to remain in contact with friends, which is something I really solved for) it's a lot easier at McKinsey as far as I can tell. However if the majority of your friend group or people you'd like to see are concentrated in one area, this becomes less relevant. 

Staffing: The staffing you're going to get at McKinsey is going to be a lot more self-driven once you hit, say, the second year of your full-time job (or even sooner if you desire it). The staffing market at McKinsey works in a way where if you have projects you like and people who would staff you on those projects after speaking with them, you can push to be on those projects fairly easily and with little hassle - the system enables it. At the same time, you can also sit back and take a "random walk" so to speak where your staffing manager (PDM, in this case) helps you find a wide variety of projects across a whole gamut of industries in order to let you find what you like. I can't speak to staffing as much at BCG - someone else can chime in - but Bain staffing tends to be more directive and centralized from what I've seen and heard. Overall, for people who know what they like to do and aren't afraid to rock the boat and push a little for it, McKinsey is great for that. However, I think the likelihood of 'falling through the cracks' if you don't find good sponsors or backers is higher at McKinsey and BCG than at Bain - it's simply a function of the culture and how the system works. 

Sustainability: This is the last thing I'll talk about for now since there's a lot one can get into, but if you're heavily solving for sustainability of lifestyle (at least, whatever sustainability there is in consulting) then my two cents would be Bain has a slight edge out on this one. At Bain, the hours you're going to be working are on average a bit less (say more in the realms of 50-60 as opposed to 55-65 a week) and the culture/staffing model means that you're going to both be traveling less and that travel you do undertake is going to be shorter distance. McKinsey is the kind of firm that will take essentially whatever you don't nail down. Thankfully, you can nail down quite a lot at McKinsey without people batting an eye (they aren't psychos) but you have to be very upfront with the kind of boundaries you set and just remain mindful of when time usage is important and when it isn't. Which comes with experience - I personally am far from even good at it yet. 

I'll give one last note though that I think I've observed - same caveats apply - I think the differences between Bain and BCG/McKinsey are much, much greater than the differences between BCG and McKinsey. BCG does a great job when it comes to marketing themselves against McKinsey from an outsider's point of view by pointing towards culture and better perks, but there's a reason why they put those on the table. You'll find the classic comparison of "several flavors of kool-aid" to be much more apt when comparing green versus blue flavored kool-aid than versus red. All this is to say that, truly optimize for the people you want to work with, not any perceived feelings of prestige or network improvements over the other. 

2mo
ray226, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This was really helpful, thank you! I'm trying to talk to as many McKinsey consultants in my office as possible to get a sense of culture, and so far they've been honestly reassuring. I also think your point of BCG and McKinsey being more similar than one may think aligns with what I've been seeing so far. At least on these forums and stuff, I feel like I see a lot of the debate between Bain and McK (I guess as two opposite "ends of the extreme") and not between BCG and McK (primarily) like my situation. Guess I'm in the minority of those in my position haha.

2mo
generic_consultant23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Excellent write up. I'm at Bain and this is an accurate and fair portrayal of the key differences, tradeoffs, etc.

Another relevant tradeoff: faster path at Mck in tandem with greater up or out pressure (opposite at Bain).

OP, one thing I'll add is that it's hard to know what you truly value when you're still in school, so this will be a leap of faith to some extent. The idea of travel excited me when I was in undergrad, but now, one of my favourite parts of Bain is that I get to be in my home city and sleep in my own bed almost every night as opposed to spending more time in an airport than with my family. You will evolve over time but it's hard right now to know in what direction that will be.

The other thing that you allude to: I will say that many view McK vs. Bain as the "choice" to make given the differences (with the "right" choice coming down to what you want to optimize for). BCG in many respects sits as a "compromise" along the continuum and IMO, it's better to just pick what you care about and then optimize for that.

3mo
randomdude17, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey OP! I'm also an FGLI grad who received a FT offer from Bain. More than happy to chat if you have questions, concerns or just want to hear another perspective from someone similar to you. Congratulations on your offers!

Controversial
  • Intern in IB - Cov
3mo

Def Mck or bain. This is an internship offer, so I wouldn't weigh as heavily into culture or fit, contrary to what some people say, because you could very easily get into another MBB for FT (ESPECIALLY considering you got an offer to all 3, so any one of them that you would apply for full time would already have in their system that you just got an offer there a year ago :). On top of that, you're clearly amazing at interviewing, and if you're diversity, you'll have a lock to any of the three for FT.

Basically, McK offers the most prestige and network by far. I know people will say "it doesn't matter between the three." While some may say it may not matter as much, Mck has the biggest network/brand name in the world, period (argument can be made for GS as well). But More than HBS even. Certainly more than bain/BCG. That can certainly matter.You have Mck alumni everywhere. You can go anywhere after Mck. At my top HYPSM, Mck gives out considerably less offers than bain/BCG, and the candidates who get offers there are MARKEDLY better than the ones that get only bain/BCG. Yes, Mck may be more cutthroat (depends on location)- but it's a 10 week internship, and secondly, business is cutthroat. In all three of these firms, you will be expected to bend over backward for clients- you are at the highest tier of business. Get used to cutthroat, because you are competing against other consulting firms to win business. If you're scared of cutthroat/professionalism, don't enter consulting. As you rise up, everything - from recruiting to other jobs, to getting business to becoming a partner- is severely cutthroat.

Secondly, bain offers the best PE/finance exit opps. While you're not a PE junkie right now, your mind can easily change (it did for me). Bain gives you the opportunity to get into PE/finance if you want to later on, while also offering the EXACT same non PE exit opps that a BCG would.

Moving on to BCG; BCG has no competitive advantage over bain and Mck. And worst case, if you go to bain or Mck internship and for some reason hate it, you can always go to BCG for FT - however, if you absolutely hate the internship at Mck/bain, that might mean that consulting is not for you, and less of that specific firm is not for you (as contrary to what you think, your internship exp will be very similar at all three). Simple put, there is zero benefit to BCG internship - you would be giving up the immense prestige/network of Mck, and the PE/finance opps of Bain for no additional exit opps or network.

TLDR: for an internship, don't choose based on your extremely limited knowledge of their carefully marketed "culture". Choose based on prestige, network, and exit opps. Mck has best network/prestige in world, bain has best PE/finance exit opps, and BCG has no advantage over the other 2 (worse prestige/network than mck, and worst PE/finance exit opps by far compared to other 2.) nothing to lose by going to mck and bain, and many things to lose by going BCG.

2mo
consulting_noob, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah, I would totally believe an intern's take lol. If you've actually interned at at least one of the MBBs, you've still only spent a few weeks at one of them. To say what you're saying with such confidence about all of them, you either need to have been in the industry a long time or you just have the audacity. 

Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all

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  • Intern in IB - Cov
2mo

You do realize that what I said is widely know throughout the industry. I said that mckinsey is the most prestigious out of the MBBs - that is widely known. And I said Bain is know for their PE practice - that is also widely known. Just because I did internships doesn't change that fact.You obviously work at BCG so you're obviously pressed because your ego might be hurt which is why you replied to my comment - and yes, I scrolled down and confirmed that you do. BCG is a great place to work, don't get me wrong - but doesn't change the two points I made (mck most prestigious and bain known for PE). Let me know which one of those two points you think are inaccurate - and no, I don't need to have audacity or have worked in the industry for many years to make those two widely known points. The fact thing that you didn't explicitly say which one of my two points was wrong or what competitive advantage BCG offers over Mckinsey and instead attacked my background kind of violates the premise of consulting - being data driven.

2mo
leltec, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My friend, don't give advice like this if you have no idea what you're talking about. 

**First, for "cutthroat", I think you'll find the real world is very different from what you're imagining. The real world is about relationships - who you know, who likes you, who you deliver for, who can deliver for you. Believe it or not, people don't like others who throw them under the bus, refuse to play with the team, or who undercut everyone around them to get ahead. You win when people like you. You win when you both give and get. "Cutthroat" is a pejorative for a reason. That doesn't mean it's not competitive, but you'll reap everything you sow if you walk into the corporate world with that attitude. That's a very immature and unknowing take. 

**Second, your takes on competitive advantage are bad. I know you've convinced yourself that the only things consultants do is DD and the only things consultants care to exit to is PE, but from a business perspective on Bain vs. BCG, Bain is much smaller, with a much more limited global presence, less diverse capabilities, and fewer capabilities (digital, etc.) than BCG... On every front except a few standout strengths in PE and a couple corporate geo-industry combos, it's at a competitive disadvantage - by scale, talent, capability, and so on. BCG vs. MCK is actually head-to-head competition in every available board room and every geography out there. McKinsey has an edge in scale, along with depth of some capabilities (e.g., implementation) while BCG has strength relative to McK in some other capabilities (e.g., digital), but everywhere else it's based on people/talent/work done - a constantly shifting competitive environment on the dimensions of geography, industry/sector, and topic area. Some combo of those BCG kills McK on, other combos McK kills BCG on, the rest are hotly contested. Significant differentiation also comes in how each firm sells, with McK's approach meaningfully different from BCG's. 

Clients don't make decisions on "lol, I'll take McK because it has x% more prestige than Bain", they make decisions on relationships and on the people, capabilities, and experience each team brings to the table (and of course on price). It's much more idiosyncratic than you think.

You don't really grasp how this industry competes, so your take is bad. 

**Third, your advice on exit opps is myopic and not good. It seems you formed all of your opinions based on your singular, personal experience jumping from Bain internship to an MF PE gig. You should take care not to extrapolate to what you don't know. For PE, the reality is that headhunters do not give a f*ck which of the three you come from so long as you can progress through interviews. And once you're in the interview, PE firms don't either. From there it's a matter of interest/grind, case experience, geography, and interview performance. Saying that, Bain primarily has an advantage here, but not for the reasons you think. For Bain, they do a greater proportion of their work in DD, so you'll have that much greater a chance of ticking that "case experience" bucket on the above for interviews. A larger portion of your class going into PE also means A. that your manager may be more accommodating of your interview schedule, and B. headhunters may be that much more likely to reach out to your class/office. McK is a bigger firm and has larger classes for headhunters to reach out to - and so sees some benefit as a result. But so long as you do DD work at BCG (which has region and industry-specific DD ringfences), there's very little competitive difference between the three in the PE process. You'll generally find interest is the bigger differentiator in the outcomes you observe - fewer BCG people (and even fewer McK people for that matter) want to do PE, which has pros and cons if you want to do PE from BCG (smaller competitive pool within firm, but less in-firm support).

On top of that, this isn't a good take for anything else the OP might want to do. Headhunters and recruiters also don't care about the difference between the three, though alums of course might. Bain and Bain alums have a qualitatively and quantitatively worse presence than McK/BCG in almost everything but PE. And since the recruiting process is far less standardized in everything that's not PE, smaller presence and fewer alumni makes a much bigger difference in exit opps. Not to unilaterally dish Bain, but if you want to do anything but PE, BCG will generally crush it. McK will in turn have some narrower edge on BCG (due to scale), but the better advice for the OP on exit opps outside of PE would be to...

**Ask around and research at your offer office and among the people you've clicked with to see what strengths they have in which sectors/topic areas. That will tell you much more about the kind of work you'll be able to do and whether BCG, Bain, or McKinsey will have a geo/sector/topic edge that appeals to you more than the others.

2mo
generic_consultant23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're dissing the commentator above for not understanding consulting, and yet you rush in with a completely biased (and insecure) take towards BCG. Your exits aren't going to really differ across any of the 3 and all 3 win top tier projects across most industry verticals - as you literally said yourself, relationships matter. It's not just about who has the longest list of experts. And all 3 have excellent relationships in most verticals.

  • Teller in VC
3mo

Just go for where you liked it best.

If you decide with your head in the end - McK or Bain. No real point in going to BCG. They're a smaller, inferior version of McK. Bain is doing their own thing and has a separate proposition more focused on culture and finance options.

also no point splitting hairs because you can always recruit again for the other firms - just be courteous when you decline. Also you might hate consulting after the internship and 80-90% of people quit within 2-3 years anyway. Just pick something - it's not that big of a deal and exit opps are all the same

2mo
sweatbro2000, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bain has the best culture and treats it's people the best. That's the right choice and you already know it. Plus they have an incredible PE biz in which you can spend some time and then rotate to other non-PE opportunities.

2mo
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First Generation to college/Low Income. Ironically, it's a bit anti-woke because it looks at experience instead of skin-tone, and basically says "Kids who had to help pay the bills growing up have experience/diversity that the black son of a CEO doesn't have."

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
  • 1
2mo
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey there dude/dudette,

If the small affinity group at Bain you're talking about is 1GEN, then DM me. I started it.

But if you don't want to DM, then I'll give my 2 cents:

1) You can't go wrong.

2) Bainies love Bain in the same way that Soviets loved the Soviet Union. You either loved it or were dropped out of a helicopter. I got a bit of both during my time at Bain.

3) If it's the southern BCG system, run far away and DO NOT accept your offer. BCG Dallas is the only place I've heard of an Associate jumping off the building.

4) You don't have to be a PE junkie at Bain. I was there 2 years and only spent 1 week on a PE diligence. I landed in PE, ironically, but you don't have to do PEG if you don't want to.

5) If I knew then what I knew now, I probably would have picked McKinsey.

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
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2mo
queso, what's your opinion? Comment below:
kindheartedconsultant

Hey there dude/dudette,

5) If I knew then what I knew now, I probably would have picked McKinsey.

Not OP, but would love to hear the rationale

Esp as you ended up in PE hah

2mo
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's overblown in this forum that Bain is the best to get into PE. Realistically, McKinsey people have just as good a chance of getting in--I have McKinsey friends that went to top MF friendly PE funds just like Bainies, and it wasn't like they were grinding like crazy to do so, it was the same process as my Bain friends. Don't let the prestige whores tell you otherwise.

Bain was great and all, but McKinsey inherently has more people that think differently from each other and the ability to network to the cases that you want, whereas at Bain once you got your rating/how you were seen, that's how you were treated--Bain was very sticky. Also, Bain lagged behind on everything in regards to competing with BCG and McKinsey, including comp, industry expertise, etc. 

Also, COVID at Bain removed all the good parts they talk about in recruiting: culture was stripped away, hours got longer, and like half the class was pulled into PEG when they didn't want to be. It was brutal, and they didn't manage it well at all. I remember we had a partner presentation where one of the partners who was KNOWN for being down to earth/ACs loved was asked how he was handling COVID, and he chatted for like 5inutes on how awesome it was because now he was getting done before 5 and being at home, tone-deaf to the fact that our AC's class NPS had dropped to record lows, like, 10 year lows. From what I understand, McKinsey was rough during COVID as well, but the fall wasn't as sharp.

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
  • 9
2mo
consulting_noob, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm a recent addition to BCG and it's been great so far. I've had immense support at every level before and after joining, letting me focus on my job knowing everything else will be taken care of. The range of projects is interesting and there's a very regional model to staffing. I have less leverage here as a new hire, but that's because the talent team wants me to join projects where I can be developed. I can and do get in touch with case teams that staff projects I'm really interested. The differences between the MBBs are minor, especially McK and BCG are more similar than different. You can't go wrong with either choice, so take some time off to celebrate and choose the people and company you vibe the most with. Feel free to DM me if you want to chat about BCG. Congratulations and good luck!

Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all

  • 4
  • 3
2mo
snickett, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm speaking to this as somebody who a) failed to get an MBB summer b) has interviewed to final rounds at all three firms and c) is going to McK full-time. 

I would probably drop BCG as an option. I understand this feeling of "I've developed a preference" but I think this is just because you got that offer first and have had more time to envision yourself there/with those people. I've felt this for other firms in the past. In reality, BCG doesn't really align with any of your specified ambitions and doesn't deliver any meaningful advantages over McK/Bain.

Between McK and Bain, I think you should choose McK for your internship.

There are two relatively shallow/prestige focused reasons. Firstly, if you want to start a business eventually, McK is the strongest in terms of brand and network and best positions you to have the 'profile' of an entrepreneur. Secondly, McK is the best place to intern because it gives you the highest position from which to recruit elsewhere if you like - obviously Bain/BCG will value that experience, but even if it turns out you love technology or finance or law, the recruiters at Amazon/Goldman/Yale Law will always recognize McK as the tippity top of consulting.

The concern you have about McK being cut-throat and stiff is one I want to address. I think McKinsey is more 'rigid' or 'standardized' in many ways - as you might know, your interviews are strictly PEI + Case and are numerically scored on various dimensions in a formalized way, rather than a more qualitative or vibes-based approach at Bain. This appears to be true at the job as well - performance reviews and promotions are done in the same manner, with your peers and bosses and juniors scoring and rating you. But the effect of this, in my opinion, is to make the system relatively meritocratic and incentivize people to be helpful and supportive of one another. To be frank, I'm not sure I want to be buddy-buddy with every person in my work environment - throughout my internships I've found that highly successful working relationships don't need to overlap with being great friends outside work.

Regardless, McK BAs I've talked to have a ton of fun. Many of their best friends DO end up being other BAs in their office and the firm is truly extravagant with the places they fly you out to for 'trainings' and meetups e.g. GLAM just had a training in Berlin where folks took great advantage of the nightlife. I would honestly think harder about how much you want to travel - this is the key differentiator and McK folks are pretty much back to M-Th travel, even if it's not for client site visits but just for co-location. If you like the idea of travel and staying in nice hotels, that can be part of the 'fun' you have (though it obviously gets old) whereas if you want to be able to grab dinner with friends in your hometown during the week Bain is a better option (they basically do not travel anymore).

Feel free to DM me.

2mo
generic_consultant23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
2mo

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2mo
oasismonkey31, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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