Consulting is a joke

Pay 300+ in tuition for a top target only to make literally 120k all-in at MBB (and even less than 6 figures at lower tier firms), which is literal shit. The work consultants do--making random powerpoints: basically stretching reality with fancy writing and fonts, amid vague requests and vague proposals--is all vapid, glib nonsense that's thrown out the moment the engagement is over. You can literally graduate a no-name state school with a 3.3 gpa in cs and make 200k at minimum in tech while working on some interesting problems.

Yes, there's a real discussion to be had as to whether tech has surpassed IBD for the average performer. However consulting shouldn't even be sniffing this. It's a joke career.

Edit: This post is targeted for high-achieving college students at top targets, for whom 120k--especially in high COL areas--is quite literally, peanuts. If you are making less than 120k, you have no right to insult me.

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Comments (88)

Funniest
May 16, 2022 - 4:16pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 21
May 16, 2022 - 4:23pm
monkeyuser69420, what's your opinion? Comment below:

$120k all-in directly out of undergrad is a blessing. Mommy & Daddy usually incur cost of $300k tuition, and fin-aid helps for those who didn't grow up rich. Virtually no kid is taking on that much debt (except perhaps middle/upper-middle class households) to not have 6 figure salary be more than enough as a starter. Most people don't make that in their lives.

May 17, 2022 - 2:27pm
Username_TBU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's the alternative? 120k on 300k is a 40% ROI Y1, assuming your income would otherwise be 0. Let's say with no college you can earn 50k (generous), so the difference is 70k - that's a 23% ROI (I learned how to do all of this in college btw!). 23% is pretty good. But the point of all of these careers isn't what you make out of college, it's about providing a springboard to your career to faster earnings growth.

If your question is tech vs. consulting vs. IBD, then that's a different question. But you need to zoom out and view it from the lens of the big picture. There are more CEOs that come from consulting than from IBD

May 16, 2022 - 4:57pm
sylvester_the_investor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Making 200k in tech right out of undergrad is not nearly as easy/common as just majoring in CS and having an ok GPA. Those types of salaries are reserved for the very best going to work at the biggest companies. I go to a top target for big tech and also am friends with lots of CS majors at non-target, bigger schools. Those coming from the non-targets are typically making more like 90-110k. Not saying that I agree/disagree with other points made in this post, but the implied commonality of huge salaries in tech straight out of undergrad is exaggerated.

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May 17, 2022 - 5:56pm
sylvester_the_investor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree that it's very possible to receive 200k offers from big tech while coming from a non Ivy/MIT/Stanford and having an average GPA. Like you stated though, there is a lot of other effort that goes into receiving those offers (becoming an excellent programmer, doing internships, doing applications). OP made it sound like the only requirements to get an offer like that are having an ok gpa from an ok school and majoring in CS. In my personal experience, my friends that have done that and haven't really put in the extra effort to become excellent programmers have not gotten those 200k+ offers, but have gotten (still awesome) 90-110k at smaller, lesser-known places.

I actually love that tech hires more based on actual skills than the prestige of the background of a candidate, in contrast with IB or buy-side firms which seem more focused on the prestige factor. Though, there is often (but certainly not always) a somewhat close correlation between the type of people who are driven enough to become good enough programmers to get those huge offers and the type of people who are able to get into top schools and achieve high GPAs in college. I admire both those who fall into that correlation and those who did not focus as much on college and instead learned how to be excellent programmers in a more internship/side-project/self-taught kind of way.

May 23, 2022 - 1:06am
wallstreetape, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You do not need to do leetcode hards lol. Unless you're going into SWE at a Quant shop, no company is asking you anything over a medium, most don't even ask mediums

Most Helpful
May 16, 2022 - 9:43pm
AnonymousGoon, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. If $120k first-year is a laughably low number to you, then unfortunately there are exceedingly few career options that you might consider financially viable
  2. I believe you're massively underestimating how competitive the high paying tech jobs are
  3. Being a SWE is a very different type of job vs consulting or IB and will often attract people with very different preferences or skills, so it doesn't really make sense to just say "don't be a consultant because SWE pays more"
  4. I don't believe you actually have a decent understanding of the work consultants do. There are reasons that companiesΒ spend a ton on consulting and consultants are viewed favorably for many business management roles when they exit. Given how sensitive P&Ls can be, it'd be such an easy place to slash spending if hiring consultants wasn't producing value
  5. If you work for a major strategy firm (MBB/T2), over 2-3 years you'll probably get a much more varied set of experiences vs almost any other job. Consulting is attractive to people who don't really know what they want to do since each 3-6 month project is sort of an internship in a new function/industry, and you can camp out/get promotedΒ for ~5 years (usually until manager) before you really start thinking about specialization.Β I don't think it's a stretch to say the breadth of exit optionsΒ is higher for consultants vs finance or SWE
May 17, 2022 - 12:11am
PrivateTechquity πŸš€GMEπŸš€, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Consultants are largely overpriced paper pushers whose job is just to confirm what management already wants to do - change my mind.

Array

  • 1
May 17, 2022 - 12:28pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
PrivateTechquity πŸš€GMEπŸš€

Consultants are largely overpriced paper pushers whose job is just to confirm what management already wants to do - change my mind.

I worked in consulting on one project for the US Army. It was $20 million in revenues per year. Our job was to design a distributed learning system for soldiers across the world. This way, they could log in and learn useful skills with their MOS and be battle ready when the time comes. We had a bunch of developers and I managed the financials. The Army couldn't have done this on their own, so they hire consultants.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
May 18, 2022 - 1:36am
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A learning management system is less complicated than a battlefield app, for example. That's one downside of consulting. Sometimes one gets staffed on less challenging projects since the project is not deemed important enough to be staffed with the client's personnel. There is less chance of this happening if one works for top tier consulting firms.

May 17, 2022 - 10:27am
Drumpfy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you tell a random person you're a banker at Goldman Sachs, software engineer at Google, aerospace engineer at NASA, etc. you will instantly come off as successful, smart, hard-working, etc.Β  But normal people have no idea what a consultant at Bain is and will assume you're just a generic office worker.

May 17, 2022 - 10:31am
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah I'd actually argue B4 audit is more recognizable to the common person compared to MBB.Β 

Array

  • 2
May 17, 2022 - 11:29am
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are playing the 'is it recognizable/interesting/prestigious to the average person' game then lol you are going to lose bigtime in the finance route because trust me the average individual doesnt give a shit about 90% of finance careers. They might know what Wall Street is, or that it comes with money (just like they would think if you said 'lawyer' despite making 75k a year) but it really wont impress anyone.Β 

Get into finance for the money, sure. Get into finance to impress your peers at an ivy league school, unhealthy but it'll get the job done. Get into finance for the work, if you want to tell yourself that, maybe.Β 

But to think it impresses 90% of the population or will lead to an engaging conversation at a cocktail party? You will be sorely disappointed. Because the guy next to you that served some random stint in the navy for 10 years or the girl that opened her own cupcake business with 3 storefronts will be much more interesting and impressive to most folks.

May 17, 2022 - 11:18am
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not sure I understand the complaint.Β  The work investment bankers do is also meaningless and mostly useless.

Also, 120,000 is a ton of money for a 22 year old to be making.Β  Even if you are paying the 300k in tuition, that is still a deal most people should take running away.Β  That ROI is insane, since your salary is only going up.

TL;DR - OP is an out-of-touch moron who probably isn't sniffing a top tier consulting job, let alone anything in tech or IB

May 17, 2022 - 12:12pm
Harvard_GS_HBS_KKR, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lmao actually an incoming BB IBD SA and a student at a top target, but whatever helps you sleep at night.

Also, 120k is incredibly low in high COL areas. Especially given the fact that if you're an MBB new-grad consultant, you probably could've aimed for tangential roles like IBD or PE--which are both just as competitive. Which is exactly my point.

May 17, 2022 - 1:23pm
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Harvard_GS_HBS_KKR

Lmao actually an incoming BB IBD SA and a student at a top target, but whatever helps you sleep at night.

So you're a summer analyst.Β  Almost.Β  We'll see how long it takes you to get a FT offer when you go in complaining about how badly underpaid you are.

Also, 120k is incredibly low in high COL areas. Especially given the fact that if you're an MBB new-grad consultant, you probably could've aimed for tangential roles like IBD or PE--which are both just as competitive. Which is exactly my point.

120,000 is a lot of moneyΒ anywhere.Β  The number of jobs that pay that kind of salary to freshly minted college graduates are exceptionally small.Β  What percentage of new IB analysts live in Manhattan, the most expensive place to live in the country?Β  Something well above 75%, I'd guess.Β  It's almost exactly the median income for a family of three (so.... including a lot of two income households) for the New York City region.

If you are trying to argue that you should just work in finance or tech, sure, go ahead.Β  It's just disgustingly out of touch with reality to suggest that to be making six figures as a 22 year old, doing work of no real value or difficulty, is somehow "underpaid" let alone by a large amount

May 17, 2022 - 4:51pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Harvard_GS_HBS_KKR

Lmao actually an incoming BB IBD SA and a student at a top target

hahahahaahahahahahahahahaha zero experience and bitching about consulting - what a joke

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
May 17, 2022 - 12:03pm
guyfromct, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why focus on the first year comp? People don't optimize for the short term, they do it for the career. Consulting offers both a well structured path up and the ability to kick the can down the road for a few years in terms of deciding what someone wants to do.Β Consulting opens doors.

May 17, 2022 - 12:11pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Having direct access with business leaders, especially at F500 companies, is something the average joe blow might not get for 2-3 decades in their career.

First comp is nothing to sneeze at - that's fantastic pay. But like you said it opens the door to a number of optionsΒ 

In summary. Op is a phaggot

May 17, 2022 - 3:34pm
PaleNimbusWhite, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Recruiting for tech is not as easy nor (in general) as lucrative as you described. And even if it was, that doesn't necessarily imply that 120k is "peanuts."

If we're talking about work, junior software engineers will edit random lines of code every now and then and push them to their supervisors. Junior bankers are always tinkering with a model in Excel while listening in to arbitrary meetings from which maybe ~1% of the content actually materializes into something meaningful. Like you can make any career pointless if you simplify it that way, right?

Not everyone chooses a career purely for pay - otherwise all of us should be working in quant. Even though I chose banking in the end, I do have friends who prioritized quality of life while still maintaining good pay and diverse exit opportunities. In light of those three, I think consulting is a pretty good option.

I imagine it's not an unpopular opinion to say that paying 300k for an undergrad education is nuts. But the solution to that isn't "just choose SWE." People interested in CS are (in my experience) very different from the ones that choose consulting. Personally, I dabbled a bit in both during undergrad too, and I just found it insanely challenging to grasp the complex algorithms and coding concepts, but found it relatively easier and more interesting to learn about case interviews and try and solve a broader problem for a business.

A lot of SWE is about sitting in a cubicle or on your desk at home and coding on your own. And if you're the type of person who feeds off of human interaction, that can be a suffocating environment. Whereas in consulting you are always talking to and meeting people. Choosing a career is (and should be IMO) a whole lot more nuanced than you made it out to be here.

May 18, 2022 - 1:46am
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

SWE has to produce results. The code works, or it doesn't. It's a binary outcome. Consulting is different. Take CNN+ as an example. McKinsey gets paid despite CNN+ being a massive failure. And that's one drawback with consulting - at times there are no measurable or tangible results, nor do the consultants get assigned long enough to see through the execution phase.

May 17, 2022 - 7:28pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My friend worked at a T2 consulting firm, then attended HBS and then BCG. He is CEO of Binance now.Β 

Am I a joke to you? High resolution : r/MemeTemplatesOfficial

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 17, 2022 - 8:42pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Harvard_GS_HBS_KKR

Yes, and there was also a college dropout who founded Microsoft.

Not sure what your point is here. Why don't you dropout?Β 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
May 17, 2022 - 8:00pm
BobTheBaker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

$120k all in out of undergrad is great money. Not to mention the career progression/exit ops. Troll thread.

Array

May 17, 2022 - 10:15pm
robert139, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't disagree that consulting work is stupid but how is it different than 90% of IB work? Answering stupid diligence requests just to confirm the gut opinion of a PE partner and putting absolute BS on a page to sell a crappy business.

Also, $120k is obviously less than IB but they don't work weekends generally. Not sure how $120k for 60 hours a week vs 160k for 80 hours a week are that different - and before everyone tells me how first year analysts now make $250k let's talk after this years bonuses when we aren't in the greatest M&A market in history.

Comp scales quickly too, easy path to making $400k+ in your mid 20s and a few million a year at the partner level.

Would argue the true value in MBB is exit ops. As much as it might pain this forum to say it, they have way broader exits than IB. Lots of PE firms hire a ton from MBB (Bain, Advent, H&F, Berkshire, etc all accessible), but also way better corporate exits as well as things like tech strategy, startups, VC, so on. The other perk is they can actually exit at the senior levels - IB VP+ exits are generally not super interesting, but MBB partners go on to be CEOs.

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May 17, 2022 - 10:58pm
Long Only Funds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

MBB Consultants are extremely superior to those stupid bankers (Sales). Bankers in senior level are just slaves to clients. MBB kids often times provide actual strategies to the highest level execs.Β 

May 17, 2022 - 11:15pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 18, 2022 - 1:13am
shakethatmoneymaker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You can literally graduate a no-name state school with a 3.3 gpa inΒ csΒ and make 200k at minimum in tech

Here's the thing: 90% don't. I love when people say tech is the best bc you make 200k out of school, but that is completely wrong. Most make between 70-100k, with above average kids making 100-130k. Only the best make as much as you are saying.Β 

May 18, 2022 - 11:37am
baddealflow12, what's your opinion? Comment below:

this isnt true at all.Β  if you have a CS degree and have average coding skills, and have american citizenship,Β  VERY easy to get a 200k job out of school.Β  Β 

May 18, 2022 - 1:14pm
Abusement Park, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When I was interviewing for my current IB role, I had a take-home case study to complete as a part of the interview. Got stumped and asked my consulting buddy (3-years experience at a top shop) to help me out. He says "fuck yeah, I'll send you one of my models you can use as a template."Β 

He proceeds to send me a 100% hardcoded model that looked pretty with firm colours and everything. It was at that moment I realized consulting is a joke.

May 18, 2022 - 7:39pm
Irehdna, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Maybe more relevant at the post-MBA level when about to start a family, but consulting isn't as tied to high COL cities as finance and big tech. Tech salaries are inflated heavily because of where they are located.

May 22, 2022 - 11:10am
FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post and all, but it seems you missed this small little thing called interest in the work itself and common sense.Β 

There are some people who enjoy the work of CS, IBD and Consulting and are more or less indifferent to all three. I'd argue that many, many, many people would struggle to earn average or above average salaries if they fundamentally didn't enjoy the work.Β 

This debate and constant nonsense about going into the field that makes you richest assumes that high performers will remain that regardless of where they go, but that's a huge assumption. I, for one, hate working in CS and can't fathom doing something like that for a living. I also know my mental and physical limitation to consistently be "on" as required in IBD since the average hours extend around ~70-80 hours on average. With that said, if I pursued a career in either of those, I'd be at average or below average and wouldn't earn the all-in comp you're using as your benchmark.Β 

The other notion you completely ignoredΒ is the exit opportunities and interests of the individual. If someone wants to develop skills for VC, Industry or build their own business, consulting (specifically business consulting within operations or strategy) provides a great lens for what to keep in mind. Not every high-performer wants to keep at the grueling pace of IBD in the long-run and the exit ops of IBD are limiting. Not every high-performer enjoys or sees themselves pursuing tech as SWE or PM as well.Β 

Whether you see the value in consulting or not (you don't) is up to you. There's very little I can type to change that. I could type the fact that clients see an ROI since they continue to request more engagements, or that some contracts include execution phase contingencies or team augmentations. I could even bring up the thousands of cases of consulting firms literally bragging about their successful engagements because of their industry experience, intellectual capital or existing research/surveys in the space. I don't think any of that would change your mind, so I won't bother boring you with the details of a field in which you've already deemed is "beneath" you.

May 23, 2022 - 1:57am
qwertykeys, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 25, 2022 - 5:59am
rgz8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 25, 2022 - 12:09pm
Harvard_GS_HBS_KKR, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 25, 2022 - 7:28pm
rgz8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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