Admitted to an M7 next fall, how do I best prepare myself for MBB recruiting now?

jtg.verde's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 12

Currently in the military, transitioning to an MBA program next fall and I'm already admitted to Kellogg Round 1. I have significant vacation saved up and will be ending my service around March so will have 5-6 months before starting school.

I know the typical advice is "don't need to do anything, just relax and enjoy yourself." And I'm already planning on doing that, going to be doing a LOT of traveling and awesome stuff I just didn't have the time or ability to do while in the military, but I will also have time to study and prep myself for MBA/recruiting.

I'm currently enrolled in the HBX CORE which I think is going to help as a primer for some of the basic business classes I'll take first quarter. Also looking at pre MBA internships but those seem few and far between and not a high likelihood of working out.

My goal is to crush school AND MBB recruiting once I'm on campus. Not that it's the end of the world if I don't get an MBB offer, but I want to 100% do everything I can to set myself up to get one of those jobs and not ask "what if". I know there's many other great firms that I'd be happy at but from what I understand MBB offers the best long term opportunity.

FWIW I have some weakness in quant as a humanities major, that I'll need to be working on the fundamentals. I got a 45Q on the GMAT so not a total doofus but I know consulting values quant skills. I'm just wondering if diving into case prep is maybe too soon or should I focus on other fundamentals?

Can anyone think of anything else? Anything you wished you'd done? Thanks!

Comments (22)

Dec 14, 2018

You could start networking with ex-military, ex-Kellogg people who are at MBBs. Anything more than 3 months of case prep is overkill.

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Jan 4, 2019

100% correct. Ping the guys in the school's veterans' association and they'll point you towards the second years and recent graduates going into consulting.

"Anything less than the best is a felony"

Dec 14, 2018

I wouldnt network with more than 1-2 people (total. Not per firm). The consultants appreciate the process around recruiting, there's no need to gun hard early and it doesn't move the needle. You'll also just end up having to talk to all the same people next year, which is going to be mind numbing.

Seriously - chill. Best you can do is poke around a bit, understand the consulting landscape, who the firms are and what they do at a very high level (you will get plenty of depth in recruiting) and start casually reading business journals. Anything else at this point is nonsense.

Case prep or anything else like that at this point is a bad idea.

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Dec 19, 2018

Thanks for the advice!

Can you go into more detail about business journals I should be reading to get a better understanding of the business environment/consulting.

Other than WSJ, and HBR I'm assuming. Thanks!

Dec 20, 2018

+1 more on the "relax" bandwagon. Your life is about to get hectic quickly - take some time to enjoy yourself, have experiences which make for great stories, etc. So much of consulting is about personality, don't kill yours stressing needlessly.

If you really want to do something, join Toastmasters. Strong communication skills are one of the traits I place the most emphasis on in candidates. I can teach someone to model but it's too hard to teach executive presence on the fly.

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Dec 23, 2018

Apply to McKinsey Emerging Scholar, BCG Fellows, Veterans at Bain Event. Surprised you haven't found these yet given your excitement level. You will end up connecting with consultants in the office that you are interested in. Deloitte CORE is also a good program, but not a recruiting event. There isn't a lot else you can do. The process is very structured.

Also, there are lots of jobs with good long-term opportunity, not just MBB. Read Case In Point if you want, it outlines the recruiting process and basics of a case. Case-ing any earlier than August and you will be that guy.

No firms look at GMAT scores anymore, so don't worry about that.

Dec 24, 2018

No firms look at GMAT scores anymore, so don't worry about that.

Can you support this?

I've had more than one MBB HR tell me that, while there's no hard cut off, it is a factor they look at.

Dec 25, 2018

Suppose I should have said GMAT is not as important as it use to be.

I'll answer in two parts:

1) On the School/CMC side, we were told to no longer follow the "put your GMAT on your resume if you have a 700+". The advice now is to use your own discretion, but maybe only include GMAT if you have a 750+. My take is that recruiters have told schools that they don't care about GMAT score as much as they use to.

2) Conversations with recruiters/consultants have said that grades and GMAT do not really matter anymore. If the firm has doubts about you or needs more data to make a decision on an interview invite, then yes, maybe they will look at GMAT, undergrad grades, MBA grades. For the majority though, this is not the most common thing. My take would be that candidates who have exceptional life experiences (military, athlete, non-profit) that may not necessarily have gone to the best undergrad or majored in the most difficult subject would fall into this category.

I suppose this could vary from school to school. I'm at an M7, so maybe there are differences at lower ranked program, or if you're in a lower-ranked program, putting a 750 GMAT on your resume could help you stand out. This is just my take, the recruiting process is pretty secretive from firm to firm. Also, once you have the interview, it's your performance on the interview that counts and nothing else.

Dec 26, 2018

GMAT matters a lot outside of the M7. At an M7, there is no GMAT "cutoff" to talk to the firms. But outside of the M7's the schools curate who can talk to them in the first place in many cases. Especially as you get towards the 15 end of the t15. This often includes an official or unofficial GMAT cutoff.

In the M7, it matters more informally than formally. Everyone can talk to every firm during recruiting but - at the end of the day it's a human reviewing your resume. If they are impressed with a GMAT score, or think you're hiding one and there are weaknesses elsewhere, you'd better believe it can influence their decision. The takeaway here is that there is no hard and fast rule at a firm or across firms - it can weight a decision though. If you're under 700 you're not screwed - but say in 5 decisions being made at 5 firms, maybe one of them will decide that it's enough to tip you towards a no interview pile. If that makes sense.

Why the difference between M7 and non-M7? Part of it is the agreement the schools have with the firms. But from a practical standpoint, the consultancies review (and honestly review) hundreds of resumes from each M7 school assuming there are a lot of "diamonds in the rough". As they get into the next tier, they focus on the top talent on paper to a bit higher extent.

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Dec 27, 2018

I kind of figured this was the case.

Having just gone through the recruiting process, I got the impression that my resume was never even read or reviewed and MBB doesn't even require cover letters. No firms even knew my GMAT until I submitted my interview application unless I had included it on my resume for the school's resume book (which I did not). I also feel like closed list interview decisions were made before we even submitted these applications. McKinsey turned around the closed list 2 days after the resume drop, BCG 4 days after, I think Bain was similar. It felt a lot more like the interactions with the firm at recruiting events and coffee chats are what got people interviews and resumes have become a formality.

I do not even think the second tier firms asked for GMATs. Again, this is just one school and you're on the other side of the process now. Just my experience.

Dec 28, 2018

I slightly disagree with you here. I am also at an M7 and I do believe they all had closed lists before the actual application. However, I think they made their lists after the resume book was published at my school. I ended up getting an interview with 1/3 and waitlisted at another. The two I didn't get, I know I networked very well (knew people very well at the firm, was invited to do a one on one case at the offices, etc).

I know my resume is pretty lackluster compared to a lot of people I am competing with (that's why I'm getting my MBA) but I was still surprised, especially the one I was waitlisted at bc I had some connections (and was at the closed list dinner). Hell, my buddy's fiance is at an MBB and he was waitlisted too. People discount the resume imo because theirs is probably top of the class. For reference, me and my friend are both URM with 740 GMAT and oddly got the same exact results for interview invites.

On the other end, I have a friend from England who got invites at all 3 despite almost no networking, but he is going for the London office so I think its a bit different (and he doesn't have an amazing resume)

Dec 29, 2018

I think the office can definitely make a difference too, but in no way should you try and game the system.

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Dec 28, 2018

Any tips on how to get on the closed list? Same Kellogg R1 admit here. Thanks.

Dec 28, 2018

I stated this above, but its more resume than people let on. If I were to do it over again, I would have not wasted my time networking with Mckinsey. Just go to their big presentation if you must. For the others, just meet a couple people and get them to like you. Won't pass you through the resume screen but will put a spotlight on your name.

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Dec 29, 2018

Like stated above. The process is very structured. You will attend the giant company presentation and from there, there will be closed list events (happy hours, dinners, workshops). Just show up, be normal, and try to talk to people on a personal level, not just standard consulting questions.

Again, if you apply to the things I listed above, that will get you on a list somewhere as someone who is interested in the firm. If you "win", it could guarantee you a first or final round interview. I was not selected, but after applying McK and BCG both connected me with people in the offices I was recruiting for which let me do some soft networking over the summer, but I do not think this made a huge difference.

Don't feel like you need to blast Kellogg MBB alumni on Linkedin right now, because that is not going to help. If you find one or two people that maybe share your exact background and are in an office your interested in, then go for it. The networking process is going to get redundant, same conversations over and over again, and there isn't really a way to get ahead of it, other than the MBB summer events discussed above.

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Dec 29, 2018

Use this time to relax and live in the moment. You run the risk of burning yourself out should you begin casing prep now.

Source: I am at an M7 and my peers recruiting for MBB are dying over the holidays.

Most Helpful
Dec 29, 2018

3 big takeaways from MBA consulting recruiting that i wish i knew ahead of time:

1) Brand matters - i was surprised to see the number of ppl working seemingly "easy" functions at well-known companies getting closed-list invites everywhere. if you have spent any amount of time at a high-profile company (Goldman, JPM, Google) doing literally anything there, make sure you highlight that in your resume and in your elevator pitch. at the end of the day, we are all human and are inherently biased in favor of people when we hear they spent time at Goldman Sachs regardless of the fact that they were working in financial reporting there

2) Office choice matters - recruiting for NYC/SF? That will be tough especially if you are attending a school not within the vicinity of either city. Recruiters will tell you that office choice doesn't matter but that is complete BS. It is supply and demand - the demand for McKinsey NYC is way higher than McKinsey Dallas so this raises the "price" of the candidate quality needed to get a job at McKinsey NYC. Sure, NYC has more openings every year than Dallas, but the % of ppl going for the NYC office compared to Dallas is greater than the % of more roles in NYC vs Dallas. If you are really set on MBB and don't mind living in a less than ideal place for a year or two, apply for the Dallas/Atlanta/Detroit offices as your competition for those offices will be a lot less. Keep in mind, you will need a solid reason why you suddenly want to live in Dallas after spending your entire life in New York. I'm not advocating doing this, but for some ppl they want MBB really badly and are willing to take any advantage they can get in securing a spot so I thought it was worth sharing this piece of info.

3) Project Management is an important skill set - at the end of the day, a lot of work at the post-MBA level (in all fields, not just in consulting) really revolves around managing a project/program and carrying it successfully to the finish line. If you can highlight instances in your pre-MBA life where you have successfully managed a project, this will be very helpful in landing a job within consulting as it will show your ability to deliver results and just 'get shit done'

Some of this might not apply to you given your background seems to be entirely military, but I figured it was worth sharing my 2 cents in case other future MBA students stumble across this thread

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Dec 31, 2018

Just to clarify one point here. Recruiting from t15 or below is very regional. Recruiting from an M7 is much more national. That's more a function of firm resources and where they allocate dollars to make connection nationally rather than pick up a few slots in DC/Houston/etc. McK NYC is really hard from UT or UCLA - but no harder than any other office from Booth/Stanford.

Also, the big offices hire a lot of people every year. So while there is huge demand for those offices, there is also a high supply. Local offices might literally be hiring 1 person. If you don't have a compelling story for those offices, it is hard compete with someone with a similar profile who has a wife and kid living a mile from the office and went to the same UG as the managing director.

Basically, if you're at a school outside of the M7, you should probably target your school's closest offers (i.e. the 1-3 offices where they have historically placed people). At an M7 recruit wherever you want, but the really small offices you still need a compelling story.

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Jan 2, 2019

I didn't do consulting but had many friends who did (I also went to an M7). Posting because I think my outsider's view could offer a different perspective.

What I noticed in the MBB crowd was a needlessly large amount of cramming for case study prep. They had fun early in the school year, then became case prep zombies in the winter. By comparison, IB candidates like me had a more steady burn because IB networking starts so early in the school year that by winter, we were already in a groove. More of a marathon than sprint.

The problem with the case prep binging is that it comes at the expense of classes, socializing, clubs, health etc etc. It basically derails your life for the winter. So if you can start that practice earlier and smooth out the curve, I think it will help you stay on top of everything else in life.

Jan 2, 2019

I don't think you need to go full blown case prep - that said, some people that I know that were successful started case stuff pretty early. So reading some of the books the people put out and familiarizing yourself with various cases probably wouldn't be a bad idea. They are so rote and despite various narratives, there are really only a handful of cases that getting a baseline would be helpful. That said, I dont think its necessary to do cases etc. just read them and learn some basics so when its time to really prep you'll just be able to focus on the important stuff.

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Jan 3, 2019
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Jan 3, 2019