AMA - Left First Undergrad with Sub 2.0 GPA====>Booth MBA/"Tier 2" Consulting

Hi folks - I've been active on here for quite some time and thought I'd give back by sharing a bit of my background and providing some advice for those of us on the 'second chance' track.

I left my first degree (top 50 undergrad) with a sub 2.0 GPA after 2 years (family issues and frankly, maturity issues). Subsequently, I re-enrolled full time at a very low ranked state college while working full time in the hotel industry. After graduation, I tried to become a management consultant, but my profile clearly didn't fit the bill (one top firm sent me a response stating that I didn't have the required skills and asking me not to contact them in the future).

After another year in hospitality as an overnight then daytime manager on duty, I transitioned to a top 10 pwm firm in a Northeast office. I spent a few years with my head down learning the ropes, then took three promotions in a year including a move to help support a new region of the business, finished the CFA and CFP and was offered a promotion to found another new region as the first portfolio manager in the office (which I turned down for business school). App'd to H/S/W/Booth, was deferred to round 2 at HBS and accepted at Booth. I enrolled at Booth.

I was offered interviews at every major consulting firm over OCR on campus (including final rounds at that firm who asked me to never contact them again after UG - no, I won't say who they were), interned in a role consulting to my old industry and ultimately landed at a top T2 shop (think Deloitte/OW/Parthenon/ATK/Strategy&/LEK). I start this fall.

Each step of my career post-undergrad was crafted in honing a resume that would give me a second shot at consulting through b-school. Happy to answer questions on b-school, Booth, GMAT (I tutored for Veritas during school), the accelerated career progression and how I pulled it off, etc.

Comments (70)

Jul 9, 2017

Thanks for doing the AMA and congrats on your success!

How directly did you address the low GPA in your MBA apps? Did you just use the optional/additional essay? Also, has your UG GPA been a factor in consulting recruiting at Booth at all?

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Jul 10, 2017

I addressed it differently by school. Generally, I made my story the 'turnaround' - about how I left UG due to family issues with the low GPA and how I focused on my personal development after that. So related to the poor grades but with the focus on what I accomplished after. There are risks to this approach. I knew that the story was less competitive than a lot of peers that would be applying but I was hoping it would resonate with one or two top programs. I think I was generally successful on that front. You can kind of tell what schools are interested in from the apps. Wharton, for example, doesn't leave a lot of room for this sort of expression. Booth leaves a lot of room to describe yourself above and beyond the resume/stats.

Bear in mind that I checked all the other boxes. Top 1% GMAT, decent resume (not great, pwm isn't a consistent feeder to M7, but the promotional track record helped), very solid recs from senior folks at my bank and extracurriculars. The certifications + GMAT probably overcame any doubts about my ability to handle the workload. If you're going to make a turnaround story out of an app, it should probably be a really good one. I waited an extra few years to apply for b-school for this reason (I enrolled at 30) so that I could show actual professional accomplishment and help assuage any doubts. It took a lot of dedication to play the long game, but I don't think I would have been competitive at 3 or 4 years of work experience.

Consulting recruiting can be assessed in two ways - success in getting interviews, and success with getting offers. The latter is more driven by your ability to perform on cases etc. I was very successful in getting interviews. As a 30 year old candidate, I think the focus was more on my professional accomplishments. Ultra high GMAT helps (especially for Big 4, etc). I originally scored a 690 and retook because I didn't feel competitive as a mixed GPA candidate. The CFA was definitely a differentiator for consulting recruiting and I had a number of interviews at firms I didn't even recruit for (CFA + GMAT had to have counted big here, since I had friends with solid backgrounds that I beat out in some of those cases for first rounds).

Finally, I think re-enrolling at a new school helped a lot, even if it was a low tier university. I graduated magna cum laude while working full time, which shows a definite shift in attitude. I've suggested to multiple people who take time off of school due to bad grades to re-enroll at a new university so they get a fresh transcript.

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Jul 10, 2017

Mind sharing generally what kind of extracurriculars you did as well as your time commitment? Were you a founder / president of any of these organizations?

Thank you!

Feb 11, 2018

Is there a minimum GMAT score for tier 2 firms and MBBs? I'm going to a top-15 school, think Darden, Fuqua, Stern.

EDIT: just realized the comments were all in 2017. Here's to hoping there isn't.

Jul 10, 2017

Congrats! Love to hear stories like this.

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Jul 10, 2017

These success stories are good. I have a similar experience, you had long nights and days, didn't you, @BreakingOutOfPWM?

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Jul 10, 2017

You know, I was fortunate enough that the 'hours' for my role for more 9-5/9-6. I worked later than everyone else but also was careful about how I used my free time. Spending a good chunk of my off hours in learning more about my career/industry/company and our investment strategies was helpful.

Congrats on your own success.

Jul 10, 2017

Thanks for doing this.

What's your profile for business schools (basically shorthand for URM or not, since you mentioned everything else)? What was your score on the GMAT? Which was the top firm that rejected you so that we can hate on it now?

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Jul 10, 2017

Definitely not a URM candidate. That coupled with the finance background had me worried, since I knew what I'd be up against coming from finance (I was also concerned that coming from a bank, and not JPM/GS, I'd be compared to the best of the best in finance - IB and AM - and my take having gone through b-school is that its likely that PWM candidates are pooled in this bucket, which is why so few of us land at M7). In my shoes, an admissions consultant would have counseled me against focusing on my 'turnaround' in my apps. I knew that I was banking on one school's adcom to feel a connection with the story.

As an aside, Sandy K (HBSGuru) reviewed my profile once and commented that my background would usually be an auto-ding for HBS. The deferral to round 2 (this basically means that they found the profile qualifiable but from a demographics/industry perspective, they want to see what the applicant pool in round 2 looks like and they'll invite you for interviews if they have less applicants from your industry than they expect) he considered a big win. He thought a big part of the deferral came down to the storytelling in my essays. I'm a pretty good writer. I'd suggest that other people writing these turnaround essays hire a consultant if they're not a persuasive writer.

GMAT was solid top 1% (760-800).

I actually had the best connection to 'that' firm for MBA internship recruiting and was really close after my final rounds, so I don't want to bash them. But it was one of the 'best of the best'. I have a lot of respect for them and one of their partners has also stayed in touch hoping I'll reapply in a few years. They also were unbelievably helpful during recruiting. It's funny how things change, but I also understand. I was a hotel bellman with a shitty degree when I first applied. I would have thrown out the app too.

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Jul 10, 2017

Kudos all around bro! Now we know that in spite of sub-par GPAs and a lack of solid work experience, Booth definitely looks at other parameters and makes its decision. Key drivers in your case were the CFA, the CFP and the solid GMAT.

As for the firm, I'm guessing it's McKinsey. AFAIK, they are the only MBB polite enough to reply to your application with a positive or negative letter. And polite enough to ask candidates to reapply in future.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Jul 10, 2017

SBs all around brotha.

probably time to change that username huh? BrokeOutofPWM...

    • 1
Jul 10, 2017

Thanks! If I could change usernames, I would, but at this point I'm proud of my history on this site so I'm keeping it.

As an aside, since I know your thoughts on the industry based on your WSO insights, I loved my years in PWM and think that the relationship management skills and financial background served me exceptionally well in business school (and will also in consulting). It also gave me an experience niche that many of my classmates, especially aspiring entrepreneurs, lacked. My thought process was that with my background, I can always go back in 10 years, but it would be hard to try something else if I went back now. I was the only associate level employee at my bank heavily engaged with the sales process (I was essentially an acting VP and represented at high level sales and client meetings in place of our region's most important PM, in addition to supporting them), I generated a number of leads over $10MM by proactively attending networking events and developed my own relationships with COI's so the sales experience is already there should I want to return. And a few years of consulting at a top firm will only help me build a book faster when I have a few grey hairs, in addition to helping me build a better analytical toolkit.

So I might still have the opportunity to poach your clients one day.

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Jul 10, 2017

Congrats and thanks for doing the AMA!

Could you comment on why you decided to go to business school to pursue consulting vs staying in PWM? Seems like you were on a roll with some opportunity as well.

Jul 10, 2017

I touched on a little of this in my response to thebrofessor above. Additionally, frankly, the consulting comp right out of school for a tier 2 firm is more than I would have gotten staying with my old firm. Coming back from b-school I could have negotiated similar comp to consulting. But the optionality (being able to try something new and still having the option to return to pwm if I didn't like it/it didn't work out) was still attractive.

Consulting is also a more rigorous industry and I wanted to learn to go deeper on analyzing decisions, which consulting will certainly help me do. As much as I enjoy golf, I felt like my sales skills were fairly well developed and it was time to build the other half of what I consider am important part of my professional profile (a technical toolkit). It might be the reverse order of what most people on WSO experience (technical first, relationship later) but I also recognized that the sales background will be a big boon to me if I make it to the manager level and above in consulting, so it's also a leg up in that industry. I also considered Asset Management but decided that I working with clients was a strength of mine I wasn't willing to completely let go; banking crossed my mind for a minute, but being over 30 I'd like at least some opportunity to manage relationships outside of work.

Plus, consulting was a 7 year dream for me, and I wasn't willing to let that go. I had the 'chip on my shoulder' for a long time after my undergraduate missteps, and being able to close the loop on that story brought a lot of peace of mind for me.

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Jul 10, 2017

Congrats! Great story.

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Jul 10, 2017

Thanks! Glad it made for good monday morning coffee reading.

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Jul 10, 2017

How big of a grin did you have on your face when you walked into the offices of the firm who said to never contact them again?

+1 Congrats OP on the success, great story.

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Jul 10, 2017

Haha flying in for final rounds was pretty epic. I nailed my first final round too. There were some hiccups in the last case. The second partner I interviewed with was an hour late which rattled me and I was riding too big of a high after my first interview, my head wasn't clear.

I also had, I think, a little too much pressure on myself to succeed in recruiting after all I'd been through. Regardless, I think I'll have another shot with them in a year if I want it. I'm ecstatic with the offer I accepted, so I'm going all in on that for now.

I did decide that if I ever end up there, that's the story that will wait for my retirement speech.

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Jul 10, 2017

@BreakingOutOfPWM thanks for the AMA. I'm interested in Booth as I'm looking to make a significant career transition from Operations O&G to MBB or perhaps even IB.

I'm worried about the quality of my recommendations. Any comments on this? How did you approach getting recommendation letters?

I imagine people have VPs, SVPs, or even CEOs writing recommendations or is this not the case? The only people I can get them from would be my immediate boss, former manager who is now a GM, and my current Director at an O&G company. Would this be too weak?

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Jul 10, 2017

Your background + any M7 MBA will give you a great shot at either goal. I'd suggest widening your target firms; much like MBA acceptances, there's luck and variability to both consulting and IB recruiting due to the large talent pool. You'll be competing against the best of the best, even for tier 2 roles and below - I know plenty of HYPS undergrads with solid work experience who didn't land their top firms. For consulting, make sure you target every tier 2, Accenture and MBB in addition to a handful of other firms (pick 2-4 from EY/IBM/ZS/KPMG/IBM/ regional firms at your school etc). I found my story was much easier to tell after spending a summer at a 'lower tier' consulting firm. Don't be afraid to sell your prior experience at one or two of the lower tier firms that specialize in O&G, not a lot of candidates do this which would give you a leg up for re-recruiting if you have to go down that path. Getting that consulting stamp worked for me when I recruited again in the fall.

Your recommendations are perfect. All schools, including Booth, prefer recommendations from your direct managers. They're interested in determining what your true impact has been on the workplace. Having folks with a fancy title and an MBA can help but isn't necessary and I'd take my regional head over the CEO any day if they can better articulate my value add. I actually moved from hospitality largely to cultivate better recommendations for business school. If a manager or supervisor is an alum, that's even better. The only time the "fancy title" recommendations seem to carry a lot of weight is when it is a very important person (read: government official at the top of their game like Yellen or CEO of a F500).

I'd pick up a book on MBA apps that has a section on cultivating recommendations. The biggest pitfall is not guiding your managers in what traits you want to highlight and what the general tone should be. They should be writing their own words, but I gave my recommenders a slipsheet of my accomplishments and some guidance on the qualities I was highlighting in my application. Letting them put their own flair/spin on the wording is good, the app will be less templatey as a result. My best recommendation actually came from a sales manager I supported (sales managers are fairly senior in pwm, and she was well credentialed), who was really over the top in a positive way on my impact on the team. These are the stories that best resonate.

If possible I'd review the letters before they're submitted, but this can be a touchy subject. Either way I'd offer guidance. If your manager isn't used to an MBA reference, they're different than the standard introduction letters. You don't want a "I've had the pleasure to work with x, who is an asset to the team and I would recommend in any situation". They should be telling stories about how your impact has made their team better, and the more overly enthusiastic the better.

    • 7
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Jul 10, 2017

Thanks for doing the AMA, good quality info throughout, as expected from your posts.

I'm a couple of years behind you on the MBA journey. Good advice so far about crafting your story for applications and coaching your referees. I wish I had known that at the time, to this day I have no idea what my referees wrote about me, could partly explain the mixed results I got.

Could you shed some light on the networking side of consulting recruitment? What type of events did you attend on and off campus, and what was the schedule like in terms of how many times would you meet with each employer and was it the same group of employees each time? Any info on this aspect would be much appreciated.

Jul 10, 2017

Sure. I'm not going to focus on exact dates, because Booth and Kellogg are a bit different than the other schools and it's also changed a little. Also, this is specific to M7 programs. Access to firms might not be as open at lower tier schools.

First Year (Internship Recruiting)
Recruiting began about one week after classes started. Until that date the firms aren't allowed to solicit students but there are a couple of events that you can attend if you've displayed interest in the firms. It's totally unnecessary though. I wouldn't suggest that anyone start networking before classes start. Orientation through that first week on campus are spent learning about the process, fine tuning your resume and learning informally about the first and how to crop circle/etc. Networking too early can actually be a big disadvantage; if you release your resume to a firm before its' been formally vetted by your programs process its hard to get it back. I thought my resume read well going in to school, it went through 12 drafts and was completely rewritten when I had finished.

Once recruiting opens, the first two or three weeks are spent at big, open house type affairs that are all om campus. We kicked off with a big info fair where every firm was present and then each major firm had an evening affair. You would just sign up and go to network. The biggest recruiters tend to go first and it snowballs from there. If you're targeting consulting I 100% suggest that you attend all of these events. If you miss these and decide to recruit later, that's OK too (unlike banking, where you really can't miss anything).

At these events you'll usually see a few people from every major US office. Find the one you want and cultivate 2-3 connections while you're there to follow up with. Send an introductory email within 24 hours and ask for a follow up call. Make sure every call and interaction has a purpose - i.e. end your first call with an ask to be introduced to someone in a practice area you're interested in, with a similar background, etc.

Those two or three weeks are one of the busiest parts of recruiting. While this is going on, most of the case competitions are kicking off and the firms will also start releasing coffee chat schedules (at M7, you just sign up for your coffee chats, you don't need to be invited). These coffee chats may be on or off campus. Go to one (only one) for each firm rep; the point is to introduce yourself and get your name forwarded to more appropriate contacts. These might be one-on-one or group chats.

Each firm has a dedicated campus rep, which may or may not be someone in HR. The big 3 all have an HR rep in addition to a full time consultant who is dedicated to your school, and this is pretty much their project. Get to know that person well. Both them and the HR rep are there to help make introductions to other people at the firm, so don't be afraid to use the as a resource. Save your stupid questions for second year students who interned/worked at the firms before school and try to be a little more interesting than "What's work life balance like" as you're talking to these people.

The case competitions are their own animal. Try to do as many as you can without taking on too much. These take up a lot of time. Regardless of what the firms say, these are 100% evaluative. They're looking for top teams (winning teams get offers typically) and top performers on the other teams - including how well you appear to work with others.

The firms will continue to host events until resume drops. After those 2-3 weeks, there will still be open invite type stuff but closed lists will also start to come out. These events are off campus, usually things like bowling, bar nights, etc. The firms will host a dinner for prospective candidates shortly before resume drops as well.

This process is pretty standardized. Generally, show up, make a few connections, follow up, repeat. You don't need to be the best at this, you just need to check the boxes.

In terms of number of events, it's variable. You want to have talked to half a dozen people with each firm or so and make sure they know you by name by the end of the process. Again, don't be a hero and try to double or triple that number. You don't need to be the try-hard, just check the box. If you've done this part to expectation it comes down to your resume and GMAT for interview invites.

It's usually mostly the same people that you talk to, because you're targeting a specific office with a specific firm and they usually put alumni from your school in front of you. So even if there's 200 people in the office, there are probably 5-15 from your program.

After resume drops (before winter break), networking essentially ceases for a little bit while the firms put together their closed lists. There will be some scattered events before closed lists are released which are designed to give firms a look at people they don't feel like they know well enough. It's fine if you're not invited to these, they're designed for those that might have slipped through the networking process or that the firms are on the fence about. The firms also host case workshops. These you need to go to, and they are evaluative (again, the firms will tell you otherwise...).

Once closed lists are out, most firms host celebratory events. You should go to these, but at this point the tone is a little more informal and relaxed. The consultants might come out and slam some shots. Networking then ends through interviews. All told, you'll probably attend around ~5 events for each MBB through recruiting (more if you get an offer, but that's different) and have 1-3 formal chats each with around 6-10 people in your target office. These numbers are about the same for tier 2 and a little less for the other firms with smaller budgets/hiring needs. It's almost more important to make the events for the smaller firms though. A boutique might only hire 1-3 people and they're only interested in the people that have given them the most love; if you missed an event for Bain, they're not going to care as much.

You should thank your interviewers and ask for feedback from each firm you interview from. At this point you'll have an offer at a firm you like for full time, one from a firm you plan to re-recruit from, or won't have one. Once interviews end, networking is over for year one. If you have a few people that have been especially helpful to you, reach out and let them know that you appreciated them and where you're going for the summer. Otherwise, stop bothering people until the fall.

Second Year (Full-Time Recruiting)
The fall is also structured. Recruiting begins a few weeks before class starts (but similarly structured - the events will be posted by the school as you get close). The thought process is the same - attend the events, meet a few people, etc. If you recruited in year one, you're mostly going to just rekindle your old connections so you don't really need to go to the informational stuff. Year 2 recruiting is really more resume based too, the networking is a much smaller part of it. I went to maybe 5 events for second year recruiting.

At the end of the day, it's all a bit of a crapshoot. You have to check the boxes for the networking but it doesn't mean everything. Your case performance and "fit" is 90+% of what matters once final rounds come. For example. I had one tier 2 firm I never attended an event for in the fall that invited me to interview regardless (and didn't invite friends of mine who did attend everything). I did a case competition for another Tier 2 and never made it onto an event list for them after that. My teammates all attended every event and were invited to everything. We all ended up getting interviews. I was the only one of the group to get a final round.

As an aside, many of the firms will ask your classmates who have worked for/interned with them in the past for feedback on you. It's not really discussed and I wouldn't making sucking up to your peers part of your strategy. But I would keep that in mind.

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Jul 11, 2017

I have been following your consistently excellent posts for quite a while, glad you are doing fine and thank you for the AMA.

I'll begin working at a T2 consulting firm in September and would like to know how to prepare for the job? (I just came back from one-month long vacations after finishing my undergrad and have no prior consulting experience, though I minored in business.)

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Jul 10, 2017

Congrats! I really wouldn't worry too much about preparing ahead of time. Enjoy the time off. Your firm will put you through training and you'll learn from your peers how to develop most of the content you'll be preparing.

If you don't have excel/powerpoint experience, a class can be helpful (try to start learning some keyboard shortcuts, especially in powerpoint). I wouldn't overly worry about it though.

When you start, the most important things people will be looking for in you are:
1. Positive attitude. Do you work hard with a smile on your face? Do you complain when it's crunch time and you need to pull extra hours? Are you pleasant to work with?
2. Work ethic. Can you be counted on to be a workhorse when needed? Do you need to be told what to do, or do you identify where you should be working next? Are you putting in the extra hours to learn the things you need to do in order to be the best at your job?
3. Efficiency/Communication/Accuracy. Do you follow up when you get emails, do you ask for timelines or suggest them when appropriate? Do you prioritize your work or ask for someone to prioritize your tasks when you're unsure? Are you prompt in completing tasks and following up? Do you highlight what parts of your analysis stand out, where data fits what you expected and where it was out of line? What you think was most important/what takeaways are? Do you suggest additional analysis where necessary? Don't underestimated communication in this. You can be the best consultant in the world but if your manager doesn't feel comfortable that you're on track it can undermine you in other ways (and communication is the best solution to this).

Notice very little of that involves you being a genius consultant. That can come in time.

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Jul 11, 2017

Legit question: What did you think of your time spent in hospitality having gone through it and now working where you are now? I always get the feeling at the best hotels the staff are similar to ducks treading water...the appearance that everything is calm on the surface while they're frantically kicking their feet behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.

Jul 10, 2017

Luxury hospitality is a fascinating industry and I loved working there. I learned a lot regarding emotional intelligence and how to keep people happy that served me well in pwm and beyond.

Bear in mind that luxury hospitality management has some similarities to IB - the best career path is in front office (managing the front of house services), the hours are brutal (worse than most IB jobs for entry level managers, I was working ~80 hours but flipping overnight and day shifts), egos are big and you have to do a lot of people pleasing/bullshit work. All for under $50k for most entry level managers.

A good team in hospitality can be incredibly efficient. There is always a little of that treading water aspect in that there might be 15+ guest requests going on at once and you don't want to drop the ball on any of them. Teams need to be flexible, communicate very well and everyone needs to have good work ethic and take ownership. At the same time, the people attracted to these jobs tend to take a lot of pride in what they do so that's usually obtainable. Treading water becomes the norm, it's not necessarily a negative, more of the environment that motivated people can thrive in.

There are also unbelievable perks to being in the industry if you like going out to bars/clubs/restaurants and travelling. You get to live a lifestyle well above your income.

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Jul 12, 2017

First off, congratulations on an amazing journey and your admittance to Booth. Truly remarkable.
How old are you going into your MBA?

Jul 10, 2017

I was a little over 30 entering my MBA program.

Jul 13, 2017

@BreakingOutOfPWM Thank you for doing this. Your story is inspiring.

I don't mean to be rude, but why do you think you did not get an offer from MBB? I'm asking even if I manage to get into a top B school, will my less than stellar past experiences effectively keep from getting an opportunity at MBB?

Best Response
Jul 10, 2017

I'm going to take this question from a couple of angles.

First, on your potential - if you get in to an M7 b-school, you will have the opportunity to interface with any consulting firm you want. Everyone targets MBB, of course. But the fact that I had an open door with every firm was all I could have asked for. Getting to interview with every firm was even better. Additionally, top schools allow you to bid auction style for interviews with top firms. So even if BCG, for example, doesn't extend you an invite, you can spend your auction points there to get an interview anyways (and it doesn't count against you). I don't know of anyone who recruited for consulting that didn't have at least a half dozen interviews with good firms. There are plenty of people who don't get offers but very few who have no opportunities. You will absolutely have an equal seat at the table at the start of the process.

Long story short, no, you're not guaranteed a job at MBB at a lot of people won't get them. Same for T2. But you'll have a fair look everywhere. If you're at UNC, you'd better believe McKinsey isn't going to let you stroll in and put your name on a consultants calendar. That advantage recruiting at an M7 is a big differentiater. If that's not enough for you, then you should evaluate taking the risk.

Second, on why I didn't get an MBB offer - one of the three firms was never a good fit. I could feel it, they could feel it, it's fine. I would have taken an offer there if I got one, but in hindsight it would have been a mistake. I also found that I struggle a little bit doing cases in interviews. I get a little nervous. It's interesting, I was probably one of the best casers in my class (based on feedback from peers and firms during prep cases) but when the actual interview came I think I was putting myself under too much pressure.

That being said, there is absolutely variability in the process. The talent pool is just too big. It's like b-school apps. There are hundreds of people or more who apply to M7's that don't get into any school who are absolutely qualified to attend, but there aren't enough seats. Consulting recruiting is the same. There are too many qualified applicants for MBB and Tier 2; there will be plenty of solid candidates that end up at lower firms or not getting an offer. Part of this is that the overall class is going to be incredibly qualified. There are a core group of candidates that are clearly going to land at the top firms and who get multiple offers, but probably half of people that go to MBB are the same quality as those that land at Tier 2's. It's sort of widely recognized that most if not all of the people who get T2 offers are probably as good as a good chunk of the MBB talent pool.

Third - on MBB in general. There are a lot more people in b-school trying to become career consultants than out of undergrad. Plenty still want the 2 year resume stamp but a lot of us have partner aspirations. If you're really interested in consulting, there's not that much difference between MBB and their top competitors. Experienced consultants at MBB will laugh in your face if you refer to an ATK, Deloitte, Strat& etc as a lower tier firm. It's just not how most of them view the industry, when these firms are competing for the same work at the same companies. There's a lot of lateral activity over the years between these firms too with the long term consultants. With one T2 team I interviewed with, we had a manager who came from MBB and a partner who came from a competing T2. At an MBB I interviewed with, I interviewed first with a partner who came from a T2 and another senior consultant who came from a small growth strategy firm. There's a lot of flow in talent between the top firms. Compensation is pretty close for a while too. A top partner at MBB will make more than most top partners at T2, but I bet top partners at T2 make more than average partners at MBB. There are some better perks at MBB, but I care more about the impact of my work than the size of my limo. Sure, I'll take another swing in 12-18 months if I want to stay in consulting, but I feel very comfortable with the career path ahead of me.

With that being said, going in to business school with the "MBB or Bust" mentality doesn't really make sense, and sets a lot of people up for disappointment. If you're unhappy making $180k year one at AT Kearney just because you can't carry around a BCG umbrella I'd reevaluate why you're targeting consulting in the first place.

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Jul 13, 2017

Thank you. Understood.

Jul 18, 2017

"If you're really interested in consulting, there's not that much difference between MBB and their top competitors. Experienced consultants at MBB will laugh in your face if you refer to an ATK, Deloitte, Strat& etc as a lower tier firm. It's just not how most of them view the industry, when these firms are competing for the same work at the same companies."

I very much disagree with this. If anything, I would argue that the difference between firms matters a lot more if you're looking to make partner. MBB charges much higher fees, so there's way more earning potential as an MBB partner vs. being a partner at a 2nd-tier firm. Promotion rates are much faster at MBB for the same reason. Lower fees means you have to run leaner. How do you run leaner? By hiring more junior folks and not promoting them as quickly.

You could not be more wrong when you say that compensation is comparable for a while. It's pretty close for about 2 years. At the manager level and above, the paths start to very significantly diverge.

If you're looking to exit in 2 years, that's when it honestly doesn't matter that much because you'll build the same core skillset, and for a lot of roles out there, the prestige bump doesn't really matter. And for some particular industries/capabilities, second-tier firms are actually better (i.e. if you really want to work in Supply Chain, ATK is probably a better place to be than Bain).

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Jul 31, 2017

There are a core group of candidates that are clearly going to land at the top firms and who get multiple offers

What is it about those candidates that makes them stand out -- is it prior work experience, people skills, all of the above, and how do they go about actually landing all those offers?

Jul 14, 2017

Congratulations on your transition to an absolute shit industry (I work in the same tier as well, in which I would not include DLT unless you're aligned to Monitor) - also, if your offer is at Strategy& that is now a T3 firm based on the brain drain in the past 18 months. Nobody wants to touch the firm anymore, talent nor clients.

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Jul 10, 2017

Your willingness to create a new account solely to post an anonymous opinion on your disillusioned industry experience is much appreciated. It's also noted that you're still employed in consulting, so thanks for confirming that it's probably better than being somewhere else

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Jul 17, 2017

Thanks for sharing the story, currently coming up on my junior year at my "second-chance" school so this resonates with me. How was your GPA when you graduated from the state-school? What did you end up majoring in? Thanks again for sharing

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Jul 10, 2017

I received my BSBA, but the coursework was very weak so the business degree wouldn't carry much weight. I graduated magna cum laude from my second school, which for us was a GPA range of I believe 3.5-3.74.

Best of luck. You might see some bumps in the road, but just take it won't step at a time.

Jul 18, 2017

As you stated you did not get a scholarship. How did you afford school and do you feel the amount spent was worth it?

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Jul 10, 2017

Student loans. And based on the tone of my posts, you could probably infer yes. I've already alluded to changes in my comp/lifestyle and that I landed a solid role in my target industry, so I checked the boxes I expected to coming in to school. Even with a 6-7 year loan payoff schedule I'll have more disposable income than before school. And less time to use it, so fewer wasted bar nights!

I've also personally developed a lot - I found that I've changed my teamwork/leadership style, am much more analytical and am more comfortable using data to solve problems. The network of friends I've developed has surpassed all expectations.

Everyone's situation was different. Being over 30, I decided that if I didn't get in to an M7, I'd consider a T15 with scholarship and if I didn't get what I was looking for, I'd go part time at my region's best non T15 school and have my company help foot the bill. I had a few full rides offered from T20-50 schools (that I didn't apply to - thanks GMAC) and never considered them.

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Jul 18, 2017

Thank you! Just applied for my student loans for Booth and the cost really started to hit me. This definitely gives me hope

Jul 18, 2017

Great story, but a quick question. How did you break into pwm with an average GPA, graduating from a non-ivy league school, and only a few years job experience in hospitality? What skill sets did you build, how'd you get an interview, etc... Eager to hear more Thanks!

Jul 10, 2017

Funny you ask. This actually came up a lot in my consulting interviews. First, I'll start by saying that an ivy league/comparable education is by no means a requirement in pwm. You see plenty of these folks around but firms look for motivated, smart people with good relationship skills regardless of whether you have a top degree. I was at a top 10 firm, but it also wasn't GS or JPM, I probably wouldn't have gotten interviews there.

I applied to over 70 jobs after undergrad with no concept of how to network (i.e. was mostly resume dropping) and had no interviews. A close friend who worked at my future pwm shop offered to pass along my resume to a manager that was hiring, gave me a strong verbal recommendation and it led to my only finance interview. I was managing a staff of 20 at the time and was pitching my experience working in customer service (the clients of the hotel are the same types you see in pwm). So it seemed somewhat relevant to me, and I tried to make that clear during the interview.

I had worked an 18 hour overnight shift the night before my interview and directly. I stifled a yawn at one point and my future boss asked if I was bored. Embarrassed, I explained that I come directly from the long overnight shift, which in hindsight I think had positive impact. This manager told me later that I impressed him with my ability to quickly build rapport between two people and he could easily see me in the room with clients, even if I didn't know anything about finance yet. I interviewed with three more of his senior managers that day.

They didn't extend me an offer (there was another candidate with relevant experience). However, the manager did refer me to a similar group that was hiring. A month later I interviewed and I impressed them as well with the same qualities, but they also ultimately chose another candidate. I stayed in touch with the original manager over the next 6 months or so. Another position was ultimately posted, I reached out to the original hiring manager to ask if they knew who I could talk to about the role. Turns out that the person they had originally hired in lieu of me was no longer with the firm, the role was for this manager's team supporting them directly and they extended a verbal offer to join them over the phone on that call.

I knew nada about finance and didn't try to pretend that I did, nor did I imply I wanted to be a portfolio manager one day. I expressed enthusiasm for joining a more challenging and technical career than the one I was leaving behind and a deep passion for working with clients (both of which are true). I am very good face to face in client engagements and have a knack for explaining concepts to others which came across in the interview. I don't think my approach here is one that should be mimic'd. I was really just young and uninformed, I could have gone about it much better. I've written of the disadvantages people have coming from lower/mid middle class backgrounds and this was one of them; I had zero people in my network who could guide me in how to handle these interactions. At the end of the day, I think it more likely that my future boss was just personally moved by my drive and passion for wanting to join the team in addition to how professionally I handled all of our interactions.

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Jul 20, 2017

Such a great story, so motivating. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on making it to the top!

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Jul 11, 2017

You seem to be a really motivated person, which is something I really admire. How do you motivate yourself to keep doing the hard work? How do you set your goals and how do you approach achieving them?

Jul 21, 2017

Although I'm not the original poster, I'll just add my 2 cents. Usually really motivated people don't need external "motivation" to keep hard work. In one of his post, he said consulting was his 7 year dream, which is a strong inner desire, translating to his strong work ethic. Basically, if you want something badly enough, you are going to be motivated and work for it.

For setting goals and achieving them, planning out small steps of check-list while in the big picture staying in the track. This prevents burnouts or loss of motivation from a goal that's too big to handle. Hope this helps.

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Aug 2, 2017

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Aug 2, 2017

Hmm, since I got monkey shit I guess I wasnt supposed to ask these type of questions. I am sorry everyone if I am not familiar with the forum/internet etiquette.

Jul 10, 2017

It didn't come from me. However, I'm probably not the best person to answer your question. As you can tell from my post, I came from a much different undergraduate background with a different path. I'd consider starting your own thread.

Aug 2, 2017

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read my post. I did not want to create a new topic because these type of topics are dime a dozen.

When I read your post I started wondering if you had an idea of the importance of each of these factors(GPA, WE, EC) for undergrads. But in hindsight maybe it was a bit far fetch.

Anyways, thanks for your reply. I will think about starting my own thread.

Oct 26, 2017

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Jul 10, 2017

Q49 is more than fine for consulting. If you are 730+ they don't care about the mix. Most firms don't even ask for the split. Your GMAT and GPA are both fine, you're floating the median, those didn't hinder you.

You check all the boxes for business school, which you probably know. What you're lacking is anything that makes you interesting or sets you apart from the rest of the generally qualified pool. I don't see anything that sets you apart from your peers nor anything interesting about your career progression and goals. I'm sure its there, but it doesn't come across here and I bet it didn't in your apps either.

Additionally, your story of IM to IM probably didn't really sell why you needed an MBA.

IM to consulting rather than IM to IM helps tell the Why MBA? story. But my guess is that your storytelling in particular is lacking. I don't usually suggest this, but you should consider hiring an admissions consultant to help you with your essays and crafting a persona.

Both of those roles sound interesting. I don't think WE is your major issue, if you landed a ton of interviews at top 10 schools. However - the brand name will help boost your resume, while the internal role helps tell the consulting story. I'd lean towards the brand name, but (again) you'll have to work on how that weaves in to your consulting aspirations from a storytelling perspective. Does your firm ever place at top MBA's? If so, the internal role could work; if not, I'd jump ship.

Consulting firms and business schools care about both the brand name and the quality of the experience - the first is helpful, the second is necessary. Working for a brand name checks a box immediately in people's minds, because they have a sense of what type of person/attributes are needed to work at a brand name, while a no name firm is a wild card in terms of talent. But once you check that box, they then look at your experience to see how you performed compared to your peers. A brand name means that they can comfortably gauge you against others in your general pool (i.e. they know how to compare people from BCG and Bain because they know that the challenges are similar at both firms); if you're coming from a no-name, you need to do a lot of storytelling and provide some hard data for them to be able to tell how that no-name fits into the general industry. Again, this screams hire a consultant.

Any chance that your recommenders undersold (or undercut) you? How much guidance did you give them and have you seen their letters? They might not be aware of the tone that business school letters should take - most professional letters of recommendation take a neutral and professional tone, while b-school letters should be overly enthusiastic and help the schools quantify how you rank vs your peers.

Finally, its telling that you were dinged after interviews, not before. Do you come off as arrogant? Nervous? Were you prepared for the Why This School/Why Consulting/Why MBA/Why Now types of questions? This is another area a consultant can help provide feedback in.

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Oct 26, 2017

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Jul 13, 2017

@BreakingOutOfPWM

Hi, coming back to this thread. Is safety a concern for Booth students? With everything you read about Chicago/and where Booth is located, it does make me think as I narrow down my application list.

Thanks again.

Jul 10, 2017

We're now issued bullet proof vests at orientation. And our school is aiming to recruit 80% of the class of 2020 from the military just in case. So you should be fine.

Just kidding. I've lived in four major US cities (Chicago, NYC, Boston, DC). I feel as safe in Chicago as I would have going to school in any of those other places. Bear in mind we all live downtown. Nobody is walking through campus at 2 AM. Our late night work is all downtown too.

The campus itself is surrounded by some shady neighborhoods but the school itself and the part of hyde park its in are gorgeous. It should be telling that the majority of parents that come to Booth opt to move their families into Hyde Park rather than downtown. It's a nice area. You just don't go six blocks south of campus. But there's no reason to anyways.

Finally, the school has something like the largest police force outside of the Vatican. They patrol a large part of the surrounding neighborhoods. This is part of the reason the campus is isolated from the issues to the south and west.

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Aug 23, 2017

How much (%) does the first year of an MBA overlap with CFA Level 1 (and 2 and 3)?

Jul 10, 2017

It depends. From a content standpoint, potentially quite a lot (your first class or two in stats, finance, accounting, economics, will naturally see a lot of overlap and management/behavioral classes will see overlap with the level III curriculum).

If you're at a program that requires you to slog through these courses than you won't be seeing a lot of new content.

Having attended Booth, I'd say that 5% of my curriculum overlapped in a way that I felt was redundant. The context and direction of discussions even around the same material is much different in business school that in studying for the test. I.e. building a model in excel and discussing both the viability of the inputs and implications of the output vs learning exactly how each part of the financials is affected by something. I found that my CFA experience largely enhanced my MBA studies rather than detracting from it, in that I better understood the basics and so I could push myself on the big picture for problems. Happy to discuss further if you're going through this debate.

I'd say as you go down the rankings, they probably feel more similar. !t top schools, the lecture time spent on actually getting the nuts and bolts is quite short, since they expect most people to have learned the readings on their own (and folks do). In fact, in many of our courses at Booth the textbooks were optional. There were multiple finance and accounting courses where I purchased the supplemental readings but didn't buy a textbook; part of the reason was my CFA experiences (the other part being the plethora of other resources available to learn content when needed).

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Sep 19, 2017
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