Backup Careers in case one doesn't get into consulting?

manoftroy909's picture
Rank: Monkey | 40

Hi,

I was wondering what possible backup careers are possible to those that don't get into a top management consulting firm? Although I'm a senior, I'm planning on going to Michigan or USC and getting a double degree in economics and accounting, so what can I do if I don't get into McKinsey?

Obviously I can do accounting, but I'm not sure (and correct me if I'm wrong) if one can make 6 figures in accounting. I'd like to make between 120-150k, and I'm just not sure if thats possible.

So, my other question is, would it be possible to work at a big 4 accounting firm, go to a top MBA, and then move into management consulting or what? I'm pretty sure consulting is my dream job (unless accounting makes 120k), so could I at least then transition to a mid-high level firm thats not necesarily BCG or Bain, but not a terrible firm as well?

Comments (30)

Aug 5, 2007

you're still young and got time. you can make millions doing whatever you want, dont choose a career for the money. Besides, going to BCG or Bain instead of McKinsey wouldn't be the end of the world. Even BAH is a good firm.

Aug 5, 2007

well yeah, but still. I'm just wondering how I would fare if I go to a non-top of the line consulting firm like BCG, McKinsey, Bain, Booz Allen, and any other of those big name "bulge bracket" (I'm using the term losely because there is no bulge bracket for consulting, but I'm talking about those same consulting firms that are as prestigious as those bulge bracket investment banks) of consulting firms. I'm talking more about midsized "boutique" type consulting firms.

Aug 5, 2007

The salary that you make while you're 21/22/23 should not be a significant factor in your decision. And if you're questioning your ability to make it into M/B/B before you've even started you are already behind the pack. Sure having an extra 20-30K in the bank would be cool but you start making real money later in your career.

PS: Partners at Big 4's bring in around 500K I'm pretty sure.

Aug 5, 2007

Accounting doesn't pay as much as consulting and IB, but it's not too bad. You can definitely reach 6 figures as a Big 4 CPA (probably manager or senior manager level I think). Partners probably get mid-6 figures. You just won't be making it as fast as your friends in the other two fields.

Consulting is a broad term. You can do it anywhere, for any firm. M/B/B are not the only ways to do consulting. You just have to do some searching.

Aug 5, 2007

Michigan doesn't offer an undergrad accounting degree. Accounting can make 120k+, but if you're only interested in money why aren't you looking into investment banking?

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Aug 5, 2007

By the way, some consulting firms are known to pay more than the M/B/B firms.

Aug 5, 2007

the profession is full of people who were either not ambitious or smart enough to get into IB or top consulting. I think the threshold for making $100k or more is the manager level, which is about 5 years down the line - big 4 is horrible in terms of promoting on achivement.

I'd also look into some of the premier boutiques - check out the "consulting magazines" website - don't remember the url so just google it...

Aug 5, 2007

while it's true that M/B/B is a great stepping stone to a top MBA...it is by far not the only route. In some other thread, you mentioned that you like IT. I personally know people with IT background who got into top MBA's. It's doable...just do what you really like. Things will take care of themselves.

Also if you are in consulting just for money, you'll hate it.

Aug 5, 2007

Yeah, judging by your posts, it just seems like all you're doing is targeting a specific salary range. Don't chase the money. Let it come to you as you do what you want to do.

Aug 6, 2007

Getting in to a top MBA from an IT background is pretty damn hard, don't go into IT if you plan on getting an MBA. And yeah I think a few of the boutiques/other firms pay better than MBB (LEK and MOW come to mind).

McKinsey is the top but Bain and BCG are essentially equivalent; it is like hashing between Goldman sachs and morgan stanley/merrill lynch. All are fine firms and at that point it matters more about your individual performance than your firm name.

Aug 6, 2007

Well how hard is it to get into those types of boutique firms? Its not just about pay, I just really want to like I said be able to get into that salary range preferably through consulting. I looked into trading and I think asked a question or so there, but after searching, it didn't appeal to me. So I'd really like to get in that salary range for consulting, and I'd like to know how competitive/what are backup plans in case that fails.

Btw, allow me to clear up a couple of misconceptions:

  1. I'm not totally in consulting for the money. True, they do make a pretty penny, but seriously, the idea of working with a team, and helping people (after all, I did once consider being a doctor), and some traveling along the way really does appeal to me. The 60 hour weeks kinda suck, but I assure you that I do like consulting so far from what my limited view of the world has given me thus far. Besides, I'm "only" asking for 150k because I know that I don't need much more than that (heck, 150k even might be an overkill for the style I want to live).
  2. Just because I'm looking for backup plans doesn't mean I'm a quitter. I will do everything I possibly can to land a job at one of the top firms, but the thing is that even those that get into harvard are far from guarenteed a spot at those top firms. Lets face it, there are some elements that are out of our control, and not everyone, no matter how smart/hard working lands these spots. So is it that unreasonable to ask what are some alternatives?
Aug 8, 2007

come on, someone please answer these questions! I don't want to be stuck with a low paying econ degree!

Aug 8, 2007

I'm an ex-accountant and I'm doing alright for myself - had to switch industries/roles a couple of times to get to where I am now though.

I firmly believe that a big 4 (big 6 when I started) background is an excellent start to a career in finance - certainly better than consulting in my opinion.

Aug 8, 2007

This doesn't exactly answer your question, but during fall recruiting last year, 2/3 of MBB were proactively recruiting for newer, smaller Canadian offices like Montreal and Calgary. If you've got ties to those places, that could be a tactical play.

Aug 8, 2007

Which school do you intend?

Aug 8, 2007

Ivey AMBA (accelerated MBA)

Aug 8, 2007

the problem w/ consulting is that after mbb, its a really steep drop in prestige/intellect. Places like accenture, ibm, navigant aren't really strategy consulting and are more outsourcing functions. At least w/ banking, the mm's and boutiques are still respectable/essentially the same experience if you don't go BB.

If he's an MBA student, I'm sure he still has a lot of recruiting opportunities. Tell your friend to post on the board himself!

Aug 8, 2007

there are several great consulting firms just below MBB: Monitor Group, Oliver wyman, Mars & Co, LEK, Booz & co to name a few

Aug 8, 2007

richochets list is solid. look at those firms.

Aug 8, 2007

Tell your friend to get back to recruiting. No consulting just because no MBB? Work two years somewhere else and lateral in.

Aug 8, 2007

Yeah, RicochetX's list is good. Once you go below the level of name recognition of a Monitor or Booz, though, be careful, as it becomes very hit-or-miss. There are no-name places that will dump crappy work on you, close some big exit opp doors, and not get you into a good b-school, and there are some absolutely no-name boutiques that do MBB-type work and get all their analysts into H/W/S. Monitor, Booz, Parthenon, etc. all speak for themselves, but if you can't get those and you come across a place you've never heard of, do some serious due diligence on what it's actually like.

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Aug 8, 2007

cmon are you serious....being rejected from M/B/BCG is not the end of the world...research the other consulting groups within your target industry etc. and keep going. If your getting interviews with M/B/BCG your going to get interviews at just about every other firm. Learn from your mistakes with those and move on.

Aug 8, 2007

you guys have got to be kidding me... there are a large number of consulting firms, many of those, even outside of MBB and those on ricochet's list, that are well represented at business schools. Obviously don't go to a shop with only 5 employees, but there are plenty of mid-tier firms that do just fine.

Aug 8, 2007

Where is ricochet's list? Am I missing something here, because I don't even see a ricochet?

Aug 8, 2007

yea considering it is a such a prestige driven industry, the prestige drop off is massive after those three. what is the 'game plan' per se at boutiques? keep in mind this would be a non-MBA grad student which is why i'm trying to help brainstorm ideas... cheers

Aug 8, 2007

Did ricochetX change his name to princeton2012?