Boeing-NASA System Integration or Accenture Consulting Analyst

Booker's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

Hi there,

It's time for me to make some tough decision for my career.

I have gotten a job with Boeing as a System Integration Engineer to work on the NASA space station project. Also, I made it to the 3rd round interview for Accenture entry-level consulting analyst position (either IT or Management depends on my interviews with the executives). I am 99% sure that i will get the job with Accenture. About compensation, Boeing broke over the ceiling this year and offered about $15k higher than typical entry level consulting job.

My target in the next 5yrs is to get a good MBA and transition into Management (either in an executive path at a corporate or in an associate level at MBB). I mention management here as the kind of jobs in which I would take on higher responsibility to lead projects and manage people strategically on the macro scale. I love true human communication and enjoy dealing with people much more than punching numbers. Don't get me wrong here; i was trained as an engineer and am very comfortable with data scrutiny and processing. But my passion in life is to become an influential and accomplished person that is capable of inspiring people with my work and my taking charge of my life. So, a job that involves strategic planning and human management fits better with my interest and my purpose of life.

I graduated with an M.S. from hardcore engineering schools in the West. However, I have to be realistic that my chance getting into HBS is slim since i may not be able to establish a network with HBS graduates while working at Boeing or Accenture. So, my B-School targets are Stanford GSB, Berkeley Hass, MIT Sloan, Kellog, Chicago Booth, Columbia, and Tuck.

With that said, I would love to hear your opinions on which job I should go with and what is my chance of getting into the above MBA program with that job?

Thank you!

Comments (15)

Nov 17, 2012

I don't know a ton about engineering, and the MBAs reviewing your resume during applications will, but the BA-NASA job sounds more impressive than a sub MBB consulting gig. Is that the sense you get, is this highly coveted among engineers?

Engineers get into top b-schools, and those that do come from places like Google, Facebook, and NASA. Accenture can place well, but I'd lean towards the BA-NASA offer. Do you want to work in management at an aerospace or engineering firm post MBA? If yes, I'd say that's the deal breaker towards the BA-NASA offer, easy.

Nov 17, 2012

@RiskyBizness, as you may sense, there is absolutely an X factor in the Boeing job that is unmatched by Accenture's. What I am considering is that Accenture would get me to experience some sort of management in my first 2yrs while Boeing is more about hardcore engineering. I spoke to some senior managers (not executives) at Boeing, and only a few of them got an MBA, mostly part time and from lower tier regional schools. No doubt that they love and enjoy their jobs, but i feel somehow that throughout their whole time at Boeing, they lack of aspiration or ambition of a young graduate with high self esteem like me. I wonder how it is like at Accenture since I haven't spoken to many of them?

Nov 17, 2012

NASA you say? Where are the astronaut applications?

Nov 17, 2012

So on one job you will be designing badass super high-tech toys to let humanity explore the infinity of space, and on the other you will be helping back office IT guys install SAP on their PCs. The first gig also has higher pay, probably better hours, better job security and brand recognition, and you already have their offer... Jeez, that's one tough choice to make.

Nov 17, 2012

Thanks Andres for your comment. About brand perception, it is clear that the Boeing job far exceeds the Accenture management consulting position. However, I am still hesitant because those people at Boeing are very engineering-focused, not as much business-minded as I am. So far I have seen that many qualified engineers at Boeing tend to apply for PhD programs over MBA's after 2 or 3 years. I realize that while I can work comfortably on engineering duties, it is not the environment where I can excel the most. With lack of MBA networking at Boeing, it may affect my chance getting into a top MBA program. My knowledge about Accenture Management Consulting is limited, so I raise the question here about its style and its placement to top MBA to ask for people's experience. Will it be simply help client install SAP or Oracle?

Nov 17, 2012

Few things:
- NASA lost relevance decades ago
- NASA still runs 70s technology as far as computers go
- It's still system integration
- NASA is cutting budget. Boeing contractor role is not very safe
- I had a friend who did system integration for Northrop working on one of the F-whatever jet program. Sounded cool, but he hated it and jumped to Deloitte's Tech consulting things recently
- When he was at NG, it was very hard to go somewhere else from there, got pigeonholed soon (Defense)
Got a part time MBA from some Top 50 type state school cause NG paid for it and got nothing out of it
- Try to get ACN MC if you can. SI is not that sexy as you know it, but many people go to Top 10-15 MBAs from there

Nov 17, 2012

It sounds like a big part of your reluctance is due to the apparent typical career path of the guys you see at BA-NASA. But as what some of what you said hinted at, it sounds like that is of their own doing. They wanted to continue on as engineers or work within the firm as management. Why bother perfecting their essays and getting an extra 20-60 points on the GMAT if you can get a paid local program?

But just because they did that doesn't mean that's what your options are limited to. I'll put it this way: I work at a BB in banking, and I would assume the engineer at BA-NASA was smarter than me. On the other hand, I would assume I could outperform a guy coming from Accenture. That's my perception, and perception is not reality. But I think my view is mainstream.

Final point: the lack of people with management ambitions in the BA-NASA gig leaves you fewer competitors in your quest to have an engineer/leader resume. If you start the gig knowing you want to end up with a resume tailored for a top MBA, I think you'll be able to steer your way into that just fine.

Nov 18, 2012

Dude from what I have seen a lot of top MBA programs like to have engineers in their programs.

Nov 18, 2012

@abacab, your point about Northrop is exactly what I have sensed so far at Boeing. At Boeing, I would say among people who decide to pursue an MBA, 70% would choose to go to a part time program at a local school (UW) or an online program (Phoenix, my direct supervisor in this case). The other 20% would choose a full time program at more wellknown schools such as UCLA Anderson or Berkeley Hass and end up leaving for other industries, mostly consulting or technology. As @riskybizness mentioned, i can still leverage my experience and brand name regconition of Boeing to position myself to a top MBA program. But, I wonder if I wouldi have a higher chance to be accepted to a top MBA program if I start as a consultant at Accenture? Any assessment? Is it more like who you know, not what you do for top programs?

Nov 18, 2012

This thread is a symptom of the decline of (western) civilization. Are you kidding me? I wish I could be an engineer, but never did well in Math.

Why would you give up being a rocket scientist to do a sub-par consulting gig? Even if you aim is to get into a top B Schoool, and even if you got a MBB gig, consultants applying to B School are a dime and dozen. Rocket scientists, not so much.

This is a no brainer.

Nov 18, 2012

Don't stop just after Boeing-NASA, it's still has 'System Integration' added. This job is not to design the next Mars Rover or whatever. You are basically integrating/testing a system which is not that different than IT integration.

I was a EE (with even MS) and after my first internship with a well known aerospace company that makes all the electronics that go in a plane I ran as far away as possible for several reasons:
- We (interns) were the 7 out of 10 people under age of 35 in the whole Engineering department
- Most new hires did testing for 2-3 years before even joining the design team
- You only move up when someone dies or something
- The guy who leads the design team (or any team) has 20+ years of experience
- They kind of worked on the same product for last 10 years and will continue doing so for next 10
- As a data point, the only intern who went back for full time got his part time MBA from Tufts or something (probably long distance cause the company is nowhere close to it)

Your question should be more along the line of decide what you want, engineer or IT/MC consultant? If it's engineer, just find people who did that and went to top MBA and see what path they took. Also keep in mind that if you go somewhere where no one understands the value of top MBA, they can't support you as much (whether shaping the role or giving the recommendation, might be the first time writing one). Kind of similar to one of my friend's dad, who is an engineer at Navy and wondered why I am going to a Top 10 MBA when all his friends who did part time directional MBA didn't get anything out of it.

Nov 18, 2012

You won't be getting any "Management" experience really in your first few years consulting anyway. Mostly number crunching, report editing, and gathering data.

I'm at PwC, and I would (as someone stated above) just expect an Engineer from Boeing-Nasa to be "smarter" than me. Also, a hands on Engineer who adds an MBA is an incredibly powerful combination. Honestly, people who come from industry have more credibility with a lot of clients too.


Nov 19, 2012

Hey Booker,

Let me tell you first that from your first post, you and I share very similar career aspirations. Academically, I have again a similar background as you. I may be a few years down the line from you, as I worked as an engineer for a handful of years before going into consulting. Here is what I can tell you:

  • Although my engineering gig wasn't in the aerospace / NASA / Boeing territory, my experience has been eerily identical to abacab. (See his bullet points above) Many of his points are the reason why I got out.
  • TylerT is right, and early years in your Accenture job may not offer you that much business acumen, and you will be stuck gathering data / creating reports and presentations. However, I still think you'll get decent exposure to what you described as some of the things you are seeking in consulting, compared to engineering.

I think the big question is this: Do you want to stay in the aerospace industry long-term? If that's the case, then you definitely need to go with the offer you secured already. You can spend several years over there, and if you choose to pursue a full-time MBA sometime in the future, you will be in a really good position. The consulting position will offer you a lot more flexibility in terms of your functional role and the industry exposure, almost immediately. If you are not particularly passionate about the systems integration disciplines or the Boeing/NASA industry, it will be a good opportunity to widen your net and figure out what you really want to do long-term.

Nov 20, 2012

Very insightful comments here. Goes to show how ridiculous it is when people say "OMG NASA PRESTIGE SOUNDS BADASS ROCKETRYYY" instead of actually thinking it through.

I don't have experience to give advice, but I will say that you should consider what your job will be like on a daily basis, because when everything dies down and you're in month 8, how are you going to feel waking up every day and devoting over half your life to this? Exit options or not, the only guarantee is now, so live in the now and what's best for you now. Good luck, and keep us updated.

Nov 21, 2012
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