Breaking into MBB?

I am currently a tax intern for a Big 4 firm. I have quickly found that this monotonous work is not for me. I don't go to a target school, but I do have a 3.8 GPA. Although for grad school purposes it's more like a 3.4-3.5 (I transferred from a community college). I am a Junior right now, and have debated transferring somewhere like McCombs (UT) or Cox (SMU) to get where I want to be. Although I heard SMU isn't exactly MBB material, so that may just be a waste.

In my shoes, would it be best to maintain a high GPA, finish out my accounting degree, and then apply to MBA programs and a few years of this dreadful experience? I feel like I should take action now before moving any further ahead, your thoughts?

- stuckinaccounting123

Comments (8)

Mar 11, 2014

There is a lot of consulting between Tax Advisory and MBB. Your resume is likely solid right now - nice GPA and a Big 4 internship. Why not just work hard to network your way into a Tier 2/3 consulting gig? Possibly even try to leverage your offer from Big 4 Tax to Big 4 Advisory (it's not sexy, but it's a lot better than tax...).

Leverage your contacts and alumni database and look for people at Accenture, Deloitte S&O, other Big 4 advisory, and any boutique firms that look interesting to you. You can throw MBB in there too while you're at it, but don't be deadset on it. I would think that you have the resume at this point to get a job, but coming from a non-target, you're going to have to do all the legwork yourself. Start now - you have six months before full time recruiting season. And while you're at it, start looking at case interviews.

I also assume that it's too late for you to transfer, so I wouldn't think about that.

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Mar 11, 2014

Thanks for your input. This is a great alternative that can leverage my current skillset. I like tax, but I hate compliance (preparing returns), I think I could see myself doing tax planning/consulting. What kind of salary/hours do the Tier 2/3 consulting firms offer?

Also, I'm not sure if I'll get a Big 4 offer right off the bat. I work in a very small dept of Big 4 Tax that specializes in individual returns for expats and inpats. They bring in interns and most of them don't get an offer right off the bat. Those who do don't get them until December of that year. I feel like this is a curse and a blessing for the following reasons; I don't want to do individual tax and there is not much room for growth in this department. The curse is that recruiters can look at this as a bad thing, interning with Big 4 and not getting an offer.

What's your take on this?

I'll start looking at those case interviews this weekend. Also, I'm using Coursera to take classes in finance that I am interested in that may be relevant for MBB or consulting altogether. Should I work this into my resume? I'm currently taking "Economics of Money and Banking" offered by Colombia by a professor named Perry Mehrling.

One more thing. If I took this route, would an MBA at a top 10 be something to consider? Given that I maintain my GPA and get high gmat scores. Is that expereince something that will attract those schools?

Sorry for the mess I just spewed out, haha. Once agian, thank you for taking the time to respond to this. I know these "How do I get into MBB" threads get annoying really quickly!

Mar 11, 2014

Will try to answer these piece by piece:

1. As for tax planning/consulting, don't the Big 4 offer that as some of their more regular tax service lines? You certainly already have the connections to work that angle if that's what you want to do.

2. I wouldn't worry too much about the Big 4 offer. You're in a special program (probably should have realized that given the time of year). Either way, good for you for taking the initiative to find that. Either way, you have a nice name on your resume to go recruit elsewhere. PwC Advisory will feel much better about your resume and givng you an interview from a non-target if it says "KPMG" on it already. You've already passed some sort of Big 4 test. Deloitte S&O will be much pickier, but still doable. I also don't see any issues with "not getting the offer" because you will likely be interviewing for a different function (Advisory/Consulting vs. Tax). Be able to speak to the positives of what you did/learned in Tax, and how that will translate to more general strategy/operations/process improvement consulting.

3. Tier 2/3 consulting pays fine, and very much depends for hours/travel. You can look for some stuff on WSO but assume somewhere from 55-75k, travel a lot, and ~50-70 hours per week (huge range there, really depends on firm and function).

4. Class sound fine, but probably won't do much for you. I assume that somewhere on your resume you have a "relevant coursework" area, so you can put them there. Again, depending on the firm and function, it could be more relevant (e.g. Tax Advisory postions will care about your coursework, whereas a more generalist position like Deloitte S&O won't care much at all).

5. An MBA could certainly be in the cards down the road, and is likely your best route to MBB. GPA is a great start, and a good GMAT will certainly be necessary, but to improve your GMAT chances, you need to get the best job possible that's as close as possible to your end goal. Tax Advisory --> General IT/Process Improvement Advisory --> MBA --> Strategy is a relatively classic path (and similar to mine). However, in terms of how b-schools view your experience, there's a big difference between KPMG Tax Advisory vs. PwC Regular Advisory vs. Deloitte S&O vs. McKinsey (basically listed in reverse order of how b-schools will view them). Therefore, the higher up on that rung you can go, the better your b-school chances are, all other things being equal.

Most important thing for you right now, beyond case interviews and course work, is to start finding contacts at firms. Also, try to take a broad approach and find a bunch of firms (big and small). The wider the net, the better your chances are of finding the one or two really helpful people.

Mar 11, 2014

I should have formatted that way you did. Thanks for your input.

1. Yes I'm sure they do, but I don't want to solely focus on doing tax consulting. I want to diversify my experience somewhat.Yes I know I am sort of contradicting what I said earlier, but at the end of the day I want to bring more to the table than just tax.

2. Very good points here. A lot of this time I have been thinking that this could be a ding rather than a plus on my resume. The way you just put it puts it into perspective quite well. Regarding your initiative comment, I really had to hustle to get this internship. In fact, I shocked a lot of my peers since I got it as a first semester transfer. I actually had worked at Jackson Hewitt last season, so that got my foot in the door! Should I keep the Jackson Hewitt on my resume? It's pretty much like saying I worked at McDonalds when applying to a fancy restaurant - lol. I will definitely start thinking of how to present my tax experience to speak to the other functions.

3. Would obtaining the CPA designation be necessary here? How much would it actually matter? I also thought about doing Masters in Accounting at a big name school to help with recruiting - not sure how effective this would be relative to the cost though.

4. I don't have a relevant coursework section of my resume - yet. I can barely seem to fit everything else on there!

5. Does MBB take MBA's who did not work for them post-undergrad? I was sort of under the impression that MBB and IB were something you get into out of undergrad, and did MBA to stay there.

I know networking online is a great tool, but what can I do in person? Given that I don't go to a target school, what kind of events are out there to the "general public," or people in my shoes. I am going to be in Dubai for a month during May, I figured maybe I can leverage that (somehow) in my favor. I do speak Arabic, too.

Mar 11, 2014

Also, what was your route and what do you do now? If you don't mind me asking.

Mar 12, 2014

1. Makes sense. I wouldn't want to pigeon hole myself there either if I could help it.

2. I don't see anything wrong with keeping that on your resume. It's an internship, and that's fine. A lot of people applying to consulting jobs haven't done a single thing of value in terms of work, and still get jobs. You have some nice experience at real companies - that can't hurt. In terms of your tax experience, the things you want to emphasize (and this is sort of obvious): teamwork, any client interaction you have, and ability to produce (e.g. 25 tax returns a week, most tax returns of any intern, whatever).

3. CPA is only going to matter for Enterprise Risk/Risk Management/other accounting advisory jobs. I would definitely look at these, but don't worry about the CPA yet. Maybe once you get the job, but if you're looking for a non-accounting related job, I'd probably keep the CPA on the backburner unless you want it. A MAC could potentially help you get into banking, and I'm sure get some of the advisory jobs listed above, but won't help you get into the more pure consulting that you might want (S&O, etc.). I would think you may be able to get those advisory jobs without it. More of a fit would be an MMA if you can get into a good program like Duke/UVA/many others that I'm not aware of. Do a search for a bunch of info on these.

4. Put it on there if you can, but I'm sure it's not that big of a deal.

5. MBB bring in a ton of MBA hires that did not work for them previously. Without getting too specific (I'm sure this can be found somewhere), I'd say that each top ~10 business school places 40-80 non-sponsored students into MBB. More specifically, Tuck (where I'll be going) is sending over 50 people out of a class of 270 to MBB, very few (or none) of whom were sponsored.

6. Networking is not about events or a target school. It's about finding people that you have some relation to (friends, relatives, friends of friends, friends of parents, high school and/or college alumni, etc.) that can help you. Lots of stories on WSO about hustling to get banking/consulting/other jobs from non-targets by strong networking. Takes a lot of effort and cold emailing, but is very doable.

My background, briefly, is Semi-target ? Big 4 Audit ? Deloitte S&O ? Start-up/Boutique CFO Consulting Firm ? Top(ish) b-school next year with hopes of MBB. Can probably learn enough about my background here:

Mar 13, 2014

1. Exactly

2. I'll do all I can to play this up as much as possible. I'd it acceptable for my resume to be now than one page long?

3. I guess I could hold off on the cpa. Excuse my ignorance, but what is MMA? After scrounging Google all I can seem to find is Master of Marketing Analysis, I'd this what you're talking about?

5. Good to know! Also, impressive background. I wish you the best!

6. After reading this today, I had the opportunity to strike a conversation with a stranger on the train. I was nervous, but I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone. She had a KPMG badge on so I jokingly said that she's lucky to be going home so early during busy season(I was taking a late lunch lol) . It turns out she is in the consulting arm, and we just got to talking. We exchanged names, I added her on LinkedIn, and now I'm in my way to making a connection!

My take on networking is that it's not necessarily all about the quantity of your connections, but the quality. I feel that between introducing myself to 5 people briefly and strikingan engaging conversation with 2, the latter would be better. As they would be more likely to go out of their way to help you. This is jusr speculative though, what's your take on this philosophy?

Mar 13, 2014