Can I break into strategy consulting/MBB with a U Washington STEM/CS degree?

kelaita's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 16

I'm currently a freshman pre-CS student at the University of Washington in Seattle planning on getting either a CS degree or - as a backup - another of their computing majors (ACMS, Informatics, Applied math, etc). I am very much on the path towards working in tech. I come from a family of programmers in the SF Bay Area, I have internship experience as a back-end Java programmer, and I'm attending a top 10 CS school. However, I've come to accept that working a job in tech just isn't for me, and am much more interested in doing something quantitative at a top management consulting firm or investment bank.

I have no interest in attending my school's business school. Foster is pretty much known as a shitty business school that sends kids to work as accountants in the big 4. I understand foster grads have no chance at getting top jobs in finance; however, since I am on track for a much more highly regarded program, I am wondering if UW's computing-related majors' reputation will carry over into the financial sector. I've seen tons of UW kids' dreams get torn apart on this site because of their school, but they all seem to be foster students.

So, my question is - what would be my best plan from here on out to break out of tech ands land a MBB or MBB-equivalent job coming out of undergrad? Should I continue to pursue tech-related internships for now or is there a way I can expedite the process of breaking into the financial sector with relevant internships? In addition to applying to the CS and computing-related majors, I plan to join business/finance clubs and am thinking about joining the Greek system for their connections (I rushed and got a bid from Delts who are #3 for GPA). I have also set up multiple meetings with my school's career center and people from the alumni network.

Last question - should I transfer?

Thanks so much

Edit: I also have a 35 ACT, not sure if that's relevant but if it is I'd love to know :)

Eastern Europe
United States - West

Comments (17)

Aug 24, 2017

Deloitte Consulting recruits from the University of Washington.

You have no chance of working at MBB post graduation as they only hire people from top schools (Target Schools). I really don't understand your reasoning. If you really want to do consulting, then you should make it a priority and change your major with the notion that you will do whatever it takes to break into Consulting. If I were you, I would major in Economics and be so good at what you do, that you will go unnoticed and be hired at Deloitte. This entails getting at-least 3.5+ GPA with extracurriculars that show your interest in Consulting and evidence of Leadership. Like you said about non-target Business School, steer-clear from it as you have little to no chance of breaking into Investment Banking as a Finance Major.

In summary, switch your Major to Econ and if you do well, you'll have a chance to work in Tier-2 Consulting (Deloitte) which will set you up for a top MBA program down the road.

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Aug 24, 2017

Thanks for the fast response!

The reason I would want to avoid switching my major is that my school is not known for much besides computer science. Plus, I have experience in CS and enjoy the subject, I just don't want to work for a tech company. In short, I'm looking to do something tech/math related but at a top consulting firm. MBB doesn't recruit here, but if I am thinking if I network my ass off and since I'd be graduating from the #6 CS program in the US, top firms (aka not big 4) might notice me - at least for quantitative positions. Am I wrong in thinking that?

As for Deliotte, I am fully aware UW (mainly foster) pumps kids to that company. I know a good amount of people who had gone to Deloitte and are very unsatisfied with their jobs and salaries, so I really have no interest in any of those accounting firms. Because of that, switching my major to something non-tech isn't really an option for me, since I am aiming for top companies. In short, I really have no interest in tier-2 consulting firms because I actually want to make money.

Basically, my options are to transfer to a target, or to graduate with a CS/tech degree from UW. What would you suggest for me?

Aug 31, 2017

Basically steer clear of this advice OP..

And you absolutely have a chance at MBB - just keep the grades, extracurrics, internships and networking up

Changing your major is pointless as well unless you have a burning passion for econ - these days CS is certainly an advantage

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Oct 9, 2017

What type of internships would you recommend I look at? Fintech, different types of consulting, pure tech, etc... Sorry for the late response

Aug 24, 2017

Don't switch majors. Econ is a joke and if you stick to CS and do well, you'll be able to get a job that pays even more money than management consulting (data science).

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Aug 24, 2017

Yes, I have no intention to switch majors. I love CS, just don't want to work in tech - partly because of the culture and partly because the work does not seem interesting in the long run. I'm not too familiar with data science, what would that type of career entail?

Aug 24, 2017

It's at the crossroads of maths/stats/CS and business: extracting, manipulating and analyzing data. Nearly all F500 companies are hiring data scientists for analytics and machine learning nowadays and the major consuting firms are no exceptions. Disclosure: I was a data scientist right out of college and was able to get a quant job after a few years.

Best Response
Aug 24, 2017

Stick with CS - much better job prospects than an Econ major and still have the possibility of consulting.

Honestly, fix the attitude though. If you're truly interested in a consulting job don't turn your nose up at non-MBB firms. Deloitte Consulting is still a strong firm and often times considered one of the best outside MBB.

While Foster is not a target for MBB or IB it's an exaggeration to call it a shitty business school. Working as an accountant at a Big 4 isn't sexy or interesting but that's still better than the majority of jobs for fresh college grads with only a BA/BS.

It's great to be ambitious, but have some perspective - you're going to get wrecked by people in the future if you keep on thinking like this.

Aug 24, 2017

Alright, that's fair for the attitude. Sorry if I came off as a dick, I'll def work on improving that haha.
As for consulting opportunities for CS majors, do you know what types of jobs that would be and how to go about getting them?

Aug 24, 2017

No worries - I'll give you the benefit of the doubt since you're young and hungry.

Consulting firms don't hire for specific majors so CS and non-CS majors will basically have the same types of consulting jobs available to them. The best way would be to apply through OCR for the best chance at landing an interview but most consulting firms reserve their internships for juniors (there are sophomore internships usually reserved for diversity/URM students).

So to increase your chances of getting that coveted consulting internship your junior year you'll want to get internships early on as a freshman and sophomore. I think this is where being a CS major can really help. You can do some CS-related internships at brand name tech companies or startups which are more open to hiring younger college students. I'd say make a goal of getting a CS-related internship at a brand name company your sophomore year and you should be good for a consulting interview the following year as long as your GPA is 3.5+ (3.8+ for MBB). Consulting firms love seeing a brand name on the resume gives you a lot of street cred.

A caveat: Since you're a CS major there may be a push from firms to place you in a more tech-focused consulting role than strategy (ex: Deloitte BTA). Make sure you're aware on the job app which practice it is for and clarify the type of work during the interview process.

Aug 25, 2017

The way I see it you have two options:

Option 1: Transfer to a Target
Assuming you have a high GPA (above 3.8), you should have a good shot at transferring to a target with your ACT score. If not Stanford or Cal, UCLA and USC would still give you some on campus recruiting (OCR) for MBB and IB. If you're open to the east coast, there's tons of targets out there too. It doesn't have to be Harvard or Wharton, you really just want to be at a place with OCR like Darthmouth, Brown, Duke, etc.
The pros of this approach are that you have firms coming directly to your school and they want to recruit you, which makes landing an interview miles easier.

Option 2: Stay at UW and hustle
If you're really as focused and driven to pursue consulting as it appears, you should be able to land an offer from UW. I know because I go to a similarly ranked state school, and I just finished my summer at one of MBB. The road to an offer is A LOT tougher because you have to network like crazy and put in extra case prep to prove you belong, but the reward is you've worked harder than your fellow target interns and you're going to crush it during the internship and full time.

In the end I think it should come down to the confidence you have in yourself to hustle from UW vs. your appetite for potential debt (I don't know your family situation) and having to restart your college career at a target. If I were you I would try hustling at UW this year while also sending some applications to transfer to targets you think you have a shot at. Then see where you get in, look at the fin aid, and assess whether or not making the switch will be required to get you where you want to go.

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Aug 31, 2017

I'm at an MBB right now and would second all of the advice here advocating that you stay in CS, keep your grades up, get involved in campus leadership opportunities, and network. If you land strong CS internships, you'll be at an advantage in recruiting and stand out among all the econ/business UGs. Consulting is a field that allows you to explore your interests and encourages you following your passions before starting (at least at my firm for pre-MBA hires).

That said, getting an interview from a non-target is difficult, for the reasons many mentioned. If you want a better shot, consider transferring to a school with OCR. I'm not sure that a shot at MBB alone should sway you from leaving a school that you like, but that's a decision you'll have to think through.

Aug 31, 2017

go huskies!

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

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Sep 1, 2017

1) You could definitely still land at MBB with a CS degree from UW. It will be a lot harder because it's a non-target, so if you really, really want to just maximize your MBB chances, I'd try to transfer to a target school

2) With that said, you're 19 years old. How certain are you really that MBB is the right fit for you? You haven't worked a day in that job, so being so deadset on it seems strange to me. Honestly, I worked at MBB for 2 years and wish I had more tech knowledge/experience under my belt. I'm trying to carve out a career for myself in the world of tech, and while it's great to have the business experience I have from MBB, I sometimes wish I'd done a few years working as an engineer instead because a lot of the really sought-after and respected execs in the tech industry came from having engineering backgrounds.

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Oct 12, 2017