Consulting Career Span

dunston17's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 633

Just wondering, for you consultants out there, what is the typical career path for a new hire in MBB/Big 4? Do people generally leave the industry after 5-7 years, if so, where do they go? I ask this question because long-term employees who do not make partner may become expensive to the company - besides, why would one want to continue working at the firm if there is no career progression?

Comments (6)

May 27, 2009

Not a consultant, but I have done some investigation into the career path because it's something I am intrigued by. I've heard that the majority of those who start out of college as BA/AC/fellow/w-e are expected to stay from 2-3 years. Kind of like an IB analyst program, but not specifically set out that way. After that time period most either jump to something else (PE, Industry, etc.) or if they have an interest in staying in consulting (and the interest is mutual) the firm will pay for their MBA. This is what I've heard from people in M/B/B. FWIW I also know someone starting at one of the above mentioned firms who eventually plans to go back to law school, not sure how common that is.

I'm not sure what the career path looks like after that time, thats the extent to which I've really investigated since I'm still in college. Also, someone with inside knowledge, please correct me if I misspoke. Hope I helped a bit.

May 27, 2009

panther is correct. sometimes the MBB will even pay for law school or JD/MBA programs if they're very interested in having you come back.

May 28, 2009

pantherdb26 - thanks for your input. Anyone else? Do most consultants jump ship after 2-3 years?

May 28, 2009

Some, like McK, have an "up or out" mentality where either you choose to continue moving up the ranks, or you take your experience and move on (a friend who is there said they are very supportive/helpful, and obviously the network and range of careers that alums have moved to also helps).

Others, like Bain have a similar, but less rigid policy. Talked to an alum from my school that had chosen to stay in the same position because he split his time between Bain and a non-profit, and they were alright with that.

May 28, 2009

If money is your incentive, the most lucrative exit option is to start your own company. McKinsey is known for producing the most number of entrepreneurs, and Bain and BCG have alumni who are at the heads of PE firms, eBay, smaller tech firms, etc.

Becoming an entrepreneur is ideal after the 2 year stint as a consultant. You're young and have current knowledge on a breadth of industries (and have the background to understand finance and non-finance aspects of a firm). MANY of the alums from my school who spent 2 years at M/B/B are now on the entrepreneurial track - some are successful, others are sticking to it.

Other conventional paths for consultants include corporate development positions at F500, going to law / business / other graduate school, and working for the government. Some decide to continue with consulting after grad school.

Surprisingly, if you are interested in the non-profit or NGO management side of consulting, you can get that exposure from M/B/B. Alums from the big three have also served public service positions (think Bobby Jindal).

Alphaholic is also on the money - the degree of flexibility varies with the firm. Bain is known for being the most flexible of the three (ranked as most focused on training and work-life balance for the past 5 years by an array of consulting guides). In addition to what's already been mentioned and re: travel, Bain also encourages ACs to stick to home sites more than the other two (meaning marginally less travel). McKinsey has the Mon-Thurs model which means BAs travel virtually all week. BCG is in between. Keep in mind that the consultant lifestyle also varies according to the office.

Hope this helps. In my experience (I've worked in both banking and consulting), consulting gives you a LOT more flexibility and options outside of business and finance than investment banking does.


Jun 13, 2009