Exploring Exit Opportunities After MBB Consulting

Hello all,

I'm planning to work at an MBB after undergrad graduation, and I'm hoping to take advantage of the MBA sponsorship too (if all goes well). Based on my internship work, I'm interested in consulting in the private equity sector. However, I've heard it would be difficult to exit into PE after earning an MBA and working the required 2 years at the MBB after graduation. Given this information, I have a few questions:

  1. I've seen that it may be possible to work for a few years at the MBB, move to PE, and then earn an MBA. Do PE firms generally sponsor MBA programs?

  2. If it is the case that transitioning to PE after earning an MBA is difficult, does this mean all the PE-focused work I did in consulting was a waste, meaning I should focus on a different industry as soon as possible otherwise there will be no exit opportunities available to me?

  3. When being presented with exit opportunities through networking, headhunters, etc., how heavily do these offers depend on the industry the consultant primarily worked in? Are there some industries with better or worse exit opportunities? (I understand this last question is very subjective.)

I know it's very early to be thinking about all this, but this is all really new to me, so I'd appreciate any guidance or advice anyone can offer.

Consulting Case Interview Course

  • 2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. Crowdsourced from over 600,000 members.
  • 11 Detailed Exclusive Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate and 10+ hours of video.
  • Trusted by over 1,000 aspiring consultants just like you.

Comments (8)

  • Intern in IB - CB
Apr 21, 2021 - 10:11pm

I'm not in consulting but from what I understand MBB is similar to banking in the sense that some banks will sponsor your MBA to keep you at the firm. PE firms usually hire bee MBA and do not sponsor. Therefore if you want to do PE your best bet is 2-3 years of MBB and then go to PE. Orrrrr an option you may not hav considered is that I know for example Bain has a private equity group which is basically consulting with PE clients

Apr 22, 2021 - 5:15pm

Something else you should think about: do you want to be on the investing side of PE or the portfolio company consulting/management side of PE? Both are viable exit options from consulting to PE, but the first is really only possible pre-MBA, while the other is possible at any time in your consulting career. Example of the second type of exit: Insight Partners has a team of "onsite" professionals who are pretty much all either ex-MBB or have significant operating experience and do consulting projects for Insight and its portfolio companies. 

1. No, they generally don't. However, at some funds, if you are a top performing associate, they'll send you to bschool with a senior associate position ready for you after you're done

2. Not necessarily. As long as you get some generalist experience (and you probably will, I would think it's pretty difficult to ONLY get staffed on PE projects), you'll be able to sell that pretty easily.

3. These offers only depend on your case experience insofar as it'll be easier to interview for roles and industries you've done project work in. Most MBB junior staff don't actually specialize before they exit, so pretty much everyone has a diverse range of projects to talk about. "Better" or "Worse" is really up to your own preference. If we're talking solely about compensation maximization, it'd be good to focus on PE or tech.

Apr 22, 2021 - 5:55pm

Thank you so much for your insight. Also in general, what is the balance between actively searching for an exit opportunity vs being recruited for an exit opportunity? Do people tend to lean more in one direction vs the other? I'm thinking it may become a bit awkward to be working as a consultant full-time while also aggressively applying to and interviewing for an exit role?

Apr 22, 2021 - 6:03pm

Not sure about the balance, though most MBB people I know are pretty regularly contacted by recruiters on LinkedIn (most of those opportunities probably aren't interesting to them, or the timing is off, or the comp is too low, etc.) PE lives in its own world though - you should look into the PE on-cycle recruiting process if you haven't already. 

Otherwise, MBB is extremely accommodating of people looking to leave. If you choose to do so, you can indicate to your company that you're ready to leave and they'll stop staffing you on projects and let you search for a new job while still getting paid full salary and benefits. This can be 2-4 months depending on your tenure in the company. 

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Apr 23, 2021 - 3:44am

Thank you so much for all your help! One more question, do you know anything about how MBA sponsorship works? As in, how long would you need to work at an MBB before you're eligible to request the sponsorship, and how does this align with business school deadlines?

Apr 23, 2021 - 1:16pm

MBA sponsorship is offered to post-undergrad BA/A/ACs who meet a certain performance threshold. It's unclear to me what exactly that threshold is, but you'll probably find out once you start. You'll need to work for about 1.5 years before the conversation of MBA sponsorship becomes serious, at which point they'll tell you whether you are on track to qualify or not. Honestly, I think that as long as you're not getting counseled to leave, you'll get the sponsorship. 

Since you'll be starting in the summer, you'll know whether you're offered sponsorship by the time your 2nd year ends, at which point your third year will be when you to apply to bschool. They also have dedicated teams supporting people applying to bschool, so that's cool. With this timeline, if you go directly from MBB to bschool, you'll have 3 YOE at matriculation. I think people used to go after just 2 years, but that's pretty uncommon these days since bschools explicitly prefer candidates with 3+ YOE.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

May 2021 Consulting

  • Principal (20) $274
  • Director/MD (42) $261
  • Vice President (34) $249
  • Engagement Manager (75) $216
  • Manager (126) $165
  • 2nd Year Associate (119) $138
  • Senior Consultant (265) $128
  • 3rd+ Year Associate (90) $127
  • NA (10) $116
  • Consultant (480) $114
  • 1st Year Associate (421) $113
  • Engineer (4) $110
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (110) $106
  • 2nd Year Analyst (242) $96
  • Associate Consultant (131) $92
  • 1st Year Analyst (828) $84
  • Intern/Summer Associate (130) $82
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (369) $67