Skip to last 3 paragraphs after skimming background for tl:dr
I just graduated this month from a top 50 undergrad/top 10 public school with a 3.4 in Econ. Last month, I was convinced that the only way to get my foot in the door to IB (what I thought at the time was my most optimal way of getting to an M7 MBA in the future) was corporate finance. I busted my butt learning excel and applying to a hundred or so corp fin entry levels and got one corp fin interview in my hometown (I wanted to leave though) and a couple in my home country (Eastern Europe but based in silicon valley, ended up falling through).
Previous experience: business development analyst at a small company - basically learned how to build a 3 statement financial model of a company. Did a short summer stint at a company in eastern europe but was more logistics/charitable.
However, I also got an interview for A.T. Kearney in my native country (Eastern Europe), and I thought it was interesting. Not knowing much about consulting, I read the position title "Business Analyst" and imagined myself doing the excel crunch work I would be doing in a corp finance position. I studied my excel and behaviorals and expected to ace the interview since it was also in Eastern Europe, as I figured they just wanted me because I was "American" and it was going to be easy.
As I studied more and more for the interview and started looking on glassdoor, I realized that this was basically their entry level consultant role, where I think if you did well enough for a year you would end up as a consultant. This was both exciting and stressful to me as I bought my plane ticket (I was going to go back to my native country anyways for other interviews and to visit family), since I knew that consultants were sought after by MBA admission officers (and I could use this position to network with back in the US, more on that later) but I also had no idea how to prepare for a (pseudo) consultant interview.
So, I got an email from the A.T. Kearney recruiter that I was supposed to take a Test similar to the GMAT on site and they gave me a practice test which was really easy, so instead I studied a lot more for the case interview portion (mistake #1, since the first round would only consist of the GMAT-like test).
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As I was studying for the case interviews (case in point, wharton/kellogg casebooks), I realized how much more fun this interview process/studying for this interview process was compared to anything else I've tried. Naturally, as I learned more about the consulting career, it looked a lot more pleasurable than IB/corp fin as well as being desirable to adcoms.
Now, as I await the results from the AT Kearney GMAT-like test that I severely underestimated (spent too much time at beginning on harder problems, ones at end were much easier, have to get half right to pass), I'm deciding what my next plan to action is going to be. I felt really good talking to the interviewer and I think with more practice I can get decent at case interviews, so I feel like consulting would be a fun job search process to go through but I don't know how I'm going to get my first foot through the door to the first rounds.
Do I stay in my native country and network as Accenture, Deloitte, A.T. Kearney, etc. are all present here and it's easier for me to get a first round as my resume stands out? I would only stay for like 6 months-1 year and then eventually move back to the US and network with a tier 2 on my resume. Or rather do I move to Charlotte as my girlfriend is going to med school at Wake Forest and try to network with the tier 2's there (money is not an issue, inherited a lot and willing to spend a lot on rent/whatever else necessary)? As I said, I really enjoy the case interviews and I'm willing to put in the work (I already have and am currently doing so in my spare time here in my native country). Also, from what I understand, the ATK in my native country was a general management consulting company, while the ones in Charlotte are more specialized, would that count me out of most of the firms in Charlotte?