how to break into management consulting?

Hello everyone,

I am in first year university and I am looking to potentially find a job in consulting. However, my GPA is absolute crap (2.0). Plus, my school is mainly for accounting and rarely any consulting firms hire from my school.

What GPA should I aim for to break into consulting?

Any other advice? Thanks!

Comments (57)

 
2/22/16

Obviously it depends but if you go to a non-target I'd shoot for a ~3.7. I went to a target (for my firm) and had a ~3.6 (with 2 majors) and I'm on the low end of offers from my school.

As for breaking in start networking now. Search for people who went to your university and that currently work at the firms you're interested in. Let me know if there's any other guidance I can provide.

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2/22/16

In subsequent years try to maintain GPA on the higher end of the spectrum

 
2/23/16

Not a consultant but there is no way you get in without networking. So do that. And get a 4.0 the rest of undergrad...

 
2/23/16

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Another newbie here. I come for assistance as well. I currently work at a financial services firm in the online lending industry based in NYC. I have been with the same company for over a year and a half and have been very successful in my time here. With that being said it's not an industry I wish to be in long term and am very intrigued by the consulting industry. Solving complex and new problems offers a consistent learning curve and at times I'm sure can be difficult. With that being said I'm not very sure of the consulting landscape. Outside of the research I've been on the top tier firms I'm not sure how to get my foot in the door. I attended the University of Buffalo with a management degree and a focus in finance but completed with a sub-par GPA hovering around 3.0 (Class 13'). Is there any mid-tier firms you recommend or particular areas that I should look to specialize in? I know this post is pretty vague but I'm very much committed to this transition.

 
2/24/16

Thought you were gonna give me some advice...

 
2/24/16

Nope just another chimp. Nothing to see here

 
 
 
2/24/16

did you go to Dallas for your KPMG case study comp? I ask because I had a few friends go recently. As for the consulting thing, the answers to the following questions will help narrow your focus and get answers better tailored to you.

Where did you go to school?
When are you graduating? What is your GPA like? What kind of consulting do you wish to pursue? Do you know anyone working in consulting currently?

 
 
2/24/16

People come into MBB from engineering all the time (from what I've read), so I wouldn't worry about that. If MBB recruits at NIH things will be a lot easier because you'd be more likely to have your resume looked at, and be offered an interview. If not, you should try to network with some of the alumni to see if you can get someone to give your resume to a recruiter. Here is a networking group that might be applicable to you that I discovered using a quick google search:

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Fellow-Consulting-C...

I think this would be a good place to start in terms of finding people who could get you the information that you're looking for (that would be more specific to you), and hopefully net you some more high-yield methods than just going through the on-line application process. I'm not sure what your degree levels are, but you should probably figure exactly what position you're eligible for based on your background. This would be a good place to start.

McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/your_background
BCG: http://www.bcg.com/careers/is_bcg_for_me/backgroun...
Bain: http://www.joinbain.com/apply-to-bain/your-backgro...

One blog that I looked at a lot over the past couple of weeks http://consideringconsulting.blogspot.com/. He was a post doc who was gunning pretty hard for an APD hire in one of the MBB firms. I found it helpful because he also shares the perspective of trying to break into consulting from a technical but non-business field. He shares his experiences during the process with quite a bit of detail; there are lots of comments, anecdotes, etc. to go through. I found it informative. There's also a lot of info on this website if you search. It takes awhile though.

HTH.

 
2/24/16

Why the sudden interest in consulting/business?

You'll need to answer that somehow, preferably have it reflected in your resume. If possible, try to take some business-oriented courses at NIH.

Consulting firms love engineers, cause engineers are trained to solve difficult, abstract problems. Most consultants come from engineering. When McK came to recruit at my school, they held 2 infosessions - 1 for the engineering school and 1 for everyone else. So... the technical background isn't an issue... you just need weave a back story as to why you are now shifting interests.

Learning about the industry should be easy. There's info everywhere. For recruiting, you'll need to finagle your way into the Fall recruitment cycle... and begin studying/practicing for case interviews.

 
2/24/16

have you considered looking into the big 4 or boutique firms? life sciences consulting firms hire lots of science or engineers major.

clinical research to consultant (newbie to big4)

 
2/24/16

^ He doesn't want the big 4 or boutiques. He wants MBB and he wants it now.

(This is a troll post lol. /sarcasm)

 
2/24/16

Honesty if you have a biomed degree and a desire for highly technical work, please don't go to a Big 4. Waste of talent.

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

 
2/24/16

MBB recruits directly out of NIH, almost like on campus recruiting. Just look/ask around, they have info sessions there all the time. Go to those events, have a good story on why you want to make the switch. Plug yourself in, and see what happens from there.

 
2/24/16

Make sure you start the prep process early. I highly suggest you read Case in Point by Marc Consentino.

 
2/24/16

You can get into consulting as a specialist, not necessarily as a consultant.

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2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. 11 Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate, 10+ hours of video. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you’ll ever need to ace your consulting case interviews. Learn more.

 
 
2/24/16

BK? If so, very good firm and connections, ex-big 4's everywhere (former intern here)

Shooter

 
2/24/16
 
2/24/16

Anything else? Lol, I wanna do consulting before I get my MBA because I'd like to settle down after then and not do too much traveling.

 
 
2/24/16

PM me if you can't find what you're looking for on here, but there should be a litany of sources.

 
2/24/16

Im in healthcare consulting. You can PM me as we'll if you'd like.

 
 
2/24/16

stop what you are doing and get out and have fun....go to a college then realizing if you can even handle everything and getting good grades (most people crack and cant) then we will talk career

 
2/24/16

Business school is useless if you want to be an accountant. Focus on getting a masters in accounting and passing the CPA exam.

It's hard to say what the "best" path to success is, but as long as you work hard, do well in school, actively look for internships and other jobs, keep busy with clubs and are not completely socially inept you will be fine.

 
2/24/16

why would you want to major in accounting to break into consulting,,,, ?

 
 
2/24/16

I'm not sure about that mate, but i would be sure to hear from our fellow mates on here.

 
2/24/16

nope, ibd or consulting

 
2/24/16

Your industry experience would be more valued in a management consultancy than a bank.

 
2/24/16

Either way, you'll likely need to rebrand with B-School before MBB.

 
2/24/16

Sounds like a great job, congratulations. It probably won't lead to a lateral to an MC analyst job, but it can definitely get into a good b school and you'd be an extremely strong candidate for consulting coming out of b school.

 
2/24/16

Is this a job or an internship? If it's an internship, you'd definitely have a shot at turning it into a full-time MC offer. If it's a job, you might be able to lateral to a boutique or something, but like was said above you'd probably have an easier time - and a shot at bigger firms - if you went the MBA route first.

In all honesty, it sounds like a cool gig, and the fact that the guy you'd work for is so well-credentialed is a great sign, too.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.

 
2/24/16

If someone left this firm, got a Harvard MBA, and then came back, it's legitimate. And if it's going to expose you to all those functions that you're interested in, it's definitely a good choice.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.

 
2/24/16

^agreed. Unless their dad own's the place.

It sounds like a solid opportunity. I'll echo everyone else. You could get that job, get an MBA at a good school, and then have a chance at a top consulting firm. You will not be able to lateral to MBB, but from my understanding there aren't many places from which one can lateral to MBB.

 
2/24/16

Thanks for everyones response. I appreciate everyones insight.

I am pretty excited about this position. Hopefully, I will be asked to take part in the last part of the interview and offered the position. The 2nd interview went really well in my opinion.

Wish me luck!

 
 
2/24/16

Your best shot here is to contact alumni of your school working in the field right away. Get a phone call or an in person meeting, explain your situation and ask them how you can best position your self for a career in consulting. Also, I believe consulting interviews are in mid January, so I'd get on top of the case interview format as a pre-emptive tactic if I were you.

You HAVE to get in front as many people as possible, because all it takes is one guy putting you through to the person doing the hiring, and I'm sure with your stats you'd be considered for an interview at least.

Good luck.

 
2/24/16
CNB90:

Your best shot here is to contact alumni of your school working in the field right away. Get a phone call or an in person meeting, explain your situation and ask them how you can best position your self for a career in consulting. Also, I believe consulting interviews are in mid January, so I'd get on top of the case interview format as a pre-emptive tactic if I were you.

You HAVE to get in front as many people as possible, because all it takes is one guy putting you through to the person doing the hiring, and I'm sure with your stats you'd be considered for an interview at least.

Good luck.

Definitely start with alumni - the last class we hired before I left had three UT-Austin undergrads I believe; never met any of them but for the southern region offices at MBB a lot of schools you would not think of as "target" (e.g., Rice, BYU, UT-Austin, Georgia Tech) are very much in the mix [before anyone yells at me for saying your school isn't a target normally, I'm just going by what I saw during recruiting ex-southern offices].

 
2/24/16

Am I correct in assuming that, since most work at MBB involves traveling to clients, work in a southern office at MBB is similar to work in New York at MBB? Or is there a notable difference in job assignment, prestige within the company, internal and external opportunities, et cetera?

 
2/24/16
guillaume:

Am I correct in assuming that, since most work at MBB involves traveling to clients, work in a southern office at MBB is similar to work in New York at MBB? Or is there a notable difference in job assignment, prestige within the company, internal and external opportunities, et cetera?

You're not really in a position to pick and choose anyways so don't worry about it.

In either case, the prestige differences between different cities isn't nearly as pronounced in consulting as it is in banking. No matter how global they claim to be, most firms will still have a slight preference for local staffing for cost reasons - with that said, who's to say a financial services project in NYC is more "prestigious" than an industrials project in the Midwest? In actuality, the "prestige" differences, if there are any to be made, likely come from self-selection. More people tend to want the big offices, so these positions tend to be slightly more competitive, and as a result, the implied difficulty (and thus prestige) might just be a tad higher.

 
2/24/16

Okay, thanks. Sorry, I realize that my earlier comment probably came off as annoying prestige-hungry; I was mainly just curious, and I know that I would be very lucky to get an MBB position anywhere in the US.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. :)

 
2/24/16
Sav:
guillaume:

Am I correct in assuming that, since most work at MBB involves traveling to clients, work in a southern office at MBB is similar to work in New York at MBB? Or is there a notable difference in job assignment, prestige within the company, internal and external opportunities, et cetera?

No matter how global they claim to be, most firms will still have a slight preference for local staffing for cost reasons - with that said, who's to say a financial services project in NYC is more "prestigious" than an industrials project in the Midwest?

Office choice actually will matter quite a bit for Bain and BCG since they have regional / office-centric staffing models. As a result, the industry mix differs more than you'd expect from office to office at those firms.

Also, whatever it's worth, all the UT Austin kids I've met at my firm have been from the business school. So you should definitely spend a lot of time networking and getting your name out there.

 
2/24/16

UT Austin is a target for MBB, Booz, OW, etc. You're looking at Houston/Dallas offices.

See http://www.McKinsey.com/careers/join_us/university....
http://www.BCG.com/join_bcg/oncampus/texas.aspx
http://www.joinbain.com/apply-to-bain/bain-on-your...

Get in contact with alumni and they should be able to help. Shoot me a PM with any further questions!

 
2/24/16

Also, it definitely won't hurt you that you're studying engineering and economics, especially not with your GPA. Keep up the GPA and perhaps try and get some EC leadership experience under your belt (especially McKinsey likes this). Is there a consulting club or something in that area you can join?

Also, if you really want to do consulting, you shouldn't be looking at just MBB. There are a ton of great companies out there and if you want to do consulting, you should look at them to. You should try and get face time with as many people you can from all the top 15 or so consulting companies and see which ones you like. Any case interview experience etc. you can get from Deloitte, LEK, Accenture, ATK, PA, OW etc. will also be enormously helpful in landing a position at MBB.

Oh and finally, start practicing case interviews today rather than tomorrow (not just because it's Christmas Day). The extra edge you will gain on candidates who don't start the case interview training until they get their interview cannot be overstated. I can recommend buying Victor Cheng's Look Over My Shoulder. In my opinion, that's really the only resource you need (along with his case interview framework videos).

 
2/24/16
guillaume:

Computer Engineering

I have a strong GPA at the moment (3.97)

wat

 
2/24/16

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