Non-target to non-MBB consulting -AMA

VodkaRedBull's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 512

Hello everyone,

First, I want to say THANK YOU to the entire WSO community. I have leaned heavily on this forum to guide me through college and could not have made it to my current role without WSO. I am in my 6th month as an analyst at a top non MBB consulting firm (Oliver Wyman, Deloitte, PwC, Accenture Strategy, etc.) and am loving it.

I have always enjoyed reading the success story posts on WSO, so I thought I would write one as well and offer to answer any questions from people who are in similar positions as I was. This is a new WSO profile only because I was not discrete enough with my last one.

My Background:

West coast non-target liberal arts undergrad. BA in Economics. 4.0 major gpa, 3.8 overall. Social fraternity, business fraternity, internship in private wealth management and at two startups. Started a college business as well. This is what my resume looked like when I was applying to full time positions during my senior year.

My Timeline:
I decided to pursue consulting early in my junior year. Pushed hard for a summer internship, interviewed with 1 firm, earned 0 consulting offers. Spent the summer interning in business development at a startup. Began the push immediately after the internship ended. Interviewed with 4 firms, 2 consulting offers.

My Process:
As you might know by now, networking is the best way to get a consulting offer (and the only way from a non-target). I used my school's alumni database to send cold emails and also relied on friends, faculty, contacts from internships - anyone and everyone that I could. It can be frustrating that as a non-target applicant, you will probably spend more time trying to get interviews than actually preparing for cases. That's just how it is.

The key resources that I used and recommend are WSO, ManagementConsulted, Case in Point, and Victory Cheng's Case Interview Secrets.

3 Key Takeaways:

Cast a Wide Net- As a non-target applicant, you don't have the option to be choosey (at least at first). Talk with anyone you can who has any ties to consulting at all. Apply to large firms and boutiques (boutiques are often flattered that you took the time to find them, learn about them, and tell a compelling story for why you're a great fit). Know your ultimate goal (Consulting experience, Top MBA Program, etc.), and understand there are many ways to get there.

Know your Stuff- If you're telling 100's of people in cold emails that you want to be a consultant, you better know the industry, the job description, why you're a perfect fit, etc. better than anyone else. When someone asks "Why consulting?" you need to deliver a well thought out, succinct, intelligent answer without hesitation. The only "advantage" that you have as a non-target applicant is that you demonstrate serious interest by hunting people down to talk to them - don't blow it by looking / sounding stupid (and confirming any prejudices that people might have about kids from non-targets).

The Future is Bright- Stay motivated, because the future is actually pretty bright. If you get the offer, you will be more prepared than the average campus hire because you will have had to eat, sleep, and breathe consulting info for the past year (or two). At my firm, it is largely an analyst's responsibility to find projects, and I'm certainly ahead of the curve in that department. Out of everyone in my start class, I am looked up to as the "networking guy" and answer questions / read over cold emails for my colleagues. Also, once you make it in, no one cares about where you went to school. I have been told multiple times by campus recruits from top universities that they really respect me for earning a spot at the firm through nontraditional methods.


That's it. Probably a bit of a rant, but I'm hoping that some of you will find it useful. Feel free to ask questions.

Comments (3)

Feb 13, 2015

Any advice on how to reach out to boutiques without any alumni there? At my school we have about 6 recent alumni at MBB firms and a ton of people with Big 4 Consulting. How do I reach out to the firms in between?

Feb 13, 2015

It can help a lot if you look up news stories / current events about that firm and bring that up (shows interest and that you're familiar with the industry). Also, if you find any white papers that the firm has published, you could reach out to their authors and try to have a discussion about their work. Additionally, it always helps to find random things that you have in common with the person you will talk to (grew up in the same area, high school / college sports, same college major, whatever) - probably not necessary to drop in the cold email, but when you do have someone on the phone that is the kind of thing that will make you more memorable / likeable.

    • 1
Feb 16, 2015