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I have offers from the following companies for FT positions out of undergrad:

1) An MBB

2) IBM GBS Public Sector

3) Booz Allen Hamilton - division related to IT/Systems development; info about BAH in general would also be appreciated

I would like to learn more about the following factors at these companies:

1) Work that is interesting and / or transformational in impact

2) Overall happiness at company

3) Job security
- Overall
- At each advancement level (entry-level, post-MBA-level or equivalent, team leader-level, etc. to partner-level)

4) Company culture

5) All-in compensation at each advancement level
- If available, broken down into
- Base pay + signing bonus + bonus + profit-sharing
- Stock
- Pension/retirement-related

6) Chances of getting into top MBA programs and chances of company funding degree

7) Exit opportunities

8) Work-life balance

If there are significant differences for the above for different MBBs or for different offices/divisions of an MBB, that would be great to know too.

Thank you for your advice!

Comments (31)

 
Dec 27, 2010 - 4:37am

@ southernlovr: Thank you for your comment! In what specific aspects is MBB light-years ahead of the other offers?

@qwertyzap: I guarantee you that I am not a troll. Why does nothing on that list matter? I am seriously concerned that certain aspects, such as 3), could be significantly worse for MBB than for the other two. If I end up having to leave MBB, what exit options do I have? What will my chances be at PE/HF? In what specific ways will MBB put me in the best position for the rest of my working life?

 
Dec 27, 2010 - 12:45pm

happy.monkey:
@ southernlovr: Thank you for your comment! In what specific aspects is MBB light-years ahead of the other offers?

@qwertyzap: I guarantee you that I am not a troll. Why does nothing on that list matter? I am seriously concerned that certain aspects, such as 3), could be significantly worse for MBB than for the other two. If I end up having to leave MBB, what exit options do I have? What will my chances be at PE/HF? In what specific ways will MBB put me in the best position for the rest of my working life?

I think you are going to hear the same answers over and over. I'm not so knowledgeable about the subject as to offer an expert opinion but from what I've read over the years on WSO is that your MBB offer will trump the others that you have in essentially every way. That is to say it's probably the best pay, probably the best exit opps, etc., etc. Hopefully someone else can answer you questions, but don't be too surprised if you here the same thing over and over. Good luck.

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
 
Dec 27, 2010 - 3:09pm

When you're talking about things like job security and company culture, it's going to be different at each MBB.

Regardless, you're going to have way more high-level client contact at MBB than BAH or IBM. Thinking about the ratio of junior staff to senior staff at MBB vs. BAH, I imagine it's similar with respect to face time with high-level people internally.

Overall, you need to use the search function. This has been beaten to death.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points
 
Dec 27, 2010 - 5:23pm

Yeah, the reasons why MBB is superior to the others on that list have been discussed at tremendous length. I'm not even going to break it down by your 8 points, because MBB wins on basically all of them, with the possible exception of 3 (I'm not familiar with job security at BAH and IBM). MBB does up-or-out pretty regularly, but if you get up-or-outed you have plenty of good options, and getting squeezed at McKinsey is better than not getting squeezed at IBM.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Dec 28, 2010 - 3:42am

Thank you everyone for your comments!

@petergibbons: What is the ratio of junior staff to senior staff at MBB, IBM, and BAH?

@2x2Matrix: I heard that IBM has a firing rate of around 1%, which seems to be a lot lower than the rates at MBB. If you are forced to leave, what types of good options do you have, and what percentage of people who want them get them? I heard that some options might include boring middle management in industry, which is not what I am really looking for. Why is getting squeezed at MBB better than not getting squeezed at IBM?

What is the percentage out of those who want to who end up in PE or HF? What stage (pre-MBA, post MBA, post post-MBA position) is optimal?

 
Dec 28, 2010 - 12:34pm

Not sure about IBM, but MBB likes to be between 6:1 and 7:1 ratio of consulting staff (Analyst up to Principal) to partners. It's many multiples higher at BAH (above 50:1)

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points
 
Dec 28, 2010 - 4:22pm

If that 1% is accurate, then you'll have more stability at IBM. But the job itself - the actual work you do, as well as the compensation and prestige - is leagues behind MBB.

If you get squeezed at MBB, a lot of people do head industry positions that could be described as middle management, but the pejorative aspect of that term doesn't apply to places like AmEx strategic planning or Google strategy. All of MBB have reputations with prospective employees that ride in part on the great opportunities available to those who leave, and they try to help you land where you want. You said middle management isn't what you're looking for; what are you looking for? There's basically nothing that you can do after IBM that you can't do after MBB.

In my experience, the non-Bain MBBs aren't dominated by aspiring PE/HF people. There are certainly some, but there's also a lot of people who are more interested in in-house strategy positions, senior nonprofit positions, etc. I can't speak to the optimal time to go, but post-analyst is a common time to move to PE.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Dec 28, 2010 - 6:29pm

Take the 1% firing rate with grain of salt. In my firm, people got laid off only during the recession, and they went straight after the low performers. In good times, no one fires. The 1% is probably people who really messed up (e.g. some IT Consultant taking down the client system overnight, caught downloading porn thru bittorrent in work laptop, etc.).

What you should really find out is:
1.a. Whether they have up or out (if you get forced out if you don't move up to the next level)
1.b. For up or out, whats the expected length at level (how long are you expected to stay at the current level before either moving up or out)
2. What's the turnover rate (number of employees quitting every year)

Generally the turn over rate ends up being 20-40% in good times as people either leave for competitors, industry job, grad school or forced out by up or out. This is the true indicator of stability, not firing. When up or out happens, you don't get called into the office out of the blue and asked to return the laptop right away. After your annual review, your manager or HR will tell you that maybe this is not the best place for you. Sometime you figure it out yourself (e.g. didn't get promoted within expected time, keep getting ranked in the average tier every year, etc. and these affect your pay/bonus). In most cases the signs are there for at least a year that it's time to go. Once you have had the discussion, you start looking for jobs, most often with smaller/lower tier firms and industry. Given you have consulting background, you find a job pretty easily in good times, and you move on to the next pasture.

That's pretty much how it works with up or out in my firm, and I am pretty confident its similar everywhere else.

Array
 
Dec 29, 2010 - 1:13am

@2x2Matrix: I heard that not everyone gets interesting positions like the ones you listed after they leave. Exit opps also could be at boring companies doing boring work. Do you know the percentage who get interesting positions versus boring positions?

Prestige does not matter much to me unless it has concrete implications.

I am looking to either stay around long-term at the company, move to HF/trading/PE work, or start my own business. The appeal of IBM is that most likely, I can stay around as long as I want to. I am not interested in IBM's exit opps but in IBM's job security.

When is a common/optimal time to move to HF? Would it work to move to PE after returning to the company for a few years post-MBA?

@abacab: Answers to your questions are below:

  1. IBM confirmed that they don't have anything similar to up or out. BAH probably doesn't either.

  2. The voluntary turnover, according to IBM, is 5 percent. I don't know for BAH.

Do you know the rate of being forced out through up or out or similar policies at each level at your MBB?

 
Dec 29, 2010 - 10:34am

happy.monkey:
@2x2Matrix: I heard that not everyone gets interesting positions like the ones you listed after they leave. Exit opps also could be at boring companies doing boring work. Do you know the percentage who get interesting positions versus boring positions?

That's hard to answer, as everybody defines "boring" differently, but a significant majority get jobs that they're happy with (though some obviously would have preferred to stay at MBB).

happy.monkey:
I am looking to either stay around long-term at the company, move to HF/trading/PE work, or start my own business. The appeal of IBM is that most likely, I can stay around as long as I want to. I am not interested in IBM's exit opps but in IBM's job security.

You're right that IBM has much better job security than MBB. If you decide that you don't mind the work and you're looking for the highest degree of stability, it could be a fine option. But you expressed a lack of interest in doing "boring work," and though I'm much more intimately familiar with MBB than I am with IBM, I don't know that IBM doesn't fit that bill. Plus, I've never heard of an MBB person getting up-or-outed and ending up jobless. If you take the MBB offer, you'll have less job security in that job, but barring economic upheaval (which can strike anywhere) you won't be jobless.

happy.monkey:
When is a common/optimal time to move to HF? Would it work to move to PE after returning to the company for a few years post-MBA?

Don't know about HF, but a couple people I know have left post-MBA MBB positions to take operating positions (think KKR Capstone) in PE. As far as I know, there's no level beyond which going to that kind of a role is impossible.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Dec 29, 2010 - 2:32pm

@2x2Matrix: Thank you for your comments!

From what I've heard about IBM GBS Public Sector, they do a lot of work that is not boring. For example, the work done here (http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/25355.wss), here (ftp://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/en/gws03003usen/GWS03003USEN.PDF), and here (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/success/cssdb.nsf/industryL2VW?OpenView&…) qualify as both interesting and beneficial to the public good, which makes the work fulfilling. I'm not sure how representative of the overall work this subset is. The MBB has a much broader range of industries that includes but is not limited to the public sector.

If the worst case scenario happens at MBB, how would you compare the non-HF/trading/PE exit opps to IBM?

How does KKR Capstone (which seems to be KKR's internal consultants for companies it takes private) compare to regular private equity in terms of how interesting the work is and pay?

 
Dec 29, 2010 - 6:07pm

I agree with abacab that, while these IBM projects are clearly worthwhile, there was almost definitely a lot of boring systems/tech work involved. That's not to say that it wouldn't be fulfilling, but I would hesitate to strongly judge the actual project experience either way.

happy.monkey:
If the worst case scenario happens at MBB, how would you compare the non-HF/trading/PE exit opps to IBM?

In general, anything that you can do after IBM you can also do after MBB (except maybe some systems/tech stuff, but nobody I know who's left MBB has wanted to do that).

happy.monkey:
How does KKR Capstone (which seems to be KKR's internal consultants for companies it takes private) compare to regular private equity in terms of how interesting the work is and pay?

I said "think KKR Capstone," which was meant to suggest a similar role at a different PE firm -- I'm not familiar with Capstone itself. The guys who went to do operational stuff in PE loved it (it's strategic/operational due diligence or operating improvement work, not pure LBO modeling). No idea about compensation as it compares to deal-side PE.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Dec 29, 2010 - 3:18pm

As long as you understand that your first link is a large scale system integration project. Creating the business case was probably fun, but those take about 2-3 months of a 5 year process.

Array
 
Dec 30, 2010 - 12:31am

I'm going to make this really really simple. If you want to do nothing else with your life but (public sector) IT work, then go to BAH or IBM. If not, go to MBB.

Not knowing you, we can't say what you'd find interesting or would make you happy. If you want to work 40 hours a week, and get a raging boner from IT systems integration, don't waste your time at MBB. If you want to do corporate strategy, don't waste your time at BAH or IBM.

MBB is higher risk, higher reward. More likely to get you into a good B-school, a corp. strat role at a top firm, PE, or whatever it is your ideal exit op is, pay gets better at the higher levels, but up-or-out becomes more likely than at BAH/IBM.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points
 
Dec 31, 2010 - 2:35am

Most of the consulting I would be doing at IBM would be outside of IT tech work. By the way, what is systems integration?
How would your answers change for a non-IT / general division in BAH?
How would you compare 1-8 in MBB exit opps with 1-8 in BAH itself or IBM itself?
How would you compare 1-8 in non-HF/trading/PE exit opps out of MBB with 1-8 at BAH itself or IBM itself?

@2x2Matrix: Thanks for the info about PE!

@petergibbons: I prefer 1) to stay long term at MBB, start my own business, or move to HF/trading/PE, with HF and trading being more preferred than PE over 2) a corp. strategy role, with the possibility of other options that are less preferred than 1) and more preferred than 2).

 
Jan 2, 2011 - 4:59pm

Please take a BAH/IBM job. I don't want to run the risk that someone as anal-retentive as you ends up at my firm. Try talking to your contacts at each firm who can offer you concrete advice instead of asking the same questions on repeat.

And if you're really worried about the work-life balance and up or out at MBB... honestly, you're probably going to be miserable because the people you'll work with are all type-A and pretty damn confident in their ability while you're sounding really insecure.

 
Jan 2, 2011 - 5:53pm

What abacab is saying is that we're basically debating "should I go to Princeton or Penn State?" Your MBB offer is better, period. If you call the MBB partner who made you your offer and say "Hey, I've decided to turn you down to do IT at BAH," you will get stunned silence. Nobody does that, and for good reason.

Your career goals -- like "I prefer 1) to stay long term at MBB, start my own business, or move to HF/trading/PE, with HF and trading being more preferred than PE over 2) a corp. strategy role" -- are very, very broad (for example, trading is absolutely nothing like PE, and neither is anything like in-house corporate strategy.), but all of them would be highly unlikely coming from IBM/BAH: you will have no chance at HF or PE, and corporate strategy would be essentially impossible, too. In fact, everything that you can do after IBM or BAH you can also do after MBB, and being as you seem unsure about what you want to do long-term, willingly sticking yourself in IT/systems work would just be silly.

If, in your mind, job security at a lesser firm is worth closing the short-run door on all of those goals, then by all means decline the MBB offer. We're just giving advice, and even though the advice has been unanimous, you don't have to take it.

But to answer your questions:
-A non-IT group at BAH is better than an IT group unless you actually like IT, but they're very niche, and whatever prestige BAH used to have went with Boox & Co. when they split.
-I have no idea what "How would you compare 1-8 in exit opps" means, as your 8 questions aren't about exit opps, but MBB exit options blow away working at BAH/IBM themselves. You have choices in what you do after MBB, and if you have any interest in PE/etc., most people would say that's better than IBM/BAH. That goes for non-financial exit opps like corporate strategy.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Jan 2, 2011 - 7:32pm

We are beating a dead horse here because you asked your questions right out of the gate and they were answered properly. There is no way to sugercoat and make IBM/BAH >> MBB. Some people here broke down the reasons several times, and you, with your mind totally set on IBM/BAH keep making people repeating their answers with a small hope that they might make your justification look right.

It's ridiculous that you are scared of competition in your first job where making the top 25%-50% is much easier than your 'future goals'. What makes you even think that being mediocre allows people to move up in a competitive landscape? Go look up your high school friends who were ranked around 40 - 60 percentile, look where they ended up in 10 years. Now think that level of sorting out happening for next 40 years. It's a rat race and the cream keeps rising to the top. You let off your foot off the pedal, you fall behind. You want to get settled down, buy a 4BR/2BA in sub-urb and have 2 kids in next 3 years, you get complacent. If you can't handle competition/job security issues now, you can never handle it in PE/HF environment.

Array
 
Jan 2, 2011 - 9:32pm

@2x2Matrix: Thank you for the clarification. I must say that what I would be doing at IBM mostly will not be IT work, if that changes anything in your analysis. I guess not everything in questions 1-8 apply to exit opps from MBB, since question 7 is less relevant in that context. But most of what is in 1-8 are still at least partially relevant in that they contribute to the appeal of a job.

 
Jan 3, 2011 - 12:30pm

happy.monkey:
I must say that what I would be doing at IBM mostly will not be IT work, if that changes anything in your analysis.

No, it doesn't. I thought that was clear in my previous post.

There are a lot of minor pieces of information that might separate your offer from the general perception of these places, but none of them will make IBM or BAH better than MBB. IBM could give you a partner office and let you sell federal government secrets and the answer still wouldn't change.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
 
Jan 2, 2011 - 9:45pm

@abacab: I did not repeatedly ask the same questions when they have already been answered. I asked about exit opps from MBB versus IBM/BAH themselves, whereas previous answers related to exit opps from MBB versus exit opps from IBM/BAH. It has also been assumed that IBM is automatically IT. In this case, IBM is not mostly IT. In this situation, it is reasonable to ask about IBM in a non-IT context, since previous posters answered assuming IBM was IT.

In terms of job security, higher risk should translate into a higher reward. Unless someone actually makes it into really lucrative fields such as HF/trading/PE, MBB may not have an astronomically higher reward than IBM/BAH while it does have significantly higher risk. On the other hand, the risk/reward ratio does work for a field such as HF, because the huge fortune that could be won from success outweighs clearly enough the downside from failure.

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