Pre or post-MBA: Who has more to prove?

PEsomeday's picture
Rank: Monkey | 47

Pretty straightforward question that I think might provoke some interesting discussion. At the top consulting firms, who has more to prove: analysts/associates hired straight out of undergrad, or consultants hired out of business school? (For this discussion, let's consider new hires who neither interned nor worked full-time at the firm before business school.)

It seems that at most firms, the A's and C's go through similar training, and in many cases, both share the same consulting inexperience. It seems to me there's more downside risk that A's will say something really stupid in front of a client because of their likely lack of work experience. It also seems less likely that A's would have practical experience or expertise they could immediately contribute to a case team.

That said, many fresh MBA's may also lack that polish and experience, so perhaps the new A's and C's are not so different after all. And with a few years of work experience, plus (presumably) a top MBA, might C's be held to a higher immediate standard than A's right off the bat?

So, who has more to prove?

Comments (8)

Jul 13, 2011

Cs

Jul 13, 2011

C's. Higher pay, higher (and often more direct) responsibility, "older", and under more pressure (and also scrutiny) to be promoted.

Jul 13, 2011

Cs are expected to hit the ground running. As get a little extra time, even up to a year, to truly mature.

Jul 13, 2011

Standards for 2nd year Associates and 1st year Consultants seem pretty similar to me.

Jul 14, 2011
petergibbons:

Standards for 2nd year Associates and 1st year Consultants seem pretty similar to me.

Makes sense -- any chance you could expand on what those standards are?

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Jul 14, 2011

From a staffing perspective, I see a lot of roles either looking for 2nd year A's or 1st year C's.

On a first case, A's and C's are both given a ton of oversight and forgiveness if they make mistakes. I think the curve is just expected to be steeper for C's.

The client-facing skills, as you pointed out, are the big difference between first year A's and first year C's. Right now, a C with around 1.5 years of experience is doing a sister module to mine...same analysis, same points of client contact, same level of responsibilty. The main difference is that my manager feels better about the C being alone with a client than he feels about me. I also end up asking more questions around what the right next steps are, C's are expected to figure more of that out on their own.

I know plenty of A's who are just as good, if not better, analytically, and more skilled with excel and power point.

Jul 14, 2011

At my firm, I would lump all the non-college hires together (PhDs, MBAs, industry hires) together and say for that group, there are definitely higher expectations, commensurate with the higher pay.

A second issue is that non-college hires who don't have previous experience in consulting, there is definitely the risk that they don't "get" consulting -- they might be a bit smater than average (PhDs) or have more in-depth knowledge (industry hires), but for a meaningful number of people these skills can work against them, and a non-trivial fraction of these people wash out.

A non-trivial number of college hires wash out too, but one generally has more options with them as they are cheaper.

Jul 14, 2011
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