Rejected by almost all firms, don't know what to do

I just received my rejection from Big D and the third and final MBB. I'm just numb. So far I've been rejected by OW, MBB, D, and LEK. I graduated from my undergrad with a pre-med-esque degree last year and decided I did not want to become a doctor and fell in love with consulting. I have a pretty decent GPA (3.5-3.6) from a good STEM school and really good leadership/extracurriculars + prestigious scholarships and am attending a top MSF/MiM program on the East Coast for the sole reason of gunning for MBB/top consulting firms. 

I did everything I could. Applied and got into one of the best masters programs, networked with over 100 people at all the firms, had partners refer me, had partners mentor me, bought all the books, videos, and did over 150 cases. I've had consultants from MBB tell me during practice cases that I am really good during cases (one even said that he blocked out 30 mins for a case and I did it in 15). Yet I couldn't even get past the games/resume screens at MB and the finally B destroyed me with an interviewer who seemed like he was about to pass out from exhaustion and that stupid Casey chat bot thing. 

I've handled a lot of things in my life, from coming to this country as an immigrant kid, to having brain surgery. But this hit me really hard. I put everything I had for the last 12 months into this. And now I have nothing but a trail of rejections and thousands of dollars of debt from the program.

I'm 25 years old with no idea on what to do next. I feel like I am already too old for entry level positions, particularly with I-banks (considered joining because I'm really good at finance and modelling, but again, age and not internship :( ).

Sorry for the rant and sorry if what I said feels all over the place. I'm just numb and defeated and I don't know what to do.

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Comments (27)

Oct 13, 2021 - 10:01pm

I don't exactly know how consulting recruiting works, but here are some thoughts:

  • Keep applying to a really wide array of firms
    • I've worked in IB and AM, and for some people who are adamant about working at top AMs, this happens to them
    • After a few years at a given firm, you'll likely be able to lateral if you're adamant about working at a top firm
  • This might be hard to hear, but there is probably something wrong in your recruiting process
    • Talk to friends or colleagues about how you can interview better or improve your resume
    • Ask for honest and direct advice; this may be difficult to hear at first, but will be instrumental to growth and getting these positions
    • If you are given a suggestion about what to change, I would strongly advice implementing it
      • This could be big or small, about interviews or resume, or anything else, but anything but a rejection is a positive right now

I wish you the best with your future efforts! Everyone here on WSO is rooting for you!

Oct 13, 2021 - 10:24pm

Thanks for your thoughtful response! I definitely always ask for feedback from everybody. Career services at my school just praises my case/fit interview abilities with very minimal feedback even though I know there are areas that need improvement. The only person that has given me great feedback other than this 1 professor is my gf. However I only had 1 interview and that was with BCG and the interviewer looked like he took 3 xanax while I was hyped up and smiling the whole time so who knows. Never got a chance to even show my casing abilities since they implemented that stupid chatbot thing. Mckinsey, I thought I aced the game but 4 weeks later rejected. Bain, resume screened. Deloitte, told me I had an interview in 36 hours while I was visiting my sick grandparents across the country and I had to take the interview jet-lagged and on no sleep. 

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Oct 14, 2021 - 2:24pm

For context on your mindset that 25 is too old for entry level positions, I've gotten a late start to my first job out of undergrad, worked for 2 years in consulting and when searching for lateral positions, including 1st year and 2nd year IB positions, no one cared I was older than most post-MBAs that have 2 years of pre-MBA experience under their belts.

Hope the above helps out with your mentality when approaching your current situation and let me know if you have any questions through PM!

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Oct 14, 2021 - 2:33pm

At my MM IB company in NYC, one of the 1st year full time analysts was a 28 year old woman who transitioned from residential real estate to investment banking. (Not even kidding). Graduated from University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in Real Estate and Marketing, worked for six years selling residential real estate. 

No clue how she did it, but she had no shame in being the oldest person on our analyst team. She loved every minute of it. You are definitely not too old.

Oct 14, 2021 - 3:11pm

I assume the pre-med-esque degree is something related to biomedical sciences, correct? In that case, leverage your existing knowledge base and aim for healthcare consultancies such as Putnam Associates, ClearView Partners, Health Advanced, Trinity Partners, IQVIA or Kx Advisors. You're more likely to get in given the relevant background vs. aiming for a generalist firm and it also gives you the chance to gain experience before re-recruiting (if you really want to) 12-18 months down the line.  

Oct 14, 2021 - 7:22pm

As someone who've been in the same boat (interned at a T2 firm and put in hundreds of hours on casing but still didn't get into my dream firm), I know how frustrated it must feel when you've given all you can and then get nothing but rejections. I think at this point actionable advice would be the most useful so here're my two cents:

  1. Most important thing-rejections do not mean anything other than that the firm did not choose you to join them. Luck plays such a huge role in interviews so DO NOT let the rejections break your confidence. If you've practiced so much and also getting positive feedback from your coaches, it means you have it in you. Just don't let the rejections destroy that. However, I would say one caveat here is that is you're getting rejected by all these different firms, it might worth asking feedback from different people and see what they think-there might be something in casing that you (and the coach) missed that led to the rejection. So, keep your confidence, but also take the time to reflect on your performance and (if possible) make it even better.
  1. Apply to as many consulting firms as you can that still have their applications open: to my knowledge, I think S& and EY-P are still accepting applications if you haven't applied to them already. Also, I'm mentioning the "big names" here but there're also a ton of boutique consulting firms out there. I noticed all the firms you listed are the "big" ones, so apply to as many firms as you can and keep in mind that "big names" are by no means "almost all firms" in the consulting industry.
  1. Look for opportunities outside of consulting. Think about what is it that makes you want to get into consulting and how can you find similar things in other industries. For example, if you love the strategic thinking part of consulting, then seeking strategic opportunities in corporate wouldn't be a bad option. I know looking for something other than consulting may sound very unappealing at this point when you've been so focused on consulting, but maybe you may instead find another career that you're deeply passionate about while doing this.

Feel free to ask any additional questions you may have, and best of luck!

Oct 14, 2021 - 10:28pm

I do not really know your specific market well enough to give you specific advice but as someone that recently got really fucked in life I will give some general advice.

1) The most important thing, you graduated from a good program in one of the richest countries in the world in a very wealthy time iin history. Sure, You feel a lot of social pressure/stigma to be as good as your peers, in the long run, this does not matter you are going to be fine. You are going to be fucking fine, just do not obsess about this.

2) I started working in corporate finance at 25, no one thought that was old, why? I had I reason why I started later than most people. What is your story? If you were smoking pot at home is very different than if you are someone that tried to be a professional athlete  and failed

3) If you graduated from a top STEM program I am pretty sure that you can apply much wider to careers focused on portfolio and not academic signaling roles. Build a good portfolio apply to swe/design/security. If you built a great site or find a security problem on IOS no one is going to care if you are 25 and do not have an internship, the problem with business is that is way too hard to show a sign that you are very good if you did not follow a traditional path unless you are a founder which is insanely risks btw.

4) I can not help you much, I am way more fucked than you, but feel free to pm me if you need to talk.

Most Helpful
Oct 15, 2021 - 12:26am

There is PwC, EY, KPMG, Roland Berger, BAH, A&M, Mercer ... this sounds like "I've tried a couple things and all out of options," not "I've tried everything and have no idea what to do." You've applied to only six firms. There are eight Ivy League schools and that isn't even including Stanford, MIT etc. Trust me that your career won't be ruined by going somewhere "second tier." Get off the consulting forums and into the real world.

You thought you could recruit for only top firms and it didn't turn out the way you hoped. That's ok. Don't throw away your career interest for the sake of your ego. Switching into banking would be pointless unless you are only chasing prestige, and even then the recruiting path with your background will be up a steep hill. Get your foot into the door somewhere in consulting. You have a 30-40+ year career ahead of you, and if you are truly excellent you'll rise to the top and have plenty of options going forward.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 8
Oct 15, 2021 - 12:30am

I just realized the forum and I should provide a source as to my background: formerly Manager at a "tier 2" consulting firm, currently a VP at a "tier 2" bulge bracket bank. So there is a bias that I admit, but you should be open to hearing experiences from people actually employed in the industry, rather than only judgmental students.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 1
Oct 15, 2021 - 1:01am

Consulting is not the only available industry out there. Apply to all kinds of jobs (business development, corporate finance, Big 4, startups, boutique firms, etc.). I was in the same place as you. I only was dead set on IB and prepared like crazy and didn't get any offers at all, so I went where I got an offer, and now I receive emails every week from recruiters offering me IB jobs and I ignore them cause I love the place I'm at.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 15, 2021 - 2:42am

I have a friend who was in your shoes. He is a genius but had no luck with recruiting. It's not just about you - think about your competition. Even if your case solving skills are on point, as long as the person you compete with has more relevant work experience than you, your chance shrinks. I would not associate my rejection with my interviewers being tired as this happens to every other candidate as well. This only makes you feel even more out of control. If you still want to work in consulting, try relocating, try smaller advisory shops, or try F500 in the field you like to gain real work experience and lateral back. 25 is a young age, and given that you just graduated from MSF, you are a fresh hire. Be proud of how far you have become, professionally and personally, and chooses the next step that aligns with how you want to see yourself in the next 5 years. Play the long game and you will get there. Good luck!

Oct 15, 2021 - 7:01pm

You're not too old man.Take a MM IB and grind. Who cares if your base is 85k instead of 105?Don't give up and honestly stop over studying- your interviewers prob thought you were a know it all / bsing.

Also, you were jet lagged? So what? Do you think you are doing to lateral later with a pause on 80 hour weeks? Not trying to be harsh but you seem to feel a bit sorry for yourself and I don't feel you are out of options

Oct 16, 2021 - 3:35pm

Of the firms you listed, how many did you interview with (outside of MBB)?

It's normal not to get an offer from an MBB (even for excellent candidates, most strike out in at least one interview). My guess is that there may be something in your resume/cover letter that held you back. Have you gotten any feedback on these things?

As for next steps, don't let the process discourage you. If consulting is your goal, transferring in from a tier 2 firm (EY, PWC, etc), a boutique firm,  or from an industry position is very feasible.

Oct 19, 2021 - 5:32pm

As others have mentioned, there are quite a few other T2 firms and boutiques, plus B4 firms, Accenture, etc.

But your main problem is you're way too single-minded. It can be very annoying when candidates "network" with everybody in the office, especially if those calls are awkward, inorganic, or repetitive. Faster is not better on cases. Academic credentials only get you in the door and won't impact interview results at all (and the MSF/MiM program wasn't necessary to get an interview). The bar for case performance is about the same for all entry-level roles, and that includes Ivy undergrads, HSW MBAs, YHS law, H/S MDs, top PhDs, experienced hires, etc., so you very well could've performed well, but just short of the bar.

Also, McK and BCG hire more A/Cs than BA/As and then they spend 2-4 years before getting promoted to M/PL, so most consultants in "entry-level" roles are older than you (and that's before considering the experienced A/C hires who are typically ~25).

If you really want to know what to do, apply to other consulting firms, or banks, or CF analyst roles, or other industry roles. You'll probably stop caring about MBB and if you still do, then apply after an MBA or as an experienced hire.

Oct 19, 2021 - 6:49pm

So sorry for the bad news. I know it is brutal to go through. However, it is not all for nothing! You've hustled the last 12 months, which will put you in a good position to get another attractive offer. If you are set on consulting TODAY there are plenty of other firms out there for you. However, you can also investigate other roles like corporate strategy, financial rotation programs, etc. and re-apply in a few years or go through the b-school route. Some of the best partners I ever worked with started their careers are no names first jobs. 

Remember the quote below.

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."

- Randy Pausch

Follow @crushingcases on Instagram for more consulting content, case study tips, and information on free case study resources!
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Oct 21, 2021 - 9:38pm

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