Starting All Over!?!?


Gentlemen and Ladies,

Not really sure where to put this, since its not a job related, nor Business (MBA) school related question really. So I'll ask the people who know the industry better than I.

In short, I want to get into consulting. You may decide that my "story" is ridiculous and stupid, but I am truly searching for advice...

I am debating on starting all over; Academically speaking. In high school, i could have cared less about academia. I was in the 45th percentile in my HS class. I went to a large state school for undergrad and majored in a science (bio/chem). I partied alot, only did a handful of small internships because it was what everyone else did. I graduated in 4.5 years after changing majors from one science to another, and then finished with a GPA just shy of 3.0. Granted the gpa is low, but it wasnt all related to partying/girls and playtime.

I realized late my senior year, that yes, although i would graduate and all, i felt i truly learned nothing of value and that I truly didnt like my professional prospects related my certain hard science degree. So i packed my car, drove out west and got a masters at another large state school, partially on their dime. I decided to change it up and got an M.S. in Tourism/Recreational Business. The degree was fun, and was easy to me. I finished with a gpa between 3.8-3.9. It dawned on me that when Im studying something I enjoy, I focus a whole lot more.

So im my ripe old age of 24, I have a BS i wont use, and an MS im still not all that thrilled about. However, some of the Tourism/Rec Business classes spun my wheels and I spent alot of time with the business professors discussing further options for another MS potentially. They saw some potential and noticed the intensity to which I was drawn to business/consulting. But alas, that was my 2nd year of my Masters. The epiphany comes late again. So as of now, i have since moved back home, living with my folks like too many graduates my age.

I want better for myself. I see the error in my youthful ways but its hard to monetize that notion. I do enjoy learning (especially things I enjoy like business/stocks/finance and consulting work) and I have had serious conversations with loved ones/family friends about going BACK to get another undergrad, a B.BA. or a Bachelors in Econ/Finance at a target/semi target school.

I dont see my errors from my late teens as wasting an opportunity, as much as I didnt know any better. I was young, naive, and truly didnt understand what was infront of me.

I am lucky enough to be engaged to a wonderful woman who has makes a great living, and a family who understands my concerns with this issue. I do not want a DeVry MBA or a Pheonix Degree. I want a target schools Diploma, and a better life for myself. Im still young, and can finish in 3 years fulltime taking winter and summer courses. This puts me at 27-28 when im done...

Without mocking me... Am I crazy? Has anyone done this with success? I dont like the life im leading and my current level of education wont allow me into the consulting field. Sure I can get that 35-40k a year job, but Id rather become a cop than get just whatever job is available.

Im a smart kid. Ive pre-tested my GMAT between 650-670 right now... Im not an idiot.
How will consulting firms look at a kid like me when i have a BS, an MS, and working towards another Bachelors on my resume come internship time? Could I leave them out? Is that lying? I dont need to party anymore and can truly focus and get a good start on a good career before im 30...

I cannot see myself become John Doe. That being said, I dont want to become Warren Buffet either. But I want a respectible living, something I enjoy doing and something that challenges me.

So fire away; but please be atleast considerate to the fact that this is an honest and heartfelt issue... I need some advice. I can read all the Graham, P.Lynch and HBR books I want... but it cant erase poor decisions of a 17year old kid.

Comments (37)

Nov 27, 2010 - 11:38pm

Cool story, bro.

With that being said, I truly appreciate such a sincere post. Even though, you made your mistakes, I believe this has reshaped you into a more aware man, which I truly believe is the mark of success.

I can't offer any good advice about earning another degree, so I ask you if it is possible to get an MBA or graduate degree in economics or finance in your situation from a well-known institution. Something I can offer good advice on is searching for companies/firms that are in the bio/chem industry such as biotech. A senior analyst under whom I intern received his undergrad in chemistry from a state school and his grad degree in finance from a state school. He just hired an associate who got her undergrad in biology from a city college. I will try to see if he needs someone else. PM me.

I apologize in advance if it doesn't work out, but know the associate he hired completed an internship of a few weeks and is an extremely, extremely attractive Peruvian woman :)

Good luck,


- Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered. - The harder you work, the luckier you become. - I believe in the "Golden Rule": the man with the gold rules.
Nov 28, 2010 - 12:54am

are you sure you want to do consulting? most people automatically assume that its a glamour job much like banking...but its tough shit, like really tough shit. i would not waste my time getting another degree, unless its an MBA or something...who cares if your not target. i am not target, went to state school for my bachelors and masters...and have been getting plenty of interviews, including already an offer from a big consulting firm. you will have to convince firms that your smart....mainly because your gpa is not going to look good. although your grad gpa is solid, your undergrad is shitty (no offense). but if you cant get into a firm right now, try working in the industry you want to consult for and then try again with experience. fyi too, getting "target" degrees will require more than wanting them. there are not that many target schools and enough applicants for each. you will have your work cut out trying to get into "target" schools. however, amidst my cold hard perspective, do not give up. i swear to you when i say this....a 3 months ago i thought i had no chance getting into consulting. then after incredible determination, busting my ass in the recruiting and networking, i landed 4 interviews and have gotten 1 offer so far. i am not sure what industry your looking to do, maybe tourism? if so, find a firm and talk to someone in that firm, like a recruiter and see what they have to say. the more you build a relationship with them, eventually they may give you an interview. good luck

Nov 28, 2010 - 2:27am

This is a really interesting question. First, a couple of things that I think are pretty obvious. First, your resume will look very unusual with a BS, MA, and now another BA. Second, you obviously can't leave off the other degrees or they'll wonder why you're so old. Third, you're definitely not bschool material yet - you need some work experience first.

To answer your question directly, I would NOT recommend that you pursue the second Bachelors. It's going to look weird to consulting firms, and now that you have this MA they're not going to understand your decision to redo it (not to mention the fact that you'll be pushing the boundaries of being too old for a post-college position). I would expect that they'd just toss your application with a background that unusual.

However, if you think that you now have the stats/etc. to get into a better undergrad school, you should also be able to get into a better Masters program somewhere else. With a masters, you need to be careful, as it won't open doors if it's not from a good school. You mentioned that your second year of your masters is done, but you can always try for somewhere better and do another one.

If neither of those pans out, you need to start working in a job that will position you well for business school. The big consulting firms won't be on the table, so within consulting you're left with boutiques, and even these will be difficult. Ske7ch mentioned leveraging your science degree - I agree completely. Your tourism/business masters might also be of use; I know a dude who worked in hotel administration before eventually winding up at a top bschool and then MBB. The bottom line is to find the job that will give you the most responsibility and then do well there; with all that, it's conceivable that you'd get into a respectable bschool.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
Nov 28, 2010 - 6:04am

Your objective is to enter a career in consulting, but you seem to be taking the hardest route to get there.

Yes, you might be able to start from scratch, spend another several years studying, and break in when you're pushing 30 and with two Bachelor's degrees. But why bother going through all that pain?

Your best bet would be to go and do something extraordinary for the next few years, then apply to a B-school. I say 'extraordinary' because you'll need to a) impress MBA admissions enough despite your average academics, and b) get enough money to pay for it.

If you get a good MBA, you'll have a fair shot at a consulting firm. If you fail or change your mind, however, this route keeps your options open again, and will save you the pain of going through undergrad school all over again.

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:05am

OP, I don't have any advice, but I will tell you that you're not alone. I also went too far in one direction, and am now trying to get on a new course. I will say this, going back to school for a bachelor's, when you already have a masters, is often a waste of time. Especially, since many master's degrees don't require a specific bachelor's (in other words, do a master's in finance/business, as opposed to a bachelor's).

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:20am

Take a step back and try to put everything in are only in your 20's. Plenty of people try various things only to realize that they are not interested in a particular field and/or are not cut out for a specific job. You can fail and wallow well into your 30's and still lead a successful life. People are constantly reinventing themselves and you should not get discouraged.

1) Do not get another BA, it will be a waste of time and money
2) Do get a job, it doesnt have to be your dream job but you need to find a place where you can work for 3 years to gain experience and earn some cash
3) Do get involved in extracurricular activities (ie. volunteer, community service, local consulting/finance clubs, sports, etc)
4) Study for your GMAT and take at least 2 more times trying to get 700+ to off set your undergrad worries if you dont. You can still get into a decent MBA program with a 3.0 and a 670 if you craft a good enough story.
5) Be grateful you have a bunch of supportive people in your life
6) Don't get discouraged
7) Contact family friends for advice, reach out to alumni and start applying to jobs

Best of luck to you. You will laugh about this in a few years

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:22am


To answers your question, Yes. I do want to get into consulting. I dont see it as an "easy" way out to get into business or the "i cannot do IB so consulting it is" thing either. Case base learning was highly effective for me in my MS program and not to sound cliche or ridiculous, but ya, i think i can be good at it.

You mention convince firms im smart, well how can I do that when Ive applied for a few gigs and not getting emails returned. I truly do fear that my non-traditional resume with weak UGrad GPA screams "unemployed so he is spraying at everything and praying". I have started looking at some boutiques, and if anyone has some firms they can think of between NYC-Boston and the rest of those states, PM me and we can chat. Ive started out looking at some of the "lower" tier bigger firms, the Deloittes/PWC/Accentures of the world.


You mentioned potentially another masters since I think i could get into their UG program. I live between NYC and Maine, so there are a bunch of quality target schools around. Obviously I understand my MBA credentials are nonexistent. Im not a fool to think i can qualify for top 15 mba, yet anyway. I think with some experience and a solid resume/essays, that i have a story to tell and top 15 isnt that far of a stretch, but thats another convo.

So, my question to you is... MS in what? Econ? Finance? _______? I understand some schools are better at placing consulting people vs IB people, so when if Im looking at Consulting future... are there schools i should look at more? For ex, i looked at MIT even though its known for quant guys (i heard that a few times on here) yet their MBA site says they place more in consulting than IB.... I know the Booths/H/S/W place EVERYWHERE... but im trying to be realistic and see what will give me the best shot. Would a Dartmouth be it with their smaller class size and fantastic network of alumni? Sorry, i feel im rambling here...

I also doubt consulting work inside F500 companies is too far out of reach, no?


What do you mean by extraordinary? Ive debated on starting an online business, but i dont see that being extraordinary and putting me on top. Ive kicked around the idea of doing Teach for America for 2 years.

Nov 28, 2010 - 8:33pm

International Pymp:
you need to start your own company

I'm not sure why you're missing the clearest route to doing what you want to do. Clearly, no one will hire you without X, Y, or Z. Why not prove your worth by starting your own company? Instead of wasting 3 years of time and resources, devote that instead to starting a consulting firm that utilizes what you learned in your master's program. It doesn't make sense to backtrack when you're at your prime. Understand that you fucked up and do whatever it takes to make sure the business gets off the ground.

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:33am

i didnt literally mean convince them..i guess i dunno what i was saying. all i am saying is that your ugpa is low, which will definitely hurt you....however it is not to say that you cant break into a firm. you have a unique background. what i mean by convincing is you have to sell yourself. you have to convince a firm that you will be a value to them and contribute to their bottom line. you have to convince them that you can be alone on a project or on a very small team and still have a meaningful impact. i understand it is hard to convince that to someone until you start working, but just make sure you show everyone you want it really bad. its like in the movie want to be recognized when someone looks up the word determination. i dont know of too many boutiques in the northeast area, but firms like deloitte, pwc, accenture, etc. have minimum gpa standards..i dont know if you fall in them. your masters does not sure of the others. also, if your looking for entry level, you will definitely have a tougher time with big name firms since they have done most of their recruiting already and pretty much have given out most offers. if you search this site, i am sure youll be able to find many boutiques in your area. but do not be discouraged, just starting busting your ass in networking. cold call, set up informational interviews, apply online, email random partners and employers, visit their offices, call their HR, do whatever you can to get them to notice you. as soon as you have someone sit down and look over your resume with you, youve already jumped a big hurdle.

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:43am

Do you HAVE to work in consulting? You said before you don't want to be John Doe, but not Buffet either.

If you're looking for jobs where you'll end up making 200K after 15-20 years of work, you can always look into networking your way into a back-office position at a BB right now. EDs in Ops and Compliance can do very well. I personally know a compliance VP of JPM who pulls in close to 300K and hes 34. This obviously isn't normal, but possible.

If this isn't "challenging" enough for you, have you looked into a sales career? This is a whole different animal, but can be very lucrative. With your science background, pharm sales may even be possible. This career is challenging, and you routinely hit six figures within four years or less.

If these aren't interesting enough for you, you should talk to Anthony. about MSF programs, he would know which programs place into consulting, if any, and plenty of these programs place into MM banks.

I'm just throwing ideas out here, because I know what it's like to feel lost. I wouldn't do the second BS thing because you could probably spend four years getting some other work experience and trying to network into some type of consulting role with more success.

Good luck, man. Just work hard, and everythings going to work out. It always does. If you really want consulting you can do it eventually, but remember there are plenty of other good careers that you won't routinely read about on WSO.

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:58am

yea dont be discouraged if you dont get into a firm now or two years from now. get some experience and then youll be a valuable candidate. like you said, your young....and they will adjust pay to experience level so its not like your missing out on that

Nov 28, 2010 - 11:12am


'Extraordinary' might have been taking it too far. I suppose what I'm saying is that you need to do something that stands out enough to get you into a good B-School. This could be:

  • start your own business (and do pretty well)
  • join a bluechip firm and become one of the top performers in your cohort
  • go out to africa and work in a leadership role for a charity for a couple of years
  • etc

You get the idea.

The goal would be to get onto a good MBA and then to join consulting firms in their MBA intake.

Nov 28, 2010 - 11:30am

I think in your case a 2nd undergraduate degree is a waste of time. If you knew you wanted to be a biochemist, or an engineer, or some other professional which required a specific educational background, I'd say go for it. But consulting does not have a mandated curriculum as a barrier to entry, so it's simply not necessary to go back to undergrad.

Go do something spectacular in the 3 years you would have spent back in school.

Nov 28, 2010 - 12:19pm

i'm sorry if i'm repeating someone's words here - i just have a few short words i'll put succinctly in the hopes they somehow help you.

if you want consulting/other-6-figure-management-related-job, simplest way i see is getting a good mba.
to get an mba you'll need
a) impressive work experience and
b) a good gmat.

start seeing if anyone you know can help you out - networking is the business world's little cheat-sheet. you can ace the test without it, but you'll be of an exceptional minority. (tho i must say i never used one - not really anyway...)
try using your degrees to get into some job at a junior management position, work your ass off, and see where you stand 3 years from now.

good luck

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."
Nov 28, 2010 - 3:08pm

You can go be a Pharmacist and make $100K+ easily starting off (won't be making $400K though). From the caliber of many of my friends who got in, doesn't seem to be that challenging to get into those schools anymore.

Nov 28, 2010 - 6:59pm

You can go be a Pharmacist and make $100K+ easily starting off (won't be making $400K though). From the caliber of many of my friends who got in, doesn't seem to be that challenging to get into those schools anymore.

This is actually super good advice. You can easily make 6 figures out of school pretty much anywhere in the United States. A steady, easy 9-5 that pays 6 figs will open your life up to pursue things you really enjoy or to start your own side business.

Nov 28, 2010 - 8:42pm

Virginia Tech 4ever:
You can go be a Pharmacist and make $100K+ easily starting off (won't be making $400K though). From the caliber of many of my friends who got in, doesn't seem to be that challenging to get into those schools anymore.

This is actually super good advice. You can easily make 6 figures out of school pretty much anywhere in the United States. A steady, easy 9-5 that pays 6 figs will open your life up to pursue things you really enjoy or to start your own side business.

Its good advice but Id have to go back to school for that... in a totally unrelated field to what I really want.

How would Teach For America look on a B-school app and/or entry level Consulting gig? TFA pays half way decent, gives 5k after each yr to offset loans and pays for the interest on your current loans... thoughts??

Nov 28, 2010 - 7:46pm

I mentioned getting another masters, but I didn't necessarily mean an MBA. If you get into Booth or Tuck, just go, but with your current work experience and grades - like you seem to understand - that's likely not on the table. It doesn't really matter what you get the masters in, but some kind of economics is definitely the most common route (people with MSF degrees don't seem to show up in consulting). It would have to be from somewhere pretty good, too. UVA has a MS in Commerce or something that might be worth looking into, but I'm not an expert on masters programs. When I was doing my MBB interviews, though, I met a lot of other interviewees who were doing masters degrees in econ at Yale/Columbia/etc.

Most masters programs at top institutions let you access undergraduate recruiting, so you can apply for the consulting jobs that most people shoot for right from college. Some firms won't like you because you're unconventional, but some won't mind. That said, don't do the additional education route if you can't go somewhere good, as a shitty econ masters won't help you. The opportunity cost of another year or two of schooling is considerable, too, not to mention the actual financial cost of attending the program, and I'm obligated to tell you not to do it if you don't enjoy the material.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
Nov 28, 2010 - 8:58pm

You need to have a realistic assessment of want vs possible. If you can just hit a reset button and do everything all over again easily, everyone would do it.

Teach for America or Peace Corps are great, but I'd suggest you look up some articles around how competitive they are. MBB, MBA, Teach for America, etc. all are probably around <0.1% odds for you right now. Given you are already 24 and engaged, you don't have a lot of time/resource to try to find the right reset button and repeat 4-5 years of work.

Even though I don't want to beat on your Masters, in most State Us, Tourism/Recreational Business is a purely Football players major. I actually have a friend who majored in it and she is currently Admin Assistant for a small business. I won't value the Masters in that area much higher either, and you probably figured that out as well.

The reason I bring it up is, even though Masters from a Top School sounds great, getting in to Columbia Grad School in a competitive program will be equally hard with a low UGPA and soft Masters. So instead of trying to plan for scenarios that are not a sure thing even for those who rarely made mistakes in life (academic/career related), I'd suggest focusing on realistic solutions that will put you in a better situation than now, whatever that might be.

Nov 28, 2010 - 10:39pm

I understand all of the options are not going to be easy... hence why ive kicked around starting over completely... there has been some good advice given here that has got me thinking about alot.

At he same time... i understand I cannot do H/S/W or MBB. Im not foolish. I DO want an mba, but not right now. I know I need experience, first and foremost.

Im trying to figure out what will not only be best for 2011 and 2012, but also 2020, 2030 etc.

I dont want a job. I want a career. Id like to get some thoughts/advice one whether a MS in Econ/Finance from a semi-target would be better than trying to network and work my way into F500 back office/Boutique Consulting firms and the like...

I know its not going to be easy. But i find it hard to believe the only consultants out there, are people who knew they wanted to be consultants/bankers/business people at age 17 when they originally decided their major. Maybe im optimistic and unrealistic in this sense, but i have a hard time believing that.

Nov 28, 2010 - 11:27pm

Second the startimng of own business suggestions. Have a hs classmate who never took schhol seriously but is now clearking 400k annually with his own small business. Work for yourself, not for others. If you want to hit the reset button, do it for your own benefit.

Nov 28, 2010 - 11:30pm

"But i find it hard to believe the only consultants out there, are people who knew they wanted to be consultants/bankers/business people at age 17 when they originally decided their major. Maybe im optimistic and unrealistic in this sense, but i have a hard time believing that."

You're correct. But most consultants have relevant experience and specific areas of expertise. You need to work, brother.

Nov 29, 2010 - 12:07am

Teach for America is really fucking competitive. This is part of the reason its so highly regarded by b-schools and firms, banks, etc and because it is so highly regarded, that makes it hard to get into. Its a cycle. As far as the 'only doing it to be a teacher' that's silly. its community service and volunteering your time for a greater good which is always a big plus on the resume. It can set you apart and give you a 2 year hiatus from the grind of the business world without compromising your resume/leaving a gap

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Nov 29, 2010 - 12:44am


I don't know anything about the field of "Tourism/Recreational Business," but surely there are some companies that might find such a degree attractive? Just off the top of my head, have you considered management positions at major hotel chains, local/state tourism bureaus, online travel agencies?

The goal here is to get work experience, without which you will be a very weak candidate for a top MBA program, let alone MBB. You seem to have learned a lot recently about how elite consulting recruiting works, but you should shunt that knowledge to the side for now and focus on building a track record at any kind of business job that you do qualify for.

Best of luck.

Nov 30, 2010 - 11:46am


Im sure there are companies that find it attractive, but my heart just is not in it. I have this bad knack for finding out after the fact. Its not a bad degree, i know guys who love it. But my heart just isnt in it to go that route.

I may just have to bite the bullet though... got dinged by another one of the big 4 advisory firms in which i had contacts in.

"...his background is not something we would be able to leverage currently in this market."


Nov 30, 2010 - 5:07pm

OP, what have you decided on?

Think other posters were pretty clear, but don't return for a bachelors - best bet would be to get a second, relevant, Masters. Curating the best advice and making it actionable.
Nov 30, 2010 - 8:22pm

A second more relevant masters seems to be the more logical of the two.

However that being said, if im having troubles getting interviews/opportunities, i question my ability to get in an MS in Finance (example) from a target.

Only good thing is timing i guess. I have some time to work on applications for next septembers semester and still try to work for interviews i guess...

thoughts on certain target/semi targets to look at in the NY-NewEngland area? (ive messaged Anthony, waiting to hear back). How applicable will an MSF be for consulting? Are there better MS programs for that? Schools that cater to Consulting people?

Nov 30, 2010 - 11:21pm
  1. Get a job. Do you have any work experience? A ton of what you do as a consultant (Excel, solving problems, etc) you will do with any desk job that requires a brain. If you have the aptitude to be a successful consultant, you can find ways to make your company better (essentially what consultants do), that will get you promotions + look great on a b-school app. Unless you can get into a baller master's program, I think you're really spinning your wheels and wasting money.

  2. Personal pet peeve here - Teach for America sucks as a resume booster, unless you actually want to be a teacher. If you're just doing it for a shot at banking/consulting, your life will be absolute hell for two years (even if you're doing it for the right reasons, your life will be hell... just a more tolerable type of hell). And at the end, if your heart wasn't in it, you probably won't have the kinds of scores/TFA support/etc to actually land a solid gig.

(That said, TFA is fantastic if you actually want to teach kids. I'm doing it now.)

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