Tier 2 Consulting to HBS or SGSB?

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I'm a first year associate at a tier 2 consulting firm looking to lateral careers after business school. My ultimate goal is to go to HBS or SGSB and I am curious about my chances. I graduated summa cum laude (GPA ~3.8) with a humanities degree from a target (HYP) and have a 750 gmat score for additional context. In terms of career post MBA, I want to pursue corporate strategy or possibly my own startup, but that could easily change.

I know MBB consultants have a huge pipeline into HSB and SGSB, which my consulting firm does not possess (think OW/Deloitte/S&/LEK), but does my background give me a shot? I would not be sponsored either as I do not plan to return to the firm after my MBA.

Comments (35)

Nov 19, 2017

I assume "associate" refers to 1st year out of undergrad instead of a few years removed from an analyst program?

Either way, seems like you have a ~decent~ chance at getting interviews. Of course it's impossible to say given how hard admissions are these days. Of all T2 consultants, think you need this type of profile to get in.

Maybe someone with more knowledge can add insight though?

Nov 19, 2017

assuming you're a non-URM male it's going to be very tough without a hook but you'll be very strong for the other M7

Nov 19, 2017

Out of curiosity, what defines a "hook" for an MBA program? Is it similar to college admissions where your hook can be an interesting extracurricular activity at the highest level (like a varsity sport or musical instrument)? Or do business schools not care about college activities?

Nov 20, 2017

a hook as in elite D1/professional athlete, overcoming a significant tragedy in life, etc

Nov 20, 2017

GSB is tough, but my T2 firm has sent quite a few people to HBS without major "hooks". Good story for why MBA, strong performances, community involvement and leadership, good GMAT, etc.

Look at where your co-workers have gone to get a good sense. I would add I think community involvement is one of the major differentiators. My co-workers who didn't volunteer (whether it was mentoring, tutoring, or coaching youth baseball) basically capped out at Booth and Kellogg despite hitting the other notes (750+ GMAT, 3.7+ GPA, high performer, etc.), whereas those who did more outside of work were the ones who got into HBS, GSB, and Wharton

Nov 20, 2017
rrr21345:

GSB is tough, but my T2 firm has sent quite a few people to HBS without major "hooks". Good story for why MBA, strong performances, community involvement and leadership, good GMAT, etc.

Look at where your co-workers have gone to get a good sense. I would add I think community involvement is one of the major differentiators. My co-workers who didn't volunteer (whether it was mentoring, tutoring, or coaching youth baseball) basically capped out at Booth and Kellogg despite hitting the other notes (750+ GMAT, 3.7+ GPA, high performer, etc.), whereas those who did more outside of work were the ones who got into HBS, GSB, and Wharton

Interesting observation. That's my concern as well - I haven't really been involved in anything outside of work - that's why I'm capping my dream schools at Booth/Kellogg. It does seem like unless you saved a village from AIDS - you're not getting into HBS.

Nov 20, 2017

The saving a village from AIDs is more for GSB; everyone I know there has some pretty amazing background / achievements / outside involvement, though there are still some "normal" type people who get in too.

I think for HBS, and especially Wharton, showing some community involvement with something you care about goes a long way. My co-worker recently went to HBS and his main thing was coaching youth baseball to underprivileged kids in Boston.

Basically, if someone asked you what you do outside of work, it shouldn't just be "working out and drinking beers with buddies." Adding a serious hobby (e.g., marathons or something) is better. Doing something helpful you sincerely care about is probably the best.

Nov 20, 2017
rrr21345:

The saving a village from AIDs is more for GSB; everyone I know there has some pretty amazing background / achievements / outside involvement, though there are still some "normal" type people who get in too.

I think for HBS, and especially Wharton, showing some community involvement with something you care about goes a long way. My co-worker recently went to HBS and his main thing was coaching youth baseball to underprivileged kids in Boston.

Basically, if someone asked you what you do outside of work, it shouldn't just be "working out and drinking beers with buddies." Adding a serious hobby (e.g., marathons or something) is better. Doing something helpful you sincerely care about is probably the best.

Is this for true for HBS/GSB - or for every M7 school? If I have stellar stats, but no ECs - what's my ceiling? I think I could get into a M7 school. But now I'm not sure.

Nov 20, 2017

ECs don't really matter, big time admissions myth.

Nov 21, 2017
Frank Slaughtery:

ECs don't really matter, big time admissions myth.

What's your source of info?

Nov 21, 2017

attended an M7 with minimal ECS after college, many friends attended M7s including HBS/GSB and very few if any did a significant amount of volunteer work. if you've done something extraordinary like started a charity that raised 7 figures for cancer research, this will help a ton. dime a dozen type of one hour a week commitments aren't really going to move the needle. the majority of HBS/GSB types who previously spent 90 hours a week at a MF don't have the time to save the world.

Nov 21, 2017

You probably should have clarified that ECs probably don't matter much for IB/PE types who work very long hours, which makes sense because it isn't realistic for them to do it all. It depends on the candidate.

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Nov 21, 2017
Frank Slaughtery:

attended an M7 with minimal ECS after college, many friends attended M7s including HBS/GSB and very few if any did a significant amount of volunteer work. if you've done something extraordinary like started a charity that raised 7 figures for cancer research, this will help a ton. dime a dozen type of one hour a week commitments aren't really going to move the needle. the majority of HBS/GSB types who previously spent 90 hours a week at a MF don't have the time to save the world.

Lol dude you founded your own company. Of course you would get into a top school.

Best Response
Nov 26, 2017

EC's fall into four buckets:

Top tier: Saved part of the world (i.e. founded a charity that has a sustainable donor base or ran a group of multiple people who made a significant impact on a macro level)
This can move the needle for top schools and can offset other parts of your app.

Second tier: YoY involvement and leadership role/ongoing mentoring
This checks the box, no more discussion, can offset another area that is borderline weak but probably not; you're not going to be ranked vs other students based on this sort of 'expected' EC experience.

Third tier: Spotty EC's, probably signed up a year ago to put something on for b-school
This doesn't really check the box but they won't throw out a good application based on this.

Fourth tier: No EC's
This is a red flag and can ding you.

At the end of the day, 100% agree that EC's are the least important admittance criteria, while schools tend to indicate that they're one of the most (it's good PR). Also agree that it isn't as important for blue chip candidates (HYPSetc-IB-MF), they just need to put something, anything on the line.

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Nov 21, 2017

With the right stats, you will very likely get into an M7 (a girl from my high school got into Kellogg recently and I was quite surprised).

However ECs do matter when it comes to HSW and if you're a less pedigreed applicant (e.g., T2 consulting). I have two co-workers that present a pretty good comparison; they applied in two separate years, went to the same Ivy League school, were both ~3.8 GPA, both 750-760 GMAT, both top performers. One got into HBS, Wharton, Booth, the other had no interview invites for HBS/Wharton and got into Booth/Kellogg. HBS guy had a lot of community involvement outside of work, the other one was an amateur hobbyist but otherwise didn't do much.

I'll report back myself later. I got interviews to HBS, Wharton, MIT, and Booth this cycle (rejected by GSB though), and I think my overall story plus extracurriculars are what have set me apart so far (3.5 GPA and 750 GMAT, asian american male)

Nov 21, 2017
Nov 20, 2017

Again, why don't you just do quick search on LinkedIn?

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Nov 29, 2017

I give this advice all the time, and it's always incredible to me how often people respond incredulously.

trying to make applying to b-school less bad at https://www.admitbrain.com/

Nov 20, 2017

I've always been curious, why do people from HYP want to shell out $200k for more networking? HYP undergrads are likely higher caliber on average and are more diverse in interests. Also, neither corporate strategy nor a startup require you to have an MBA so it doesn't sound like a career requirement either... Is it just for more prestige?

Nov 21, 2017

this is a really good point- sure go get an mba if you want to go back to consulting, but you already have the brand name, the consulting exp, and can just go do anything NOW

doesn't make sense imo

Nov 23, 2017

The more accomplished you are, the more accomplished you want to become. HYP undergrads will try to get into HBS to make differentiate themselves even more and feel even more accomplished.

Nov 26, 2017

It's still the easiest way to do a total career pivot, even from a top undergrad.

There are dividends down the road as well. I spoke to a lot of older alums when I was making my decision (I didn't go to HYP - but for perspective). They almost unilaterally thought that the true value of their MBA came in their mid to late career, where they were building their own professional services firms or moving from mid level to senior management. In this case, having a more diverse network base from undergrad is less of an advantage than knowing a few hundred people from a top MBA that have risen in a similar track (i.e. more folks in senior roles in the types of places you would want to transition to late career). It opened more doors for them down the road.

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Nov 21, 2017

i had tier 1 work experience (GS/MS IBD to top MF PE), 760+ GMAT 3.8+ GPA from a target school - no interview at HBS, going to end up at wharton most likely....my consultant's view was it was my lack of EC's or desire to save the world that likely kept me out of HBS (other applicants from my fund who are saving the world did get the interviews).

Nov 26, 2017

I've seen at least 5 people get into HBS who probably had no business being at an M7 (i.e. were waitlisted or dinged by other M7 schools). I think of all the top schools, HBS is the most likely to set aside stats (assuming you're above their floor) to pick up a candidate they find "interesting". That probably hurts the IB/consulting crowd most as there's no shortage of MBB folks who've run marathons and fed the homeless.

The avg. (for HBS) people I've seen get in all had either what was described above as tier 1 ECs, or unexpected career success. Winning awards and being featured on the news for mentorship programs, overseas work, or really crazy career ascents at F500 type firms, where climbing the ladder is incredibly slow.

If I had to generalize, I'd say that HBS stands in between Wharton, which will take you w/ the right stats, and SGB, which wants the stats, elite work experience, AND tier 1 ECs, for the most part.

Nov 26, 2017

What about Tuck? How much emphasis does your school place on ECs?

Nov 27, 2017

Not much. From what I've seen, they're more focused on resume, mostly because they don't make exceptions for work experience, and are big on consulting and corporate placements.

Lately they've been pushing up their GMAT, but those are going up across the board now that folks can see/cancel their scores ahead of time.

Once you get past HSW, I'd say the value of ECs falls off a (relative) cliff. These schools have entire classes to fill, want your $200K, and only need a few genuine "stars" for the brochures.

Nov 27, 2017

This man speaks the truth.. MBA schools have a lot of seats to fill, and there aren't that many people out there with the ideal combination of strong work experience, good college gpa, strong GMAT, good interpersonal skills / polish, with insightful application essays. Schools have to compromise on certain metrics that aren't as 'crucial' to post mba career placements. For example, MBB consulting cares about your GMAT when screening resumes. Hence top MBA schools' increasing focus on admitting high GMAT scorers, regardless of one's shortcomings in other metrics. (like college gpa, extra curricular, etc)

I just spoke to several of classmates from my college who have done quite well in their careers. The very successful guys with top tier jobs aren't even thinking about doing MBA. I think people's perception of MBA or grad school in general have shifted, post financial crisis. with insane cost / tuition increases for MBAs in recent years, I suspect many people are more cautious about making the jump, and many people don't even bother taking GMAT saying 'B-school is too expensive and ROI ain't there so I won't bother'.

For example, I was the ONLY person from the back office / mid office gig at my hedge fund that applied to top MBA programs in recent years. (one of larger funds) My bosses were initially clueless on how to write MBA rec's and didn't understand why I was willing to quit a six figure salary job to go back to school. Surprisingly many people working in mediocre jobs (accounting, back / middle office finance, tier 3-4 consulting, etc.) don't even bother applying to grad schools. They just become complacent with steady easy paycheck.

Nov 28, 2017

Wharton doesn't care about EC's. The entire application is pretty much a stats portal.

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Nov 26, 2017

I am not sure about HBS or Stanford. I didn't bother applying to those places because I knew I'd be wasting those precious hundreds of dollars submitting my apps there. I got into several top 15 MBA schools though, despite having pretty mediocre stats. 3.2 gpa from a target undergrad, 750 GMAT, and back office / mid office work experience at a large hedge fund. (also worked at Deloitte tech consulting b4) My work experience is as average as it gets, and I had zero extra curriculars since I graduated from high school. lol.

I know many dudes that worked in sales at my company, who weren't exactly very bright, many of whom managed to get into multiple top 15 MBA schools. With your background, maybe you will or won't get into Harvard or Stanford. But who cares. You will for sure get into several top 10 schools. I feel like some people on this board give the MBA admissions difficulty level too much credit. From what I hear from my friends who are already doing MBA's, they tell me that undergrads at top colleges are way smarter than the MBA's at the same schools!! (Wharton undergrads having higher level of intellectual horsepower than the MBA counterparts) let's face it - the true superstars that are crushing it after having gone to top colleges probably don't need to bother with an MBA at all.

Also - MBA admissions care largely about your essays, I've found out. Just make sure to sell yourself in the best light possible when writing your essays. Your stats and background are more than fine for pretty much any mba school. You just got to execute.

Meanwhile - just enjoy your job and focus on making good friends and find a nice girl to date. Have fun for now and the rest will take care of itself.

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Nov 28, 2017

It's tough to say anything that isn't sheer speculation on the question how your background affects your chances, but I don't think your firm's lack of pipeline should be that big a concern. MBB send lots of kids to H/S/W, but MBB also has a lot of kids rejected--tough to say if their acceptance rate beats firms like those you list. Anecdotally, of the ppl I went to school w/ at hbs, MBB didn't seem over-represented.

But yeah, w/ your #s I suspect you've got a good a shot as anyone in your position. This is a chart from our mba livewire explorer, and it looks like the carnage just starts to subside to the right of 3.8, so you picked a good GPA to end-up at.

Here's a data point w/ your numbers: https://www.admitbrain.com/clear-admit/mba-livewir... It's never apples-to-apples (this person appears to be a 1st gen immigrant), but your #s put you in the ~80th percentile of combined scores

trying to make applying to b-school less bad at https://www.admitbrain.com/

Nov 29, 2017
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Gimme the loot

Nov 29, 2017
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Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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