VC/IB/or IBM consulting internship for MBB full time? Please help me with my dilemma

Hi all,

I would like your opinions on my situation.

I am currently an MBA student at a top 10/15-ish MBA program, with about 6 years of pre-MBA work in tech. My primary goal is to get into M/B/B consulting, preferably in China (HK, Shanghai, etc). I just finished up my first year and looking to settle my summer internship. My GPA is crappy unfortunately, but I have made it to the 2nd round at Bain for this summer, although I didn't get the summer offer. Didn't get any interviews from McK or BCG unfornately, most likely becuase of GPA.

Now for the summer, I have a few options. I have an offer right now from an established singaporean VC firm, with a total of 1 billion USD AUM. The firm is the venture investment arm of a much larger, 100+ billion sovereign wealth fund. I will be working in their newly established china office, with a newly raised 300 million china-focused fund. I'm not exactly sure what I will be working on, but I know the firm is doing well and there would be lots of work to do with this new fund.

Or,I could wait for 2-3 weeks and interview with IBM Global Business Services (consulting) in China. For IBM, I've been talking to the recruiters for a while and they like me, but unfortunately they can't make hiring decisions until much later due to bureaucracy. I also wouldn't know exactly what project I will working on, most likely its not going to be IT (cuz I said I don't want to do IT consulting) but not sure if its operations or strategy or what, it could be anything under the umbrella of GBS. I would say I am about 70-80% confident that I will get an offer.

Or I have a couple of opportunities at US based boutique investment banks. They are small, 10-20 people investment banks, and I'm not certain about the deal flow.

What should I do? How does MBB view VC internships?

I need to make a decision on the VC offer NOW. On one hand I have a sure offer from a large fund, where I should play a large role becuase they're just starting their china office.

On the other hand IBM Consulting is a top consulting firm and seems much more in line with a career at MBB. But this one is definitely not in the bag yet so its very risky.

How does MBB view boutique investment banking internships? Also, will doing an invesment banking internship at tiny firms open doors to full time banking/finance positions in case I don't make MBB? I heard if you do banking internship you can go for banking AND consulting full time (because consulting is open to diverse experiences), whereas if you do a non-banking intenrship then you're definitely out of banking.

I would love to get into MBB, but also need to consider what will give me the most options for full time as well in case MBB doesn't work out.

What do you guys think? Any help wil be appreciated!!!

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Comments (9)

May 15, 2009 - 7:05am

my knowledge of the field is almost nonexistant but from the trends i've read until now, ibm consulting isn't a great culture to get into... then again my sources are not necessarily reliable :P

but just from a completely uneducated perspective, the VC field seems much more interesting and versatile, so as a summer internship it might be more useful, neh? zenme yang?

random hackneyed words of wisdom

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."
  • 1
Best Response
May 15, 2009 - 9:01am

Hi aceman,

Congratulations on those two (or 1.7-1.8, for that matter) offers you got there. My thoughts:

  1. Do some due diligence on the VC fund and your internship. This would be highly attractive to an MBB indeed if it was a front-office kind of job (i.e. making investment decisions, managing/advising/restructuring firms, etc.). This would not necessarily give you a leg up in MBB apps however if it was a back-office type role, i.e. building e.g. the fund's IT infrastructure in the new market, so I would clarify this first. If it's the latter, I am not sure if there's an opportunity to switch from back office to front office as I have no experience with VC, perhaps somebody can comment on this.

  2. MBB seems like your "end-goal" (which it obviously is not, as people normally use MBB to do sth else afterwards). You need to check whether the VC internship you'd do would enhance your profile (it would if front office, I reckon it would not if back office), and, more importantly, whether it was lack of interesting experience that made you not get interviews in the first place. You mentioned that GPA may be the reason - this is an assumption you indeed need to check, so call MBB HR (they tend to give very detailed feedback, at least what I heard - but I'm sitting in Europe). If they tell you it was lack of experience, outlining your upcoming internship plans may help you to understand how your chances improve.

  3. You need to be very careful with your potential IBM offer. I feel that 6 years of tech experience may well push you into an IT assignment, even though you've expressed you're not interested in this. Staffers in consulting firms want to make Partners happy first, and consultants second. I don't know IBM's culture specifically, but unless in this organisation staffers really fight for their consultants' (or temporary consultants') wishes, this may be tough. Also, how much of IBM's revenue is non-IT/process consulting (both fields will not help for MBB)?

Hope this is somewhat helpful -- glad to answer further questions. Have you tried the other non-MBB firms that would do the same kind of work? I'm thinking ATK, ADL (are they still around?), Booz, OW, etc.

  • 2
May 15, 2009 - 11:10am

I would not place a lot of faith in IBM to not give you a IT offer, purely because you said you didn't want to. In good times, at better firms, things like that usually don't work out so this doesn't seem like a likely scenario. Also, don't take getting the offer for granted - recruiters will tell you anything to keep you wet.

Take the VC offer - MBB and management consultants in general love prestige and that job is your best bet to get you a first round for FT. Having said that, I would carefully consider why you want to do MBB - nothing you have shown in your post indicates that you really understand what the business is about, which in turn makes me question whether you truly know what you are getting yourself into.

Talk to more people, talk to alumni from your school who work there and try and get the inside scoop whenever possible.

May 15, 2009 - 3:31pm

Hello All,

Thanks for the great advice. I will definitely ask the VC firm what I will be working on, although I suspect that the manager probably wont even know himself at this moment, becuase I contacted him through networking and he initially didn't have the intention of bringing on an intern so it is pretty unstructured and informal. Well most VC intenrships are right?

As for IBM, they should place me in something non-tech, since the program is part of a new company-wide initiative in China to hire more global talent, so they're pretty keen to cater to the students interest. I don't think the program is that affected by the downturn otherwise they probably wont launch it. The main deal is that this one is not in the bag its still risky.

I can't do much with my GPA at this point, so I need to add the best experience to my resume. Seems like most people agree that established VC firm > IBM consulting > US boutique ibanks? especially for MBB? (What if I don't get MBB, would VC still give me the most options? )

That's what I'm leaning towards as well. Any additional thought would be great.


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May 16, 2009 - 2:31am

To 7S, would you care to elaborate? I will be working under the venture arm that handles the VC investments of Temasek. Why would you take it over MBB? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

To M2, thanks for the insights. I have looked at ATK, Booz and other small consulting firms, but I don't think they're really hiring much and I didn't get an interview anyway. I'm not sure what my VC expeirence will entail, but I don't think it will be like back office, fix their website or data entry type of work. It will however be unstructured, just helping the MD doing whatever he needs help with. He seems like a nice person and they just started the offce, so i'm pretty sure if I really want I can get involved with front office stuff, at least some of it.

To Ideating - also thanks for your post. I actually was planning to do MBB all along, started researching the firms couple years ago and know as much as anyone ouside could know about the consulting business. I networked with the 3 firms like crazy and that's probably why I landed the bain interview. Now becuase I didn't get an MBB internship, I just looked around for other opportunities, some mainly in other consulting firms, also investment banks, and venture capital. I managed to land interviews with IBM consulting and also boutique investment banks, and this VC offer.

Apr 15, 2010 - 8:19pm

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