What internships do Management consulting firms like to see for FT applications

So basically here is my story.

Junior, studying econ with minors in CS and Management. at somewhat prestigious state university(top 20 public school but not near the top of that list) . Consulting is where I wanna be post graduation. Was surprised when Bain came onto campus for OCR but they were there so that gives you an idea.

So i firebombed my way through freshman year engineering, got all C's as a result and changed majors because I wanted to go into "business". I just now have managed to get my gpa to a 3.05 after the last sem so I've finally hurdled the sub 3.0 cutoff. Pretty good semester grades since then with heavy course load and quantitative courses like calc, stats, econ, CS, accounting (3.4/3.5's). I've begun to look at internships and am doing some networking, seen some commercial banking ones, data analyst ones, corpfin ones, even some IT consulting ones. I'll probably get an internship somewhere, but I'm wondering if there is anything in particular that consultants like to see on a resume, other than a consulting internship. Any experiences you guys had with the recruiting process? No need to recommend IB as I will definitely not end up getting an SA offer lol. I've got a nice leadership experience too as a site coordinator at a volunteer tax assistance program on campus.

Thanks !

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Comments (16)

Most Helpful
Dec 26, 2018

My experience: went to a school similar to what you've described.

Tbh, absent incredible referral and a lot of luck, 3.05 will probably not be anywhere close to the real cutoff for MBB/T2 strategy firms - especially coming from a non-target/emerging target and majoring in business.

That said, I've seen some people I know who are interested in consulting but with bad GPAs do well by focusing largely on regional/local consulting firms - this might be a viable route. Even better is that these firms are easier to get a hold of/meaningfully network with, so you can reach out now and talk to some people to figure out what you need to do to be prepared for those specific firms.

To answer your question more directly, I didn't see any particular trend amongst the other people from my school who got interviews with MBB/T2 except for having top GPAs and usually 2 good internships, with some consulting, some data analytics, and some totally different - point is no particular trend in content area. While there was no shared trait in industry or function of the internships, they all had very clear stories/experiences that emphasized their personal impact and problem-solving abilities in a way that fit with what they'd do in consulting.

They all also had great leadership experience - requiring actual good stories of passion intersecting with problem-solving and impact. This can be a self-starting project of yours you make an impact with.

At this point, honestly I'd:

1) Get what you can internship-wise - I thought recruitment for summer internships was pretty much over, and if you don't have anything really yet then the first big experience can be tough to get.

2) Network with local consulting firms where you will have a higher probability of actually being considered for anything, vs. having your resume auto-filtered out due to GPA issues.

3) Expand role within other involvements to have more meaningful experiences to discuss.

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Dec 26, 2018

This is good advice OP.

Just to add on, with a 3.05 you're only realistic chance for a place like Bain is to do an internship at a name brand company that will draw away attention from your academic section of your resume. Also, I'm sure you do this, but make sure to highlight your major GPA even though a 3.5 is probably still not enough at a semi-target.

There are going to be dozens of people with better grades in harder majors, better internships at name brand companies, and more impressive leadership experiences. At this stage in your undergrad you can't change this, but you can still out-network your peers!

Dec 26, 2018

Yeah, the t2 recruiting at my school is pretty strong and we have some great boutique firms that recruit here too. As in Deloitte so and Accenture recruits hella here. All those big consulting/IB Summer roles are gone, but there are some commercial banking ones, and I was able to get ahold of an email and recruiter regarding an EY Advisory second round of recruitment(we feed the big 4 like no other).

My gpa will probably be a 3.2 by the time senior year rolls around, since I'm credit loading some easier stuff and with the way my grades have been trending up I expect to get like a 3.8 or higher(I got a 3.5 last sem in harder courses) so I'm considering honestly sending it and emailing my transcripts to the mbb recruiters here come fall because they wouldn't look at my resume twice anyways lol

Dec 26, 2018

Network with alumni in near cities at smaller firms to see if you can land an internship with them.

Dec 26, 2018


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Dec 26, 2018

Trust me I am not being picky right now. I've been going as far as applying to internships in small towns even just because they are data analytics/finance related. And by nowhere near the top I think I made my school look worse than it really is. Idk how important anonymity is here but if I said we're a top 5 school in the Midwest maybe that gives a better picture.

Jan 3, 2019

Assuming you go to Michigan, I would look for management/operations internships around Philadelphia and Chicago

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Dec 27, 2018

A realist, I respect that

Dec 28, 2018


Dec 26, 2018

Looks like you've got quite an uphill battle ahead! It looks difficult, but there are some pointers that I've come across for internships that I think will be helpful.

This is from my school's Management Consulting Club, it's a snippet of text that helped me make some sense of what I should look for in an internship.

Have a big brand name and/or show impact on your resume

A. Get a big name on your resume

i. You need to get a reputable source to validate you (Your school is good, but not strong enough). When the firms see you've gotten through a relatively rigorous recruiting process (characteristic of a brand name company), they are more likely to believe you might be prepared to succeed in their recruiting.

B. Make an impact in everything in which you are involved

i. It does not matter what organization you are a part of; there are ways to make a quantifiable difference. You can start new projects, be part of initiatives, etc.
ii. Make sure that you are proactive in creating change and that you find ways to measure that change ($'s, %'s, #'s, etc.).

This picture below is a cool matrix that shows the types of internships you can have. You want to focus on "Big name, Small impact" or "Weak name, big impact" for this time around. It'll be harder to get a F500 internship at this point, (it's a little late in the game for the bigger ones), so a startup/small VC fund could work for you really well.

With that in mind, however, I think it'd be better to shift your focus, to networking into that interview. You're not going to get it from resume alone.

Look, you probably know about as good as anyone here that your odds are super low based on lack of experience, GPA, etc. Honest to goodness, your best shot is to reach out to people at your school that are at MBB, ask for 15 minutes of their time, and explain your situation to them. See if they have any angle to work. Impress them (like, really impress them) and see if they'll practice cases with you. Nail those cases, and give them a reason to tell the recruiting team that they should give you a chance to interview. You'll have to network until FT interviews next year, weekly calls, talk with the recruiting team, etc, so that they like you enough to give a shot at an interview.

But, if the year is too competitive, then you'll be out of luck (I know a guy with 3.97 GPA, 31+ ACT, internship at Goldman, incredibly smart dude, even got invited to lunch with some MBBs and didn't even get first round with one of them), so don't get your hopes up.

Anyway, Good luck to you. Feel free to teach out to me if you have any questions.


Remember, always be kind-hearted.

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Dec 26, 2018

Awesome advice, will do!

My school has a consulting org that gets training from McKinsey/Accenture/other consultants as a pro bono support and then deploys student consultants to assist various non profits in really relevant work, so I'm gonna try and network into that come spring as well, should definitely give my resume some strength.

Dec 26, 2018

Sounds like a really good place to start! See if any of them would be willing to have a chat and then in the call after that, see if they would be willing to practice a case interview with you. Best of luck my friend!

Remember, always be kind-hearted.

Jan 3, 2019

Take it from someone that was in a somewhat similar position and succeeded:

Start trying to get referrals from senior folks and get a F100/Big4 name on the resume too. The process can work to your advantage in some ways. For instance, if you reach out to a McKinsey partner from your school, he won't care about your GPA, but will judge from the Big4 experience that you are one of the better candidates at your school (where Big4 is usually a competitive job). From there, you have to absolutely crush your case interviews. Even though people say your resume is not important after you get to round 1, you are competing against candidates at the top of the stack in their highly selective universities, so interviewers may have some conscious or unconscious biases.

Also, if you aren't successful in college, you can always apply 1-2 years down the road. GPA is still going to be a tough obstacle to overcome, but you can offset with strong performance on the job (i.e. an early promotion). If this is something you want to pursue, optimize for a job that is both a brand name and will provide opportunities to fast-track promote.

Gimme the loot

Jan 4, 2019

if you reach out to a McKinsey partner from your school, he won't care about your GPA, but will judge from the Big4 experience that you are one of the better candidates at your school (where Big4 is usually a competitive job).

I've seen several folks doing that...

Jan 4, 2019

Hey man good luck. I started in a similar position as yourself, luckily in a larger market, but had to start at a F100 doing FP&A. I killed it there for a few years and was able to transfer to a T2/3 consluting firm. Crushed it there for a year and then transfered to T1/2 Strategy shop. It can be done, but its definitly an uphill battle.

Since you aren't starting in pole position you will have to outwork your competition and grinder harder than your peers if you want to move quickly. Best of luck.

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Jan 6, 2019
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