Why I think you should take a corporate strategy gig over consulting (including MBB) at the entry-level
I got a lot of help reading WSO when I was an undergrad and wanted to contribute somehow. Wanted to drop my 2 cents, as I feel like MBB is overly praised on this forum, while corporate strategy gets very little love. Please note that this primarily applies to those who want to jump to industry and make exec (which what most consultants end up doing anyway), not those who want to go into HF/PE. If you're sure you want to do HF/PE from the start, however, you are MUCH better starting out in banking than consulting.
Background: Graduated from a mid-level ivy, had offers at Mck and BCG (did not get an offer at Bain so can't speak too much about Bain) out of undergrad but chose a corporate strategy gig at a very prominent FS company instead. I also had 2 siblings that worked at Mck and BCG (both have left now) when I was making my decision so I had access to a lot of unbiased, honest opinions from people that were really looking out for my long-term career. Spend 4 years at my corp. strat role and am now at HBS/GSB.
There were 3 primary reasons I ended up picking the corp. strat role, and I think they still hold true today.
1) Nature of work/senior exposure: The truth of the matter is that the era of pure strategy consulting is gone, even at MBB. Clients are getting smarter and often have their own internal consulting group filled with ex-MBB consultants that know their respective industries much better. While I spent 90% of my years formulating growth + market entry strategies (with some cost-cutting projects sprinkled in), it was painful to watch my sisters get staffed on mind-numbing 6-8 month implementation projects. Especially when business is slow, they had almost no control over staffing and were forced to do them for fear of not getting promoted. Likewise, while my sisters (as associates/BAs) were mainly communicating with middle management at their client sites, I was able to give pitches to SVPs and even gave one to the CEO right before I headed to b-school. I think learning how to communicate correctly with senior management is TREMENDOUSLY important for your long-term career, if you ever hope to make exec level at a F500.
2) Opportunity to stand-out: It's really, really hard to stand-out when all your peers are ultra-smart/competitive people. When you're averaging 65 hours a week it takes a LOT of self-control and determination to put in those extra hours to make yourself a "superstar". Call it low confidence, but I knew that I wasn't inherently gifted enough to be the star associate without putting in more work than everyone else. In my corporate strategy gig, everyone worked 40-45 hours (company standard), while I averaged 50-55. Those extra 10-15 hours really made a difference in the quality of work, helped me stand-out, and get promoted quicker.
3) Extra time to study for GMATs: I also knew that I was not a naturally gifted test-taker. Despite doing well on the SATs, I studied a shit-ton for them and knew I would have to do the same for the GMATs. From talking to my sisters and her colleagues, there's no way you're getting into HBS/GSB if you don't crush your GMATs, even if you're coming from an MBB firm. The lack of travel (which really would have taken a toll on my body) allowed me to prepare a lot and ultimately crush the GMAT. Not too sure if I would've gotten into HBS/GSB from Mck or BCG.
Obviously, this is just my own opinion, and I know MBB still offers some great advantages, mainly the broader industry/project exposure. I still, however, thought I'd share my perspective. Feel free to ask any questions/disagree.