Should you say you want to do management consulting as your post-MBA goal in your MBA applications? This week, Angela Guido (ex-BCG) explains why so many MBAs choose consulting as an MBA specialization post-MBA, whether you should mention consulting in your MBA application, and what a consulting career can do for you if you want to change the world.
This is our last MBA Monday of the year! We've really enjoyed helping all of you awesome people with your business school applications!!! We'll be back in 2021 with loads of new episodes and top-notch MBA insights to help you succeed on your MBA journey. Happy holidays, happy new year, and good luck with your applications!
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
To consult or not to consult, that is the question. Welcome to MBA Monday, where I'm breaking down the MBA world for you, one five-minute chunk at a time.
Management Consulting Myths, Busted
Today, we're talking about the brainiest of all jobs: management consulting. Should you do management consulting post-MBA or not? It's a question you're going to have to answer at some point. Consulting recruiting happens first on campus and even if you enter your MBA thinking that consulting is not for you, I promise you you're going to be seduced by the sexiness of it for at least a moment. The first time you have to think about it is when you're writing your personal statements, when you're constructing your goals and your career game plan for the purposes of your MBA essays. There's a lot of myths about consulting as it fits into the preferences of the admissions committee. In terms of goals, a lot of people think “Oh, everybody does consulting, so I shouldn't say that or I'll sound like everybody else.”, and other people think, “Oh, I have to do consulting or they're not going to want me because 50 percent of the class goes into consulting.”. 50 percent is high, it's actually 30 percent for most schools and if you want to know the exact number, download our career report. It's down in the comments section below. It's awesome, it talks about consulting and a bunch of other stuff. Go get it now, I'll wait! The last myth that people have about consulting as a goal choice for MBA recruiting is that consulting is really competitive and if I'm not an ace MBA candidate, schools are going to think that I'm not good enough for consulting and therefore not good enough for their program.
What Are Your Post-MBA Career Goals?
All of these myths are directionally correct, but a little bit off base. The bottom line is that management consulting is an awesome post-MBA goal for most people. And I'm not just saying that because I went right into BCG after my own MBA, although I am a little bit biased because it was an awesome experience. I say this because most people who go to business school have one of two issues with their future regarding career strategy.
- Number one, they know they want to make a big impact, but they don't quite yet know where or how.
- And the second thing is they want to make a big impact and they know exactly where and how. And for this latter person, management consulting, especially working at one of the big three strategy firms – Bain, BCG or McKinsey – can accelerate your career by many, many years. And of course, for the people who know they want to make a mark but don't really know where they want to go, consulting gives you the chance to keep learning to accelerate and not decelerate your career while experimenting with a lot of different industries and functions and figuring out what you actually want to do. So for so many people, consulting is really, if not the best choice, it's one of the best possible choices they can make post-MBA and schools actually know this, which is why they don't get pissed off when they see people writing that they want to go into management consulting as part of their goals.
What Not To Do, When Discussing Consulting In Your MBA Application
However, you can really get this wrong. You can really say I want to go into consulting and that can be a mark against you in your application. So here's how you need to approach it to make sure that that you don't look bad, choosing consulting as your post-MBA goal.
- Number one, you need to be very clear about what you want to get out of consulting and what you hope to do afterwards.
- Second, you need to show that you actually understand a little bit about what consulting is all about. So, talk about the kinds of skills you'll be building, the kind of work you'll be doing there, and how that's going to help you en route to your longer-term goals.
- The third thing you need to do is be really realistic about your chances. So, like I said before, one myth is that if you're not good enough for consulting and the myth is if you didn't go to a great school, you don't have a super strong GPA and you don't have a 720 or higher GMAT, you're going to be considered a weak candidate for consulting and that's going to count against you. And so, if you have stats that match the weak side of that equation, then be sure to put forward a plan B. So don't just say “I want to go work for Bain, BCG or McKinsey.”, say “I will also consider boutique firms, smaller firms and other places where I can build the consulting skill set while working my way towards my long-term goals.”. By the way, that is a myth. It's not true, that consulting firms reject everyone that didn't go to a great school, that doesn't have a great GPA and that doesn't have a great GMAT score. But for the purposes of presenting a credible picture to the admissions committee in your essays, you want to show them that you do understand where you stack up vis a vis the average expectations and that you have a plan B if your plan A doesn't work out.
To Consult Or Not To Consult, That’s Up To You!
So if you think that consulting is a really good step for you en route to whatever it is that you want to achieve in your career, don't shy away from putting that as your short term goal in your MBA application essays. Just make sure that you do it in the right way and then you'll be a super nerd just like… well, probably me. So this concludes our discussion of to consult or not to consult. This was #MBAMonday, see you next week. Don't forget to subscribe!