Post-MBA Career Goals: Consulting
So you want to be a management consultant.
Given that nearly one-third of prospective MBA students list consulting as their first job choice upon graduating from an MBA program, this is a very competitive industry. Some business schools are known to be especially consultant-friendly, and have an established history of feeding the prestigious MBB consulting firms: McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group.
So, if you know you want to go into consulting, it’s a good idea to pick schools that are known to be friendly to consulting firms. This may just give you the edge you need to stand out in this competitive field.
Consulting is Still Popular
While finance has been on the decline as a destination industry, particularly as the tech industry asserts further dominance, interest in consulting remains steady. A major appeal is that consultants get the option to experience different industries as part of their jobs. Consulting work - synthesizing complex information, creative problem-solving, strategic communication - also fits precisely with the skills gained in an MBA program. Additionally, as consultants work on a case-by-case basis, this to some degree echoes the Case Study method widely used in management education. Management education thus provides a valuable entry point into consulting, with excellent compensation.
Speaking of compensation, going into consulting is usually a beneficial financial decision. The high starting salary of a consultant – usually around $190,000 at the MBB consulting firms – allows a consultant to pay off hefty MBA loans quickly.
It’s also worth noting that the consulting industry will likely go through a transformative phase in the next few years. AI-based services like marvinai.io/ which makes incredible consulting slide decks will change how consultants, particularly junior analysts, work. Applicants considering consulting should keep this in mind.
Besides the MBB consultancies, many well-regarded consulting firms, including household names such as Kearney, Deloitte, and Booz Allen Hamilton, also offer excellent starting packages and benefits. There are also several smaller firms that work in certain geographies or specialize in specific fields such as energy, renewables, finance, tech, and more.
Depending on the size and reach of the firm, the salaries may not match the MBBs, but other consultancies such as the big-4 consulting firms (Deloitte, KPMG, PWC, EY) remain competitive.
The Big 3 Firm’s Preferred Schools
Unsurprisingly, MBB are the top recruiters at many top schools. Some of the top feeder schools for these firms are Northwestern’s Kellogg, UPenn’s Wharton, University of Southern California (USC), Harvard Business School, and UMichigan’s Ross. The MBBs also target these feeder schools for summer internships, a time-honored route into the consulting field. If you want to get an idea of which schools are preferred, Poets and Quants published McKinsey’s list of 17 target b-schools here.
Now, this isn’t to say that you need to go to one of the schools mentioned above; remember that MBB are looking for the best candidates from diverse backgrounds. For example, BCG hired from 37 different schools in 2022. So while a larger number of people will come from the top feeder schools, there will be standout candidates (albeit fewer in number) from schools that aren’t on the list.
Which School to Choose
Remember, while it is important to consider schools that have close relationships with consulting firms, it is also important to consider whether the school’s curriculum prepares its students well for consulting careers.
In fact, given the similarity between the MBA curriculum and consulting work, it isn’t surprising that many consulting firms consider MBA programs a form of outsourced training. For this reason, many consulting firms, particularly the larger ones, will sponsor their employees’ MBAs.
If you’re an aspiring consultant, look for MBA programs that offer specific consulting tracks that include electives such as Strategic Management, Organizational Change, Applied Integrated Management, or Leadership.
Additionally, many schools have clubs or side programs (that is, not part of the official MBA curriculum) that prepare students for consulting careers, such as the Oxford Consulting Development Programme, which offers workshops, opportunities to connect with recruiters and other prospective consultants, as well as case prep.
Furthermore, while it is possible for any driven candidate to break into consulting via an excellent MBA program, certain schools such as IESE have a distinct reputation for nurturing graduates who want to enter the consulting industry without any prior experience.
Top Schools for Consulting Graduates
According to FindMBA, these are the Top-10 schools for consulting. The opportunities listed as “Major Draw” are not exhaustive, but will give you an idea of this school’s benefits relative to others.
Graduates in Consulting
38% in 2021
Summer consulting project
33% in 2021
Major MBB feeder
Major MBB feeder
Managing Organizations concentration
32% in 2021
Strategy Consulting concentration
28-40% Consulting or Strategic Planning
Major MBB feeder
34% in 2021
Strong social impact consulting focus and excellent reputation with MBB + Booz Allen Hamilton
30% in 2021
Corporate Strategy and Leadership electives; many grads in Toronto
34% in 2021
Excellent choice to break into consulting for people with less experience in the field
Bayes Business School
21% in 2021
Great proximity to London consulting firms
If you’re choosing a business school because of its focus on consulting, you should be sure to explain this in your post-MBA career goals essay. Learn how to write about your post-MBA career goals.
If you have any further questions about how to make your application stand out for a consulting-friendly MBA, contact us here for a free 20-minute consultation.
Get real example essays from successful applicants to MBB feeder schools on MBAconsultant.com, our self-paced online platform for bespoke MBA application guidance.