Career Switching

So, You Want to Work at a Top Consulting Firm: Three Paths to Get You There

This article is sponsored by Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

Georgia Tech MBA students Paroma Chakravarty, Georgia Pearce, and Francesca Sally, all saw themselves at different places post-graduation. For one, there was hope for a supply chain placement. Another woman’s sights were set on consulting. And for another, something more people-facing sounded nice after spending long hours on isolated airfields.

Remarkably, all three women ended up at a top three consulting firm—McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain. Whether or not you currently have your post MBA sights set on an MBB, here are three paths to get there.

The Exploratory Path: McKinsey & Company with Paroma

Consulting Role:
I’m going to work for McKinsey’s Operations Practice in summer 2023.

I majored in environmental engineering with a focus on water and wastewater processes. I’ve always been passionate about clean water, especially for marginalized groups. After graduation, I worked in an internal sustainability department and learned about green building.

At some point during the pandemic, I got more curious about supply chains. I was living in DC. We had a barter system for basic supplies in the neighborhood. It made me really curious about how we move commodities around the world and guarantee we can anticipate demand. I didn’t know how to explore that other than going to business school.

When I got into my internship at Gallo, the skills that brought me joy and made me successful were the consulting skills I’d learned in practicums during my first year of business school. I realized what I really enjoyed was meeting people across different functions and solving process improvement problems. When I came back for my second year, I knew I wanted to do operations consulting.

Before I even started applying, I had to determine this was the path I wanted to go down. I wanted to make sure whatever I did, it felt impactful. MBB prep can be intense with casing and behavioral tests. I want to give a huge shout out to the Scheller MBA Consulting Club. They are absolutely incredible. They woke up with me every single day for a week to case me. I was doing four or five cases a day to prep for my first-round interview.

What Paroma Would Have Done Differently:
I would have started casing earlier. Doing this pivot to consulting in my second year, the months between August, September, and October were a blur. If I could, I’d go back to my first year and start casing, then I wouldn’t have had such a steep learning curve.

The Direct Path: Boston Consulting Group with Georgia

Consulting Role:
At the end of my 2022 summer internship with BCG, I was offered a full-time contract.

I did my undergrad in finance and economics, and then worked in investment banking operations for four years. My favorite thing about it was when there were problems to solve. I wanted to get my MBA to pivot into a job where it was more problem-solving oriented.

One of the main things I wanted from the MBA program was to learn more about business as a whole. I interned with BCG and had a great experience doing impactful work where I felt like I could see the results.

I knew coming in that consulting has a really specific type of interview format. I put in the work to prepare for the hardest interview that I was going to have. If I decided later that I didn’t want to do consulting, it would be a lot easier than trying to play catch up.

What Georgia Would Have Done Differently:
I wish I’d known how open people are to meeting with you and sharing their experience and really carving out time to talk to you. And that’s something that I experienced throughout the interview process and part of why I chose to go to BCG. It was very welcoming and everyone was very open.

The Live Without Regrets Path: Bain & Company with Francesca

Consulting Role:
I’ve been working full-time at Bain for four months, since August 2022.

I went to Northeastern University, and I studied electrical engineering. I worked as an electrical engineer designing airfield systems for airports. A lot of my work had to do with Air Force bases. I felt like I wasn’t interacting with people enough; that’s why I decided to go back and get an MBA and try to shift into something more people-facing.

I did my internship at IBM as a product manager. Coming into the program, I had no intention of going into consulting. After my internship, I realized the length of projects in product management could lead to a long project I wouldn’t enjoy.

I came back to school and had a few weeks to apply. I had been talking to another Scheller alumna at Bain, and she told me, ‘I think you should apply. A lot of your background really lends itself to this career.’

I thought I might as well try. I would be mad at myself if I didn’t at least put my name out there. A big portion of my time was spent on the case interview, and Scheller has tremendous support in that arena. They come together to help students prepare for those cases. I was running through a few cases a day leading up to the interview, because there wasn’t a ton of time to prepare. I felt really lucky to have those people around me.

What’s Next for Francesca:
I’m around incredibly smart people. People are really willing to walk me through things and talk about their experience at the firm. I want to absorb as much of that as I can. A big part of my passion, separate and apart from my job, is about diversifying STEM.

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