Business school recruiting and applying to international offices: round-up of reader questions

letters on wanting him back

A new resource for prospective consultants – this was advertised through the Consulting Magazine newsletter. It’s a niche social network dedicated to students who are currently involved with campus consulting clubs. It’s just getting started (only 60 members atm) but could be a useful resource in the coming years. If anyone uses it, let me know your experience!

For a complete list of reader questions I’ve answered here at MC, visit the FAQ page. Ctrl-F to find what you need

On to reader questions through the last week:

Will attending a top business school make it much easier to get into management consulting?

Definitely. Target business schools provide a level of access that you don’t get anywhere else. Given how selective the recruiting process is, your best chances of breaking into consulting happen in-school.

If you don’t have that luxury but want to break into consulting, consider the following two elements when debating career paths: prestige and skill-development. Consulting firms respect brand-name companies, and they respect jobs where you learn a broad set of business skills.

What’s wrong with not including interests on your resume?

There’s nothing explicitly wrong. Including interests has no downside, and plenty of upside. So why wouldn’t you do it? It gives resume readers and interviewers an opportunity to understand you better, and there’s always the chance your interests will overlap with theirs. If that happens, it’s a huge boost to your chances (for instance, if you and your interviewer are both avid mountaineers).

How important is undergrad GPA for MBA recruitment. I have a 3.2 avg over all four years but a 3.7 over my final two years (got my act together). Is there anyway to spin this positively on the resume? I also got a 730 on the GMAT if that helps anything.

Not my area of expertise, Marquis talks about MBA recruitment issues at length. My guess is that undergrad GPA plus a variety of academic factors (eg, major, transcript, etc) play a large role in the admissions process. A 730 GMAT helps but won’t completely factor out the 3.2 GPA the first two years. The best way to spin this, if the issue arises, is to explain how the transformation in your approach to studies took place. Provide a good story, and then emphasize repeatedly the positive results that have come in the intervening years.

Is the nature of pre-mba experience important? Currently I work in the strategy/corp. finance department of a Fortune 500 company. I also moved up pretty quickly (only 2.5 years out of school, but promoted to Manager of Long-Term Strategy)

Definitely. Working at a brand name firm and being successful on the job (as shown by promotions, accomplishments, references) makes a huge difference in MBA recruiting (and consulting recruiting as well).

I’m a senior graduating in May 2009. I know that most firms have already done their recruiting this past fall, but unfortunately, I was studying abroad. Do you have a breakdown of how the firms recruit? Are there some firms that do their recruiting in Winter and Spring?

Most on-campus recruiting occurs in a concentrated time-frame (typically

letters on wanting him back

Fall for full-time, late-Fall and Winter for summer/internships). I do not have a specific breakdown of how firms recruit, but many will do recruiting on a rolling basis as well. Your best bet is to contact your school’s career services office, as well as HR/recruiting contacts that you have at target firms. As mentioned earlier, online consulting applications are not the best way to go.

In normal years, you may still have a shot – certain offices and departments may be looking to meet headcount; yield rates may be lower than anticipated. In today’s economy, that’s a lot tougher.

The thought of applying directly to the McKinsey New York office, for example, from Sydney never crossed my mind. Is this possible?

The broader question here is the feasibility of applying to international consulting offices. Short answer is possible but tough. Long answer is it comes down to a variety of factors – such as if you’re a good fit for that region (language expertise? local work experience?); the quality of their local recruiting class. Typically if you list international offices on your application and are a strong consulting candidate, they’ll consider you for the office provided language is not a barrier.

Out of curiosity, do you have any confidence that public consulting continues? Seems like exactly the time those things will be cut back.

Given the nature of public-sector consulting (eg, federal, state, and local government consulting) – the size of the clients, the large pocketbooks, the long-term nature of most projects – there may be a slight decrease in demand but I’d expect a larger decline in private-sector consulting.

I got a certificate in business administration from an extension program 2 yrs after a PhD in Mechanical Engineering – should I mention the certificate first in the education section of a consulting resume?

The question about certifications/licenses/etc is a good one. In general, I’d list a few of the most relevant ones – business skills, project management certifications, etc. If it’s not a generally recognizable certification (use common-sense here), provide a short explanation.

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