Are you looking to land an MBA consulting internship? Consulting internships are a great way to find out if consulting is right for you, and if a firm is a good fit for you. Plus, consulting firms take a majority of full-time hires directly from their internship pool – there’s no clearer path to a career in consulting. Jenny Rae breaks down the process timeline, what a consulting internship is and what it’s not, what you can expect in a consulting internship, and some difference in the kinds of consulting internships. Enjoy!
MBA Consulting Internship – YouTube Transcription
The MBA consulting internship. It’s the holy grail for many people that are going into their MBA thinking that consulting is where they want to end up. Because consulting firms hire a large portion of their class, from the internship process, actually larger than full time. And also, because it’s a super competitive process. And where you go to your internship, whether it’s to MBB or not, will determine whether you are going to get the job that you want in the next cycle as well. So, this MBA consulting internship is an all-important, kind of stressful, process, that you’re going to need to be aware of when you join your MBA.
I’m Jenny Rae Le Roux, the Managing Directer of Management Consulted, and I’m a former Bain consultant, along with my McKinsey & BCG former consultants, we’ve built a really cool company that matches up talent, and great firms. Our focus is on making sure that you’ve got all that you need, to succeed in the consulting internship process.
Consulting Internship Recruiting Process
Let me first just walk through the overview of what the process looks like. First of all, different MBA programs have a timeline for when you can start talking to firms. Some of them, day 1- before day 1. You can reach out using the alumni network. I’m reminded of when I worked with somebody at one of our target schools. Right before he got his academic offer, to join the program, he began reaching out to people. For other schools, they really limit your access to the alumni network, and also to the recruiting process, until a little bit later in the fall semester. Usually after Fall Break. And at that point they’ll open up the season to talk a little bit about, what consulting is? Also, What is it like to be there? Then they’ll dive into some other more advanced stuff, like case training.
So, when the firms start to come on campus, is largely dictated by the schools work relationship with them. That could be as early as the first week of the program, in your orientation. Or it could be even before, if they’re going to have access to you through other channels. Or it could be somewhere in that Fall break period. However, for all the firms, the timing winds up starting November. So most firms to resume drops in November, and then they release their interview targets in December. They interview for MBA consulting internships in January.
So those three things: the resume drops, the interview date releases and names, and then finally the actual interviews, are all pretty well stacked across the organizations. They’re giving offers at the same time, and doing everything else as well.
What is a consulting internship? And , Why does it matter to you?
Let’s just jump back for a second and talk about at a high level, What is a consulting internship? And , Why does it matter to you? Also, What is it not? First of all, a consulting internship for the MBA level, is usually 10 weeks, in the summer after the first year of your MBA. And, what it is, is the opportunity to do usually one project, with the expectation that you will succeed at the firm. It is for the firm, from the firm’s perspective, an opportunity to snag you, as a great talent, for somebody that they would like to have onboard, without trying out any other organizations.
And, the kind of converse to that, what it is not, it is not a “tryout”. The firms are not bringing you on to say, “Hey, we’ll try out a bunch of people and pick the ones that we like.” Their predisposition is they want you at the end of the summer. So, you don’t go in with kind of just a, hungry appetite and willingness to learn. You are in it to win it, from the beginning, because they are expecting that you are going to perform really well.
They in addition, are going to have this 10 week program be highly structured, on other elements. Such as, getting to know different people in the firm through mixers, such as professional development and having a mentor and some conversations, such as getting insight into what your other interns are working on, so having some having some sort of job sharing or insight sharing aspects of the work, on top of the specific task that you will be assigned.
What can you expect to do as an consulting intern?
What can you expect to do as an consulting intern? Well first of all, you can expect to be on one project and one project alone. In fact at Bain, we didn’t really charge for our consulting interns. They were just assigned a small portion of the insight gathering, and our focus was on trying to see if they could deliver something, anything of value. Two slide would have been miraculous. Five slides or a whole section- unheard of!
So in general, the expectations, in terms of final deliverables, were really low. In fact, our MBA consulting interns usually performed lower than our undergrads, that had been at the firm for one year. So, it’s a ramp up period, it’s an opportunity to get to know the process, you’ll get one project assigned, the goal is multiple deliverables, hopefully one of them will be useful in the final deck.
In addition on top of that, lots of watching. As a consulting MBA intern, you don’t have the ability to contribute a ton to the final product. You’re not going to be put in front of the client, they don’t even know if you’re going to be there, 10 days from when you’re actually working with them. And so in general, you’re kept mostly in house, you’re watching and listening, and you’re learning by observation, as well as a little bit of doing.
Not All Consulting Internships Are Created Equal
In addition, not all consulting internships are created equal.
I remember working with a client a while back at a top 5 MBA program, and she said it was fascinating. She had a tier 1 firm, a top 3 firm, that had given her an offer, and they sent her as her offer present, a bag of popcorn. It was basically, “Please come work for us, here’s some popcorn.” Just like, nothing fancy, kind of low key, and she said another firm, that was a boutique firm, that really really loved her, they sent out offer presents and it was like Tiffany’s jewelry! She said that that exact issue paralleled the difference between the firms for her. That the top 3 weren’t trying too hard, they knew that they had already made it, and you as a result would make it as well. Whereas some of the other firms were trying to gain share, trying to gain favor.
Big 4 & Boutique Firm Internships
And so a Big 4 internship, you’re likely to be on the road a lot. You’re going to be a lot more implementation focused work. You’re unlikely to begin at the start of the project, because the projects in general are a lot longer. Whereas the strategy roles, you might jump in in the middle of a project. Just because in 10 weeks, not every project is going to start. But it’s much more likely that you’re going to be involved in the strategy portion of the phase. Though you’re also going to be in a culture that expects that you’re going to love it, that everybody around you loves it, that everybody performs really, really well. So there’s going to be a lot less process and maybe drama in the top 3 firms, versus at some of the other organizations.
In a boutique firm, you’re going to learn a lot about their point of view, but not necessarily the breadth of everything that you could be doing.
Target & Non-Target School Recruitment
In addition, “What programs do consulting firms hire from”, and “What do you do if they don’t hire from yours?” Well consulting firms, like I said, from their perspective, this is an opportunity to snag talent early. So they have target MBA programs, where they expect their gunna get the bulk of their talent. And those are the firms that hire at the schools, that are their target schools. So, most consulting MBA internships are not open to the general public, they are specifically for a target firm, and they are specifically targeted at early recruiting.
4 Options If You’re At A Non-Target School
Now, if a firm doesn’t come to your MBA program, you’ve actually got I think 4 good options for what you can do.
Reach Out To Alumni
Whether they went there directly, or whether they took a circuitous path, the alumni are going to be willing to speak up on your behalf, and if you’re a total rock star in your class, they are going to advocate for you. And if it’s not going to work out, for sure, the alumni will tell you, and they’ll tell you what you should be doing, instead of a consulting internship. Because there are pathways, if you don’t get a consulting internship, to get consulting full-time roles later.
School Career Center And Career Development Office
Your school’s career center and career development office will often have some unique, one-on-one, relationships with consulting firms. So they won’t necessarily have a programatic relationship, but they’ll know a couple of people. And so, if you are a superstar, they pass on just a few names to those organizations.
You can go to diversity conferences. Diversity conferences are a great way to get your name out there as an affiliate of a diversity group. For example, the National Black Conference, the ROMBA LGBTQ+ Conference. If you focus on a lot of those areas, then you’ll find people that are interested in hiring folks based on affinity and the MBA, not just at a specific MBA program.
Finally, it’s just a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears, called old-school networking. So if you have a friend of a friend, that works at, or an uncle of a friend that works at a consulting firm, reach out to them. The fact that you’re a student, means that they’re going to be a lot more open to having a conversation with you. And that could lead to either advocacy later, or even, the opportunity to apply for an internship.
MBA Consulting Internship Part 2- YouTube Transcription
Landing a consulting MBA internship. It’s something that a lot of new MBAs think about from before day one in their MBA. In fact, when I was at Columbia Business School one of the panels that we had for recruit weekends was about consulting internships. So people start thinking about it when they’re even deciding what school to go to. It’s an important crazy topic and one that we’re excited to expand on a little bit in this video. I’m gonna do this in two parts. I’m gonna talk a little bit about the process that you go through from the beginning to the end, all the steps in the consulting internship process, and then I’m gonna talk about case prep, and what you should and shouldn’t do for consulting internships.
First of all, it’s important to understand that I am a Bain consultant who is focused on helping people get into top consulting firms, and also helping top firms recruit great talent. So our focus at Management Consulted is on doing that through our amazing team of ex-MBB coaches.
Consulting MBA Internship Process
First of all, let me walk through this overview of the recruiting process. It’s pretty straight forward, but it does have a lot of steps in it that maybe a lot of people don’t know in the beginning.
The first one is that the process begins with networking. So a lot of the firms will target getting to know everybody who is interested in consulting at some point, during that networking process. They’re gonna hold some information sessions, they’re gonna hold events, they’re gonna hold dinners, they’re gonna hold open cocktail hours, they’re going to have a lot of opportunities where each one of their people are gonna try to meet each one of the people that are recruiting for the process. This is like round zero. And that begins as early as in the first week of your MBA, during orientation. And it goes throughout the fall semester.
On the second part after networking are invite-only events. So those initial events are all open. Come to our dinner, come to our drinks event, come to our cocktail hour, come to our info session. But then the firm’s begin to peel people off, and they begin to say we really want to cultivate a group of people that we want to get excited about our organization. Because at the beginning, they’re trying to make sure that they have the maximum number of great people that apply. So while step one is just this initial networking, step two is these invite only events.
After the invite only events where the firm has really tailored who they would like to hear from, there’s the resume drop. And people from overall networking and from the invite only events can drop their resumes. The resume drop usually happens in November. And the resume drop is a competitive process where the firm will bring in large numbers of people from each target school to evaluate the resumes.
Interview Calls Are Released
In addition after that, there are, after the resume evaluation, interview calls that are released. Usually those are released in December. The firm’s will announce who they are going to interview and those interview calls are your key to knowing exactly which firms in your case prep you should be tailoring your prep toward.
After your interview call you’re usually matched up with a buddy or a partner, who is somebody inside the firm who’s there to help you answer questions about how you should be preparing, what you should be focusing on, what will make you successful in the process. The more great people they have coming through, the better their pipeline will be.
First Rounds Interviews
After the buddy partner support, which happens throughout the month of December and early January, there are first rounds. And first rounds happen usually right after the winter break in January. So it’ll be about a week before classes start around Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. And that initial one week period is a really intense period where you’re gonna do first rounds, sometimes for multiple firms. Usually first rounds are on campus.
Second Round Interviews
Then after that, you’re invited to second rounds. They are often one to three weeks later, usually on Fridays, usually in office and this gets a little complex, because sometimes you have your two favorite firms, in two different cities, on the same day, where they invite you to the final round. So there’s a little bit of juggling and negotiating that happens. At this point, you might decide if you get a lot of second rounds not to proceed with some of the firms. But in general, a lot of people try to do all of the second rounds.
After second rounds, which are in office, you’re flown out, you stay overnight, you do the interview you will often have dinner tonight before, then after that you receive offers. Hopefully lots of them!
And then in the offer process there is a date set for a sell weekend. The sell weekend is an opportunity for you to get to know the other people that were approved inside the organization. Some people will say I’ve already accepted, some will say I’m on the fence. The firm takes the weekend to really explain why their firm is a great fit for you. And then finally you make the choice.
So overall, this is a long process. First networking. Then invite-only events. Then resume drop. Then an interview call. Then the buddy partner support. Then first rounds. Then second rounds. Then offers. Then the sell weekends. And so we’re talking about like nine-ish steps, in the overall process. It can consume the majority of your entire year. If you’re at a school that doesn’t grade, might be even better for you.
Case Interview Prep
Let me just end this video by talking a little bit about case prep for consulting, for the MBA consulting internship especially. One of the things that’s really essential that you need to know is that you do not need to start before you begin the MBA, unless this is a hundred percent what you want to do. There is some time during your MBA, where you can learn a little bit about the process. But you do need to carve out your winter break.
Start Case Prep Early
And if you don’t start early, if you don’t start in the summer before you join your MBA, you’re gonna have very little time in the fall and the first half of your semester, to actually do much on the case prep process. So make sure that you allocate time for a minimum of 20 cases. 20 is actually a really great ballpark for top performers, to do them out loud with excellent partners. Excellent partners are ideally people inside your class that worked in consulting, professional coaches, or people who are really not gonna B-S you, tell you that you’re great, when they actually have no idea what they’re talking about.
So ultimately you need to start the case prep really early, or you need to carve out a good bulk of time in that one month period after your first semester finals, but before the internships. Actual interviews are happening and you need to carve out the rest of your time in getting to know the firms, networking, building relationships, and that will be the bulk of your process. From a case perspective we have a lot to share about that. We have a lot of other videos here on YouTube, so subscribe to our channel. And on top of that, we’ve got some great content that’s MBA specific focused coming out as well. Thanks so much for your time and we wish you the best of luck in the all intensive consulting MBA internship process.
Overall, getting a consulting MBA internship is no joke. There is a lot to it, and there is more to come in future videos. We’re going to tease-out some of the ideas of how you dive into, breaking down what makes a consulting MBA applicant successful, and what doesn’t. We hope that you enjoyed this video, we have a lot more like it. Make sure you subscribe to our channel. Thanks for watching.