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How To Become A Management Consultant | 10 Tips From Successful Grads

If you're wondering how to become a management consultant after business school, here are 10 tips from grads who have successfully landed consulting jobs

Mon May 20 2024

For business school students, consulting is the most popular career path to aim for after graduation. One in two business school hopefuls desire careers in the industry; they’re drawn in by the strong earning potential and prospect of diverse work and high profile clients. 

Consulting firms, too, love to hire from business school cohorts. Particularly when it comes to MBA graduates, companies appreciate the holistic business acumen and diverse skill set that students possess upon graduation. 

It’s no surprise therefore that the Big Three consulting firms—McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group—rank among the top employers of MBA graduates worldwide. McKinsey alone hired more than 120 students from the most recent graduating class of the prestigious INSEAD MBA. 

Top consulting firms have strong links with a variety of global target schools. They typically have well established recruitment processes that help hundreds of students land their target jobs each year. 

In the US, recruitment usually begins with internships that take place between years one and two—hiring for which typically takes place during November and December. Second years and students on one year programs around the world can then apply for full-time roles between August and September. 

Many schools also house dedicated consulting clubs led by students who have undertaken internships or gained other prior experience at top firms to help navigate the process.

So, if you’re wondering how to become a management consultant, business school is therefore a good place to start. But how can you give yourself the best chance of successfully navigating the recruitment process? 

We asked five grads of top MBA programs who have successfully launched careers in the industry to share their key tips. 

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How To Become A Management Consultant: 10 Tips

1. Follow the recruitment process 

“It's perhaps the most structured recruitment process one is going to come upon at business school. The timelines, the preparation process, everything is extremely structured and very predictable. Just follow the steps that the consulting club tells you to do, exactly as you're told, and if you do it well you will have the job.”

Nishant Dhanendra, former associate, McKinsey & Company (MBA, Northwestern Kellogg School of Business)

2. Trust in your consulting club  

“The consulting club at Ross delivered a lot of information, with weekly sessions about what to expect. It's very powerful to hear that from students who were in your chair the year before.

"Hearing a student tell you ‘this does matter’, and ‘that doesn't matter’, in a time when you can over index or stress out over details, is really powerful.” 

Rachel Sze, consultant, Bain & Company (MBA, University of Michigan Ross School of Business)

3. Be a self starter 

“It's very self-driven. I found the consulting club helpful for laying the groundwork and just understanding the kind of skeleton to expect of a case interview. But then a big part of doing well in interviews and getting offers is just putting the time in yourself to identify what areas of the case or the interview process come more naturally to you, and what are the weaker points." 

Rachel Enright, engagement manager, McKinsey & Company (MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business)

4. Learn from your peers  

“As someone who did not come from a place where I was familiar with management consulting–I just didn't grow up around it–then I was eager to leverage resources and the institutional knowledge of the class before me to get up to speed.”

Rachel Enright, engagement manager, McKinsey

5. Leverage your coffee chats  

“In the first six months of the MBA I deliberately would reach out to people on LinkedIn—either to arrange virtual coffee chats or, even better, in-person to grab a coffee. 

 “I know those informal chit chats probably helped in terms of making my name stand out from the crowd as someone who was interested in joining Bain.” 

Tobi Ogunsanya, consultant, Bain & Company (MBA, London Business School) 

6. Find your advocates 

“It's upon you to navigate networking conversations and build strong relationships within these firms. The objective here is to ensure you have at least two advocates at every firm who are willing to bang the table for you and say: 'Hey, this person deserves an interview at our firm'.” 

Nishant Dhanendra, former associate, McKinsey 

7. Tap into the alumni network 

“Being able to reach out to the LBS alumni and speak to people who had done the internship specifically was super useful for me. I wouldn't have known who those individuals were without actually speaking to the career center and being able to connect with them. And they can give you tips on what to expect.” 

Tobi Ogunsanya, consultant, Bain 

8. Prepare thoroughly for interviews

“Have at least one interview mock-up in coalition with another job group; and have four to six back-to-back case interviews. On the day of the interview, it is highly likely that you will face multiple case rounds. One needs to build stamina to retain mental sharpness.”

Ashutosh Kumar Rai, consultant, Bain & Company (PGP, Indian School of Business)

9. Don’t shy away from your interviewers

“Remember that all of these consulting firms want you to do your best through the interview process. They are wishing for your success, because they're looking for the best candidates.” 

Rachel Sze, consultant, Bain 

10. Learn how to tackle cases 

“Because [MBA recruiting] is such a formalized operation, you have a lot of insights which are passed down from other generations. So, there's literally a playbook that people share and you can discuss it together. This gives you a list of all the different types of cases you could face if you go to McKinsey or if you go to speak to BCG, for example.” 

Tobi Ogunsanya, consultant, Bain

For more info about what it's like to work in consulting, the perks and salaries you could gain, and tips on how to successfully become a management consultant, download our BusinessBecause Consulting Guide