Management consulting firms are pretty selective about which schools they recruit from. The higher the prestige of the firm is, the more exclusive school they hire from. E.g. a firm like McKinsey, Bain, BCG would likely only hire from top schools in the US and a few select top international schools. In general, it is pretty easy to figure out if a particular firm is hiring from your school. All you need to do is ask your school’s career services department which employers, consulting firms in particular, are participating in campus recruiting activities. Once you are in the campus recruiting process, make sure you have a great consulting resume and prepare for the case interviews.
What programs do top management consulting firms hire from?
The most common program that management consulting firms hire is MBA programs. At the top schools like University of Chicago’s Booth, 100+ MBA’s are hired into consulting firms every year. Some companies target other advances degrees such as MS and PhDs for top programs in their field, e.g. McKinsey hires from the Material Science PhD program at MIT and Northwestern. These are fewer in numbers compared to MBAs. For undergraduates, top engineering, business and econ programs are the typical target but they occasionally go broader to other degree programs.
I am not in a target school, can I still get hired by a management consulting firm?
The short answer is yes. But it is not as easy as following the campus recruiting route. You need to be more resourceful to make yourself stand out and get to the right people. Network with alumni of your school that work in the companies you are targeting, they will give you insights into how to approach the firm and may even refer you. Find other contacts that can help you through any networking opportunity you can find. Find multiple people at the same firm to send your resume in. Tell them your story and have a compelling reason why you care about that firm and what you can contribute. Make sure you follow up and be persistent. It is not easy, but it can be done.
Another strategy that works is to intern at a less reputable firm and ideally get a full time offer at the end of your internship. The experience and the offer are valuable stamps of approval and you can use them in your final year at school to trade up to a better firm. The top firm love candidates with experience and demonstrated interest in management consulting. They also trust the process of the second tier firms to weed out people who are not a good fit for management consulting.
For further reading check out our post on how to get into management consulting and the best free resources on management consulting jobs.