Recruiting for the Consulting Industry

For the past week, MBAs at Kellogg have attended dozens of recruiting events put on by consulting firms. Rumor has it that the firms are doing well again and are looking to hire in record numbers for the summer of 2011. As such, Kellogg MBAs want to be sure to put their best foot forward for their interviews that will take place in January and February.

In recent blog posts, I wrote articles about the campus visits of BCG and McKinsey when they came to campus over the last two weeks. Since then Deloitte consulting has also visited campus as has Monitor and the Parthenon Group. Internal consulting group American Express also came to campus a couple of weeks ago and next week the internal consulting group for Fidelity is coming. And as the semester continues, more and more people seem to be  attending these events, and I suspect a lot more will be submitting applications in December.

About one year ago, most people in my class of 2012 had just finalized their applications to business school. Some of them had plans to enter the consulting industry, the day after submitting their applications, but for many of them, their goal in coming to business school was not necessarily to enter the industry. But over the past months, a shift has taken place, and more and more people have had a change of opinion, evident by the increasing number of people that continue to attend these networking events. Most recently, over 150 people attended a BCG reception and Bain’s reception in two weeks is anticipated to have more than that.

Inspired by the large number of smart alumni in the industry that are coming to campus talking about their jobs and future exit opportunities, students have increasingly become more interested in the field as time passes. Similarly, as the firms continue to come to campus not only for information sessions but also to host receptions, provide free open bars, and hang out and talk to students in the atrium, students continually become more attracted to the idea of working for one of the firms. At Kellogg, many people understand this phenomenon as the “atrium effect.”

And why does the “Atrium effect” happen every single year, you ask? Good question but upon reflection the answer is pretty simple. One reason is the fact that you see many of your classmates doing the same thing. And when you see 50 intelligent people with impressive backgrounds trying so hard to enter one industry, it’s nearly impossible not to take a second look and consider it yourself. A second reason is because you also see another one or two dozen smart and happy  alumni who you admire that are at these consulting firms.  Often times, you see people in high level positions you want to be in, and they’ve often spent time at some of these consulting firms prior to that and speak highly of those experiences.

Now, given what I’ve said above, fast forward about six weeks into the first quarter. And imagine our session now, where the classroom was jam-packed corner to corner with eager first year students ready to start prepping for a consulting job next summer. And as time goes on, everyone is starting to realize that there’s a lot of competition, so it’s going to take a lot of prepping to land one of these coveted consulting jobs. And that’s in addition to school work, outside activities, and social activities that everyone is involved in.

The question that many people will have over the next few months is, is all the work required to get a consulting job worth it? And more broadly, maybe the better question is “are MBAs with strategy consulting experience better off as business leaders?”

In my view, that’s probably not quite the right question to ask. The right question might be something more like, “will consulting make me specifically a better business leader in the long run, given my specific career goals and current skill sets? And if so, which firm will offer the best training to do that, and will I be happy there?” And even if the answer to the latter question is no, then is the time I spent at the consulting firm still worth it for me personally?

In my experience, most people don’t know their answers to these questions just yet, and they tend to go through the recruiting process first and then ask themselves this question second.

Stay tuned to eventually hear how these decisions play out over the next few months. I’ll be sure to post regular updates and answer applicant and career questions along the way.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Consulting

3 Comments to Recruiting for the Consulting Industry

November 3, 2010

Nice site!
I have been a regular reader for quite sometime now.

Jeremy C Wilson
November 3, 2010

@Vik Hi Vik, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Very glad to know you enjoy the site.

[…] the MBA job market is picking up, and students are starting to get jobs in large number again (click here to see the pace of consulting recruiting). Top programs, like Kellogg, have a lot more companies […]

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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