There are lots of places you can take your career, but today we will take a look at the two most popular areas: management consulting and investment banking. Assuming you are currently in another industry and want to break into these industries, read on.
Let’s take a look at these two options
This is how I entered the management consulting industry with Booz & Company. Most top consulting firms with an “up-or-out” policy will want consultants from undergrad to stay for 2 or 3 years and then make a career decision: either you go get an MBA and come back as an Associate or you find something else to do. So even if you are in the management consulting industry or are on track to getting into the field from undergrad, you will eventually find yourself at a fork road deciding to MBA or not to MBA.
Talk with your company to find out if an MBA is required for upward mobility. Most management consulting and investment banking firms require it, although a few do not.
Getting an MBA is a deep decision that requires a lot of self-preparation and self-reflection that extends beyond the scope of this article. But if it is even remotely within your potential career plan within the next 5 years, it might be a good idea to get your GMAT exam out of the way as the exam score is valid for up to 5 years.
Up to 5 years.
That’s a lot of time. Say you just graduated and are starting your first job.
If you take your GMAT now, then by the end of your 2 or 3 years at your current job, you will have already completed the first major step in the MBA application process.
Trust me, the GMAT is the last thing you want to think about at the end of your 3 years as you contemplate on an MBA and have all kinds of extracurricular, social, work, and life issues to deal with.
Action Items for Option #1: Get in via top undergraduate school recruiting.
A few pros with this option include entering the management consulting firm at a higher salary and generally more responsibility. If you come from another background (IT, engineering, retail, etc), then you’ll need to do the MBA route in order to have access to these recruiting channels.
Is it possible to get in directly to management consulting without doing the MBA route? Sure. But it’s definitely not as common.
With business school, not only do you have access to management consulting recruiting programs, but you’ll also have access to a variety of other career channels including investment banking, corporate business development, etc.
But be careful! Do NOT assume that getting a top MBA automatically = getting into a top investment bank or management consulting firm. Whatever your career goals are, you should definitely do your research on them NOW. Even if you decided to do the MBA, don’t just sit there and wait for the offers to come to you.
If you want to get into real estate, then call up your school’s alumni contacts and tell them you are about to attend ABC business school and want some career advice. Set up an informational interview/phone call to get their perspective.
Remember, the MBA is a great platform to be on–it increases your personal branding and opens the doors for networking. However, you still need to JUMP off the platform and end up where you want to be! Do NOT assume the MBA is a magic bullet like most people assume.
Now, depending on your career situation, you may be in option #1 or option #2.
With business school, the GMAT is required at most top schools. And even if you get into the industry through your undergrad, you still might find yourself taking the GMAT.
Again, make sure you do not let the GMAT or MBA get in the way of your target career. Learn as much about your target industry as you can and use the MBA to help position (not guarantee) yourself for opportunities.