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Advice for mid-tier consultants

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Advice for mid-tier consultants [#permalink] New post 03 Jul 2010, 19:11
How can a consultant coming from a mid-tier firm (ATKearny/Deloitte/OW/LEK) differentiate oneself to compete with those from McK/Bain/BCG when applying to the top 10 MBA schools?

Looking at the numbers, it looks like the top-tier firms have a much easier time placing their people in top MBA's. It also doesn't help as the adcoms lump all the consultants together in one category making it extremely competitive for us.

I came from a top school with a degree in engineering. GPA: 3.7. I'm still early in the process and won't be applying for another 2 years, but want to be aware ahead of time. What type of advice do you have for me as I progress in my career and outside activities?
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Re: Advice for mid-tier consultants [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2010, 10:37
The unfortunate reality is, the M/B/B folks will have a leg up on you no matter what.

The key thing (with any applicant) is DON'T BE BORING AND CONVENTIONAL. The admissions process has gotten to the point where anyone and everyone can come up with highly polished essays that are "well positioned" blah blah blah.

And that's simply not going to cut it.

Simply put, there are way too many cookie cutter applicants these days with very similar resumes who can come up with equally dull and polished essays that drone on and on about some variation of a project/story that the adcom has heard a thousand times before. So if you are just like every other consultant (+/- some things at the margin like "I mentored high school kids" whereas someone else may have taught recovering drug addicts) -- it will come down to a personality contest if there's nothing in your background that is substantively different than the boatload of other consultants out there.

Have the balls to do something different, to be different, to NOT fit in and do what everyone else does.

If you want to do some drastic, DON'T take the consulting job. Or quit after a year, do something you've always wanted to do. Start a band. Shoot and produce a documentary. Work for Doctors Without Borders (or something like that). Do something DANGEROUS. Something risky.

People with a bit of an edge, someone who is dangerous, who has balls to do something most other people are too chicken to do - that is compelling.

And this applies not only to your raw candidacy, but also to HOW you write your applications as well. Boring by-the-books crap isn't going to cut it, especially if you have a pretty cookie cutter background. You need to take risks - which applies as much to this process as it does to anything in life really - if you want to be an outlier (exceptional, unique, etc), you need to be willing to risk and sacrifice a lot more than you'd want - and learn to deal with failure and disappointment and struggle in the process (because you WILL fail a lot more in the interim before you succeed - no matter what it is).
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Alex Chu
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Re: Advice for mid-tier consultants   [#permalink] 04 Jul 2010, 10:37
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