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Industry job or consulting?

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Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 05:30
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I'm having a real hard time deciding between two career paths post-MBA. I indicated in my applications that I want to do either one of these, but now that I've been accepted, I really need to decide which one to pursue. My ultimate goal is to go into industry, where I can leverage my engineering background, like Google or Apple or something. I'm especially interested in the rotational leadership programs. That said, some of my friends (non-MBA PhD folks) are going to McKinsey, which makes me want to go to M/B/B, too. So let's list some pros and cons that I can think of.

Top-tier consulting

Pros: Management consulting experience, pedigree, higher pay, network, lots of exit opportunities
Cons: Bad hours, lots of quantitative work that I may not enjoy, but it's only for a couple of years

Industry job (leadership program)

Pros: Better hours, something I might enjoy, get to climb the corporate ladder sooner, more opportunities to leverage my engineering background
Cons: Worse pay, bumping along in the leadership program for a few years

One downside to both of these things is that by the time I finish consulting gig/rotational program, I'll be 34'ish. I'm definitely leaning towards an industry job, though, since the pros seem to outweigh the cons, and I think I will be more established if I go the industry job route.

Can someone please make some suggestions on rotational leadership programs with tech-related companies?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 07:23
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There is not much Quant work in MBB consulting. I have only seen them turn out vaguely acceptable spreadsheet models. Some of the more niche teams might, but the Finance ones certainly don't.

The advantage of consulting is definitely the exit opportunities; not just the number, but the job provides such opportunity to learn which industries you could contribute most to without throwing yourself off the top of their very tall corporate office. There are some really interesting firms that are run dreadfully, and filtering through that while at B School is next to impossible.

I think you overlook that at your corporate job there is a probability that a bunch of people will get parachuted in from MBB above you rather than you climbing the ladder.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 07:42
3underscore wrote:
There is not much Quant work in MBB consulting. I have only seen them turn out vaguely acceptable spreadsheet models. Some of the more niche teams might, but the Finance ones certainly don't.


Hmm, that's interesting. Friend of mine who works at M/B/B told me that there's a lot of Excel/PowerPoint work. Maybe not all of it is quant-intensive, but that part of it doesn't seem very interesting.

3underscore wrote:
I think you overlook that at your corporate job there is a probability that a bunch of people will get parachuted in from MBB above you rather than you climbing the ladder.


That's true, to a degree. If I go through the rotational leadership program, I don't think I will have to worry about people getting parachuted in from M/B/B, because I'd be at a more senior level. Also, you aren't guaranteed to get parachuted in, even if you've worked at M/B/B. I'm inclined to think that whether you do the rotational program or do M/B/B, the results will be similar in terms of timeframe and your placement in corporate - please correct me if I'm wrong.

So if the two routes are rather comparable to each other in terms of end results, I guess it would just come down to personal preference? One other reason I would prefer the rotational program is that you will only have to go through the internview process once, which reduces risk somewhat.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 07:54
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There are so many variables with firm internal structures versus external. I think only looking at the make up of the management can guide to how it gets there.

There is a lot of powerpoint work for those consultants, certainly. I guess on whether you consider quant work "quanty" is all about perspective. I don't think they do any such thing, but they may feel they do. A lot of MBAs can hardly add up, so that isn't too surprising. Your PhD friends may get more of the quant work pushed their way, but I remain uncertain as to what the strategy firms do that involve any interesting math.

However, if you can't stomach powerpoint stay the hell away from consulting.

I am not sure what is left of virtually any job when you remove excel and powerpoint. A bubble chart of brainstorming on a whiteboard with no supporting evidence, I guess.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 09:00
3underscore wrote:
I am not sure what is left of virtually any job when you remove excel and powerpoint. A bubble chart of brainstorming on a whiteboard with no supporting evidence, I guess.


While it's true that most (MBA) jobs will require the use of Excel/PowerPoint to some degree - I use them now for my pre-MBA marketing internship; however, my impression of a top-tier consulting gig is that the majority of your work will be putting together PowerPoint slides or doing Excel stuff. The managers/partners are the ones who deliver the presentations to clients. I guess other parts of the job would include working in teams and understanding the engagement, etc.

At this point, I'm inclined to think a rotational program at a target company would be the best fit for me. The hours of a consulting gig are also another concern I have. I'm inclined to think that when you calculate the average pay per hour, the corporate job is probably gonna come ahead of the consulting gig, even though the consulting job may pay more overall.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 09:36
Yeah, as an Associate you do the bitch work for the Consultants, who bring you into low key meetings but not into the big ones. Often as note taker and writer-upper. You do the deck for the big meetings how they tell you.

Then the Partner flies in every now and then for the big bits.

They normally operate a bottom heavy structure. Partners think and conceptualize, Consultant applies the framework, Associate makes it work and writes about it. That said, they do learn really valuable stuff.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 13:14
milias wrote:
3underscore wrote:
I am not sure what is left of virtually any job when you remove excel and powerpoint. A bubble chart of brainstorming on a whiteboard with no supporting evidence, I guess.


While it's true that most (MBA) jobs will require the use of Excel/PowerPoint to some degree - I use them now for my pre-MBA marketing internship; however, my impression of a top-tier consulting gig is that the majority of your work will be putting together PowerPoint slides or doing Excel stuff. The managers/partners are the ones who deliver the presentations to clients. I guess other parts of the job would include working in teams and understanding the engagement, etc.

At this point, I'm inclined to think a rotational program at a target company would be the best fit for me. The hours of a consulting gig are also another concern I have. I'm inclined to think that when you calculate the average pay per hour, the corporate job is probably gonna come ahead of the consulting gig, even though the consulting job may pay more overall.


The consultants do a ton of presenting. Partners don't really present or even show up for meetings unless it's special.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 15:06
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I've thought about the same decision a bit. I know I eventually want to get back into tech, but I have been encouraged by MBA alums at my office and K alums to try something totally different for the summer. With that being said, I don't think the decision between tech and consulting needs to be made immediately. Landing a top consulting gig is not easy, so you could recruit for consulting and make the decision if and when you get an offer. From talking to recent students, it sounds like tech recruits after consulting, so you would not have too many overlapping time commitments to recruit. But, if you decide you want to do industry early on, you could save yourself a lot of time and effort by skipping the consulting recruiting herd.

I haven't researched this fully, but my understanding is that most of the leadership rotational programs are in more traditional fields. I believe I read that Intel has a leadership program, but have not heard of anything similar at a Microsoft, Google, or Apple. Tech companies are unpredictable... at my current startup, we have top school MBAs who came in after M/B/B experience, but we also have a founder who dropped out of college, and no MBAs at the C-level - they were brought in by VCs. Pedigree does not seem to guarantee much.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 15:15
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Ah, nevermind, I think Google has a rotational program now: http://www.google.com/jobs/ramp/
But it looks like most of the current associates do not have MBAs, just bachelors.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 16:48
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From the many people I've dealt with and seen through the years (alums, ex-clients, friends, acquaintances, etc.), the biggest difference I've seen is that those who went to industry have had a more stable life/career - less job hopping, less moving around - and a good number staying with the same employer since they graduated. With the consultants, most leave after 18 months to 2 years, and tended to have jumped around a bit more. It has more to do with the personality type that self-selects into these fields -- those who tend to know what they want and are a little more "settled" tend to go into industry (and also a little older). Those who tend to be more "open" (or not knowing what they want) and are a bit more restless tend to go into consulting first, and may take a bit longer to find their place in industry than those who went into industry from the get go.

Consulting is a great job to pursue when you don't really know what you want to do. Those who tend to enjoy it the most tend to be the most open-minded about the kinds of work they want to do. Those who hate it tend to be those who have a specific industry/job function/etc that they wanted, but were too chicken to go for it and settled for consulting instead. Keep in mind that while certain offices will have a higher concentration of certain clients (i.e. NYC office = more financial services, NJ office = pharma, Dallas/Houston = oil & gas, Palo Alto/SF = tech, etc.) as a junior employee whose job is to be on the client site, you can get redeployed wherever the firm needs bodies -- and when the job market (and economy) sucks, there's simply less consulting work to go around, and can't say "I will only work on telco projects because that's what the hiring manager promised me when I interviewed" -- if there is a lot more work in the coal & mining industry, that's where you'll likely be staffed on. They can't staff you on projects that aren't available or don't exist (because the partners couldn't bring them in). And then once you've worked on *one* project for a coal company and you do a great job at it, you'll get staffed on more coal projects. And yet, you wanted to be a telco guy when you were first being recruited. This applies to the "generalist" pools and not the specific industry practices that some firms will have -- but even then, just because you're an associate in the tech group or the healthcare group doesn't mean that you're *guaranteed* to be working only on those engagements. If there isn't enough work to go around in your practice, you will get staffed on other projects that may be outside what you thought you'd do (and then you gain "expertise" in an industry you have no interest in). Again, you can see how this job will be good if you're open minded about industries - but less likely if you have specific interest.

With industry, it's structured to be a bit more steady. Especially the rotational programs - they want to know that you're there for the long(er) haul. No one expects "the company man" anymore where you're there for 25 years, but they want to know that you're at a place in your life where you're not interested in job hopping anymore (i.e. you're staying 5+ years and you don't make job/career moves lightly). They won't say it outright, but they are hoping for someone who is married and has a family (or is starting one) - it's a stronger sign that you're not going to jump ship after 2 years compared to some single dude who is interested in the bachelor life of a big city.

In any case, long story short (regardless of whether you're married or single) - consulting is a great place if you're still unsure about your career goals, whereas industry is a better bet if you know what you want.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 17:52
Thank you, Alex. That was very helpful!
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 18:51
great thread!
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 19:08
I guess my follow-up question would be how competitive is it to land a job with the top rotational programs? Compared to top-tier consulting, is it easier/harder?
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 19:16
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I totally agree with a lot of people have said, especially how else self-selecting the consulting group is (travel, uncertainty, high-intensity).

I'll just through in a little about from the GM (non-high tech) point of view. I work at a large manufacturing corporation, so the one thing I see is the more traditional GM structure where the CEO is not 35 and managers are not gonna be 25-26 year olds. There are a couple things that are good and bad about this structure and it really has to do with personality.

Pro: if you're in the midset that you want steady progression, solid experience in actually doing stuff, and good job security.
Environment to settle down and have a family, no travel, 40 hour work weeks while making 100+.

Con: Kinda stagnent, a lot of cog in the system type work, preparing for retirement. Not suited for people who get bored easily.

Also on a side note, I find the MBA managers at my company sometimes drink too much of the kool-aid, like all about company motto's and stuff "we are making a real impact"... the non-MBA managers seem much more bitter, "these people are F'ing idiots"


Answer you question, Google would be harder than MBB in my opinion.. MBB would be harder than any other rotation.

(also with GM in tech, you need a good tech-ish background)
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 19:33
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GoBruin wrote:

Also on a side note, I find the MBA managers at my company sometimes drink too much of the kool-aid, like all about company motto's and stuff "we are making a real impact"... the non-MBA managers seem much more bitter, "these people are F'ing idiots"


I hear Kool-Aid goes down smoother if you have six-figures of student loan debt :)
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 20:12
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GoBruin wrote:
the non-MBA managers seem much more bitter, "these people are F'ing idiots"


In regards to the company you're talking about and its larger competitors, I share the same opinion as your non-MBA managers. That's one group of companies that I definitely won't be applying to :)
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 22:50
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 05:18
boogs wrote:
I found this relevant thread on the career forum:
what-are-the-good-gm-programs-with-c-evp-level-mentors-86383.html


Thanks for the link! Very interesting.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 07:21
Milias, the interview slots are open on Ross' website. Looks like next year would be a good year, BCG has opened up 30% more interview slots, Bain opened up 15% more slots.

Take a look. Looks like we can bid at most of them EXCEPT McK.
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Re: Industry job or consulting? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 07:29
GoBruin wrote:
Milias, the interview slots are open on Ross' website. Looks like next year would be a good year, BCG has opened up 30% more interview slots, Bain opened up 15% more slots.

Take a look. Looks like we can bid at most of them EXCEPT McK.


Awesome! Can you provide a link to the interview site? Thanks!
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Re: Industry job or consulting?   [#permalink] 10 Jun 2010, 07:29
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