Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ranking your office preferences for McKinsey, Bain, BCG

So some of you have asked about how to rank offices to max your chances of getting the offer, getting into business school, and to achieve other ends.

Here's my advice:

If you want to break into private equity: Boston, New York, and San Fran have the most exposure to those clients.

If you want to get into Harvard business school / Graduate School of Business at Stanford / Wharton: from my view it may be harder to get into NY or Boston office of MBB, but that doesn't mean consultants from NY / Boston have a higher chance of getting into a top business school. MBB all place very well in top B schools, regardless of office location. Keep in mind, for B-School , the location doesn't matter as much as the type of experience and level of exposure. It can be argued that a candidate is slightly more attractive for B school if he's in SF/ NY -- with exposure to large PE clients, F50 first, instead of Miami or Dallas where there can be local clients.

IF you want to land an internship offer or full time offer: IF you aren't an exceptional candidate relative to other applying at your school, I recommend that you place one of the less-sought regional offices as your top choice(s). For all three firms, there are more and less selective offices - meaning many applicants apply to the NY / SF / Boston offices but may not get them if it's a difficult year recruiting-wise. In that case, candidates can get offers for the "less selective" locations.

I don't normally comment on prestige of offices because I think it doesn't mean that much. Here are general thoughts on industry exposure according to office location (not necessarily true in every or most cases, so consider them for what they're worth):

  • For McKinsey, it doesn't matter so much which office you are staffed in since cases are staffed globally. For example, you can be based in Dallas and be working from San Fran, Atlanta, Hong Kong, or another international office.
  • For Bain, offices tend to do as much local work as possible, meaning there tends to be less travel than McK and BCG. So if you want to media, don't go to Atlanta.
  • For BCG, it is in-between McK and Bain in terms of case mix and amount of travel.

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