Georgia Tech Scheller Full-time MBA students Paroma Chakravarty, Georgia Pearce, and Francesca Sally all saw themselves in different places post-graduation. For one, there was hope for a supply chain placement. Another woman’s sights were set on consulting. And for another, something more people-facing sounded nice after spending long hours on isolated airfields.
Remarkably, all three women ended up at a top three consulting firm—McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain. Here’s their advice on the different paths you can take to land a career in consulting.
The Exploratory Path: McKinsey & Company with Paroma
I'm going to work for McKinsey’s Operations Practice in summer 2023.
I majored in environmental engineering with a focus on water and wastewater processes. I've always been passionate about clean water, especially for marginalized groups. After graduation, I worked in an internal sustainability department and learned about green building.
At some point during the pandemic, I got more curious about supply chains. I was living in DC. We had a barter system for basic supplies in the neighborhood. On buy nothing groups people would trade yard space for toilet paper. It made me really curious about how we move commodities around the world and guarantee we can anticipate demand. I didn’t know how to explore that other than going to business school.
When I got into my internship at Gallo, I learned from a very real supply chain. I dealt with global distribution of a very unique product that is shelf stable spirits. It was a marriage between sustainability—having to anticipate generations down what your vineyards are doing—and also supply chain—how do you make sure you don't have stock outs for very popular products during a pandemic.
Ultimately, I also learned that the skills that brought me joy and made me successful were the consulting skills I’d learned in practicums during my first year of business school. I realized what I really enjoyed was meeting people across different functions and solving process improvement problems. When I came back for my second year, I knew I wanted to do operations consulting.
Before I even started applying, I had to determine this was the path I wanted to go down. I wanted to make sure whatever I did, it felt impactful. MBB prep can be intense with casing and behavioral tests. I want to give a huge shout out to the Scheller MBA Consulting Club. They are absolutely incredible. They woke up with me every single day for a week to case me. I was doing four or five cases a day to prep for my first-round interview.
What Paroma Would Have Done Differently:
I would have started casing earlier. Doing this pivot to consulting in my second year, the months between August, September, and October were a blur. If I could, I'd go back to my first year and start casing, then I wouldn’t have had such a steep learning curve.
The Direct Path: Boston Consulting Group with Georgia
At the end of my 2022 summer internship with BCG, I was offered a full-time contract.
I did my undergrad in finance and economics, and then worked in investment banking operations for four years. My favorite thing about it was when there were problems to solve. I wanted to get my MBA to pivot into a job where it was more problem-solving oriented.
I discovered consulting in the process of looking into getting an MBA. I learned that the main purpose of the consulting role is to come in and solve problems for people. You also get the opportunity to work with a lot of different companies. You get to be a generalist for a couple of years and figure out what you're good at and what you're interested in, and you get to work with a lot of different people. So, all of that seemed really appealing to me.
One of the main things I wanted from the MBA program was to learn more about business as a whole. I interned with BCG and had a great experience doing impactful work where I felt like I could see the results.
I got placed on a project that was wrapping up for the first half of my internship, and then I moved on to another project for the same client for the second half of my internship. That provided a great taste of what it's like to work with some slightly different teams and work on different problems. I got to see what it's like to solve a problem for a client and then also what it's like to start approaching the problem for a client.
I knew coming in that consulting has a really specific type of interview format. I put in the work to prepare for the hardest interview that I was going to have. If I decided later that I didn't want to do consulting, it would be a lot easier than trying to play catch up.
What Georgia Would Have Done Differently:
I wish I'd known how open people are to meeting with you and sharing their experience and really carving out time to talk to you. And that's something that I experienced throughout the interview process and part of why I chose to go to BCG. It was very welcoming and everyone was very open.
The Live Without Regrets Path: Bain & Company with Francesca
I’ve been working full-time at Bain for four months, since August 2022.
I went to Northeastern University in Boston and played basketball there, and I studied electrical engineering. I knew I wanted to be an engineer since I was in early high school. My mom sent me to engineering camp, and it was kind of over after that.
I worked as an electrical engineer designing airfield systems for airports. A lot of my work had to do with Air Force bases. I felt like I wasn't interacting with people enough; that’s why I decided to go back and get an MBA and try to shift into something more people-facing.
I did my internship at IBM as a product manager. Coming into the program, I had no intention of going into consulting. After my internship, I realized the length of projects in product management could lead to a long project I wouldn’t enjoy.
I came back to school and had a few weeks to apply. I think with Bain there were a lot of similarities to things that I really liked about Scheller. It had a community focus and a big focus on people. I felt like I could find that happy medium. Maybe there’s not always that work-life balance that I originally had wanted, but the reality is as you kind of progress in your career and have more responsibility that that might go out the window.
I had been talking to another Scheller alumna at Bain, and she told me, ‘I think you should apply. A lot of your background really lends itself to this career.’
I thought I might as well try. I would be mad at myself if I didn’t at least put my name out there. A big portion of my time was spent on the case interview, and Scheller has tremendous support in that arena. They come together to help students prepare for those cases. I was running through a few cases a day leading up to the interview, because there wasn’t a ton of time to prepare. I felt really lucky to have those people around me.
What’s Next for Francesca:
I’m around incredibly smart people. People at Bain are really willing to walk me through things and talk about their experience at the firm. I want to absorb as much of that as I can. A big part of my passion, separate and apart from my job, is about diversifying STEM. For the time being, I’m really happy here and looking forward to all the things I will gain from this experience.