MBB International Applications

Question:

First of all thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge over the web, it has given me the courage and confidence to challenge what I thought would be impossible.

My question is about applying to multiple firms, and internationally - the process itself, advantages, and disadvantages (particularly with regards to MBB).

I'm sure there are many others like me with a complicated international background, who are having trouble deciding where (which countries) to apply for, and who are confused by the process.

I am a [Asian country] national, but have done most of my education in [a second country]. I did an engineering degree at a target university in [the second country], had one year of work experience in [my home country], and am now doing a Masters in Energy/Environment at a target university in [a third country]. Since I don't speak [the third country's language] well enough, applying to an office there is out of the question.

I want to apply to two offices, my first preference being the office [in my home country], and my second preference being the office [in the second country].

What happens if I apply to these two offices simultaneously, considering they have different intake periods? Does the outcome of one application affect the other (result in PST, interview, etc.)? I read for some companies that you have to wait a certain period before reapplying, does this restriction hold even if applying to another office in a different country?

I speak fluently [my native language], but will my application even be seriously considered, given the fact that I did not attend a university in [my home country]? How much are international experience/language skills valued in general?

Once again, thank you for this wonderful site, and it would be greatly appreciated if you could help me clear up my queries!

My Reply:

This is a tough one. It's really important that you make your resume easy to understand from a multinational reader's point of view. See my Consulting Resume Toolkit for specific examples of how to explain your education in the second country so a reader in your home country can appreciate it.

The multinational education is a real challenge for resume readers. In your cover letter, you need to explain why you want to live and work in the target country and explain the academic performance. It would really, really help if you applied via a contact instead of online. Search my blog for articles on "networking" and "non-target schools" which should give you the general idea of the recommended approach.

The easier application channels favor "standard" resume profiles. Since yours is unusual, you really want to get your application into the hands of someone you know or have developed a relationship with. You might find my guide on How to Network to Get a Management Consulting Interview useful.

Good luck!

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2 comments… add one
  • Francisco Jun 2, 2014, 6:46 pm

    Certainly that is one of the biggest weaknesses I have found on the recruitment procedures among the top tier consulting firms worldwide.

    Although the international academic background can be as impressive as an average Ivy League school, due to many factors such as diversity and cultural globalization analysis , most traditional consulting firms shake, when they deal with candidates that are out of the standardized format (MBA from the top US Schools or equivalent schools from other regions). Meanwhile, if you are an applicant that is located in a country that does not have a BBM office, then you are pretty much gone or out of the radar.

    The online application is just another waste of time, because there is no chance in the world to get picked up by their traditional key words search in the recruitment process, particularly related to academia.

    So,if you went to a top fancy Mickey Mouse´s School, and have not the famous brands- companies on the resume, then you could become a renegade consultant trying to beat the system on your own means.

  • David Chen Jul 23, 2014, 3:50 am

    Hi Victor,
    Thanks for the article!
    I am a recent graduate (majoring in political science with a minor in economics) from the University of Rochester. I graduated with a GPA of about 3.75 and my political science major GPA is above 3.9. I am currently pursuing an online certificate of data science offered by Johns Hopkins and I will be applying to MBB for full time analyst in September. My questions are:
    1. Do you think my GPA (cumulative or major) is high enough for non-target school applicants to get an interview?
    2. I heard from people who work in consulting industry that big firms like MBB favor candidates with data science background since more consulting firms are using data in their projects. Is this true?
    3. I have quite a few work experiences before – being a research assistant for econ professor & 2 consulting internships, but the firms that I worked for are not well known. Without the brand name factor, do you think they would still give me an interview?
    4. Since I will be applying to MBB in about 2 months, is there any advice you would like to give me to increase the chance of getting an interview apart from having more networking?

    Many thanks!

    David Chen

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