McKinsey Offer vs. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Offer

Question:

I think your site is wonderful, and I really appreciate the work that you do.

Yesterday I got the call from McKinsey and BCG and both have accepted me for positions.  Now it comes down to weighing the options!

Thanks so much!

P.S. Do you have any thoughts on McKinsey vs. BCG?

My Reply:

Congratulations. Sounds like you had one really good day.

Oh, you have a very nice problem. Both firms are great. You really can't go wrong.

At the firm level, I'd say maybe McKinsey has a very slight edge in terms of a larger, more connected Alumni network, but in terms of future career opportunities, I think it's basically the same.

In terms of deciding, I think you're better off not thinking about which firm is better, but rather which office or practice you'll be joining is a better fit for you.

The better choice will be the one where you fit in better, like the people better, or the office you'll be joining has more work in a particular industry that you want to work in.

If you have any previously established credibility in either office, such as you were a high performing intern at one of the firms the prior year, that's a major factor too.

Once you start at a firm, these firms are very reputation-based. You will very quickly develop a reputation and it pretty much colors all of your opportunities in the future internally.

When you first start, they're afraid you'll screw up. So they have you do very little, and have someone else double-check your work (by work I mean both quantitative analysis as well as people-skills both are truly equally important -- no joke - the latter being more important in the long run).

If you start with a strong reputation (say from a prior internship), you get staffed on more challenging projects/role, you end up learning faster, developing your skills faster, and ultimately get an edge in terms of promotions.

This was certainly my experience. When I was at McKinsey, out of 100 analysts hired across the world, after two years I was ranked one of the Top 10.

I was promoted to Associate when I was 23 years old (making me one of the firm's youngest Associates in history) and was asked to start managing some engagements, a role usually reserved for third year Associates / Engagement Managers - typically 30+ years of age.

Once I had the reputation as one of McKinsey's so called "rising stars", the partners leading the toughest new clients began to request me -- even from other offices across the firm.

So the whole thing is a virtuous cycle -- and it starts with developing a good reputation early. So to the extent this is easier for you to do at one firm vs. another (again I don't know if you have any personal history with either firm), that's certainly an important consideration.

So I'd encourage you to do your homework on the type of work each office does, and meet the specific people you may be likely to work with, rather than debate which firm is better.

Once again congratulations on your two offers -- very exciting.

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5 comments… add one
  • noname Mar 30, 2012, 6:45 am

    Hi thanks for the comment,

    There is something wrong here that really doesn’t make sense to me. If you were such a star!!! why did you end up running such a website?!

    It doesn’t make sense to me… you better be genuine in terms of the content than fooling people….
    Thanks,
    Moe

  • Joe May 13, 2012, 4:45 pm

    @Moe
    You’ll find plenty of such people in career offices at top bschools.
    After having a successful career earning their do-whatever-you-want money, some go lounge on the beach, advise other companies, advise students, advise wannabe consultants, etc.
    They’ve built up a deep level of expertise and it’s their luxury to make use of it without being put to the grind every day anymore.

  • redbull Oct 12, 2012, 5:21 am

    Mate, your site is informative but can’t stand you talking about yourself all the time! You just have one life, and at any time you can work only at one place…what is it with saying ” I used this to ace 60 out of 61 case interviews” and get 7 job offers! And to top it all, you “rising start” left McK to start this website! I hope that running the website is not your only job, cos I don’t think it would be getting the cash flows. And BTW, I work for McK as well

    • rohan Dec 13, 2014, 8:30 am

      Mr. redbull, Calm down !

      3 things:

      1.Victor is a great guy. Leave him alone-nobody is asking you to come to his website (which by the way is a great website)

      2. Unless you are maybe a partner at the firm, I am sure this website is making more money than your salary.

      3. Most of what he says makes perfect sense. And I too, work at the firm..

      Have a good day mate !

  • Tim May 16, 2014, 2:48 am

    Yeah, as a former McKinsey associate I need to agree with some commentators. Some things don’t add up. There are definitely more than 100 analysts per year. I worked in Germany and there alone more than 100 asc/BA’s are hired every year. There is also no global ranking of analysts. I think you got confused with US vs. Worldwide.

    I also don’t think BCG compares to McKinsey anywhere. If you are McKinsey alumni you have access to worldwide alumni network in any major economy going back decades. BCG or other consultancies have started this only recently and their cohesion doesn’t exist in some countries. I also don’t think BCG get the prestige and thought-leadership that McKinsey gets. Both combined, network and prestige, gives you a major advantage in your career. You will connected into any relevant organization with 2-3 phone-calls. No other consultancy has that.

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