And heck, we wouldn’t blame ya!
Darden recently reported an all-time high starting salary coming from its 2019 graduating class , to the tune of $152k plus bonus. That’s likely skewed by one person’s $173k base — always be sure to question headlines like that. The numbers from Darden with that outlier salary excluded are likely very similar to employment data at schools like Michigan Ross . But you can’t deny it, these are alluring numbers indeed.
These high salaries for consulting may be particularly appealing when compared to the previous booster-of-averages, financial services, where you have to, like, know finance to command the high salaries. Darden hasn’t been a huge feeder to the premier Wall Street institutions over the years though they’ve always had a solid channel to that sector, but at Darden and everywhere, that’s simply not where the momentum is. There were 102 grads from Darden going into consulting, which is a slightly lower percentage overall, given that consulting has typically attracted about half of the class (320 students graduated from Darden this past May), compared to 70 grads going to finance, with an average salary of about $135k. Next-biggest draw was to tech, with 43 students and an average start of close to $122k. All of this is evidence that the economy is doing okay at the moment, and clearly there’s no softening of demand for MBAs. Consulting firms are only hiring in such numbers and with such packages to fresh grads when they see lots of projects from their own clients coming down the pike, and that only happens when the CEOs and CFOs of those big firms see good prospects on the horizon. Until everyone realizes they’re wrong, of course. But for now… things are good.
So why wouldn’t you want to go into consulting?!?
Actually, you very well might! This post isn’t trying to talk you out of that. Not at all.
What this post is about is how you pitch your goal of consulting in your MBA apps.
Maybe you decide on consulting because
you know you can make a lot of money you think it’s sexy and exciting (especially when the word “strategy” is placed in front of it).
Lots of people say “consulting” in their essays. It’s one of the most common career goals we see. That alone is not a reason to say something else, because obviously, given those numbers above about placements, bschool is a solid path into that field. You don’t want to try to use career goals as the way you’re differentiating yourself. Goals need to be authentically what you intend to do with your life post-MBA. Goals are not to make the adcom think that you’re so smart or special or motivated or different. Goals are best used to actually say why the MBA is necessary.
But there’s this thing where so many folks kinda just don’t know! They don’t know what they want to do with themselves. They just know that they’re stuck, and they are ready for a change, or heck, all their friends are going to bschool. And then they are faced with the prospect of writing a career goals essay, and they don’t know, so, yeah. Consulting.
Here’s the deal, whippersnapper: You at least need to know enough about consulting so that you can speak intelligently about what it is, why you’re interested, what type of consulting you want to do.
Here’s some feedback we offered to someone in your very shoes recently!
We still have questions about how consulting fits in to the big picture for you, but if you feel that consulting is the right path for you to realize your future aspirations, it’s totally viable as a stepping stone (when positioned appropriately, of course!). And, to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter what the goals themselves are (kind of) — it matters how you lay them out and WHY you’ve decided they’re the right goals for you. So, all of this planning and introspection and questioning is super important, but in the end, the adcoms are going to buy into it if it’s really what you want to do — that level of commitment and excitement always shines through when it’s authentically pitched. It’s not just meant as an exercise in saying the right thing for the adcom to go along with; it’s about coming up with what really gets you going, and showing how the MBA is the perfect next step to get you there.
So here’s the tl;dr:
If you decide on “consulting” as your post-MBA path, then be sure you know WHY YOU WANT TO BE A CONSULTANT.
You may also be interested in:
- The full ‘snarchive on consulting as an MBA career goal
- EssaySnark’s Career Goals App Accelerator — for personalized and specific feedback on exactly what you are planning to pitch!