Consulting internship vs. full-time application at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain

the image is the cover of an article on how to decide for a consulting internship vs a full-time position

Do you want to apply for an internship or a full-time role with McKinsey, BCG, or Bain? Or is your goal to apply for an internship to be extended a full-time offer in the end?

What are the differences? What are your chances to succeed? We will answer these questions in today’s post.

Internship vs. full-time role and application

The process for full-time or internship roles is very similar. In general, the full application process covers several rounds, starting with the screening stage, followed by two interview rounds that eventually should lead to an offer (read the overview of the consulting application process here).

Normally, the screening stage consists of the same elements for both interns and full-timers. Their application documents are screened and if found suitable, candidates move on to online tests (McKinsey Imbellus, BCG Online Case, BCG Pymetrics, BCG one-way video interview) a phone interview, or directly to the first round of case interviews. In a similar fashion, the first-round case interviews are usually held for all candidates. If you apply for an internship, you will receive the offer or rejection right after this round while full-timers can expect a second round and sometimes even a third-round (after a successful first round, of course). The evaluation criteria for each candidate are the same, however, the benchmark on which they are measured might be slightly lower for potential interns (depending on their stage of development). This is even more true for second-tier or smaller consultancies.

How do your chances differ between an internship and full-time applications?

If you are just interested in an internship, go apply.

If you follow a more long-term perspective and are interested in a full-time role, should you do an internship first? The answer is: That depends.

There are a few benefits of doing an internship before going in full-time. Overall, it is slightly to get in as screening and interview criteria might be more lenient depending on your state of development. Additionally, as an intern, you have the opportunity to get to know the daily work life and the environment within the company before you commit your life to it. On the downside, you have many more opportunities to screw up in a ten-week internship compared to a second round of interviews (read how to survive your first weeks in consulting here). Keep in mind that conversion rates from internship to full-time roles are quite high, as firms tend to give interns a positive experience and in a more ‘relaxed’ working environment in order to attract them for a full-time role.  However, sometimes even very good people do not get extended an offer in the end for no apparent reason (e.g. falling through the cracks as the partner is in a bad mood, never available during the project, or simply for some bureaucratic reasons).

If you are unsure about your long-term goals, it is probably best to do an internship first. Even if you don’t get extended an offer, you can still apply for a full-time role later (except when your performance during the internship was really bad), as you would do if you have failed the first-round interviews (read how to recoup from a bad interview here).

Be aware that some elite firms such as McKinsey & Company do not accept internship applications once you have graduated. For some firms, offers extended at the end of an internship are conditional to successfully passing a final partner round consisting of one or more interviews with senior organizational leaders.

Lastly, keep in mind that doing an internship in a lower-tier consultancy can often help to enhance your profile for tier 1 management consulting applications.

In the end, the decision is up to you. Think about what suits you best and apply for the respective position.

How we can help you get the consulting internship or full-time role

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