Consulting internship vs. full-time application

Consulting internship vs. full-time application

Do you want to apply for an internship or a full-time role? 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.

Same, same but different

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, a phone interview or directly to the first round of case interview. In a similar fashion, the first round case interviews are usually the 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, he 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 internship and fulltime 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 fulltime. 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 is 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 fulltime 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.


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