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by Vault Consulting Editors | November 18, 2008

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An article in today's Journal talks about the different paths MBAs are turning to, now that investment banking can't be the catch-all career for those interested in finance. At many business schools, nearly 50% of graduates hope to land careers at investment banks or financial services firms, but in today's economy, those students must turn on their thinking caps, look beyond their nose and consider the alternatives.

First on their list, and for those generally lacking in creativity, are smaller boutique and middle-market investment firms. Consulting is also high up on the list of alternatives, and many companies that I've spoken with have reported a big surge in applicants at the entry level, especially in New York and DC, from individuals who had gone the banking route last year. Needless to say, this broader applicant pool has only made firms more selective and, sorry to say, the would-be bankers are often not at the top of the priority list, having shown no interest in consulting before the finance industry hoopla. As Julie Coffman, head of Bain & Co. recruiting in North America, puts it, recruiters now have to make sure applicants are "interested in Bain because of what we offer, not just because other avenues have closed. We don't want folks to wait out the storm for 12 to 18 months on our watch."

The WSJ article notes that finance-oriented MBAs are also looking into back-office finance positions at large companies like Philips Electronics and Unilever. The consulting firms I've spoken to, however, have been interviewing MBAs for consulting positions, not for finance-related roles.

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Filed Under: Consulting
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