Each summer for more than a decade, bright-eyed incoming MBAs have stepped into Bain Consulting offices around the world to get a sense of what it would be like to work as a consultant — and, more specifically, to see what it’d be like to work as a consultant for Bain, one of the world’s largest consulting companies. The program, ExperienceBain, takes place throughout the summer.
“We created ExperienceBain over a decade ago as a way to introduce incoming MBA students to consulting and to the recruiting process the summer before they begin business school. It was purely informational – get to know consulting, get to know Bain, and learn when and how to apply,” says Emily Render, a specialist in Global Recruiting at Bain’s Chicago office. The company is headquartered in Boston. “Over time it became clear that students wanted a lot more. They wanted to truly dig into the consultant role through immersive workshops and lively discussion and to build relationships with Bain consultants that would stay with them throughout their time in business school.”
Consulting continues to be a trending industry for newly minted MBA grads. A quarter of 2018’s graduating class from Harvard Business School went into consulting. The same amount of Wharton 2018 graduates also entered consulting. At the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, 31% of 2018 graduates went into consulting — 10 full percentage points more than any other industry. Similarly, at Columbia Business School, consulting overtook finance as the most popular industry for 2018 MBA graduates.
INCOMING MBAs MAY CHOOSE BETWEEN FIVE EXPERIENCEBAIN PROGRAMS
Top firms like Bain are doing what they can to gain access to elite talent as early as possible while flexing their MBA pipelines. “As our business has grown, we have grown ExperienceBain alongside it,” Render says. The first iteration of the program featured just the “Global” program, which is now the most popular and takes place across 57 different Bain offices around the world. “If you were working in London the summer before business school, you would visit Bain’s London office,” Render explains. “However, today’s MBA student is a lot more global and often interested in markets far from their summer location. Our ‘Global’ program is now focused on connecting students with their true offices of interest, both in person and virtually.”
ExperienceBain has now grown to include programs in Tech, Diversity, Veterans, and Women’s Summit. “These programs also serve as a platform to connect students with similar interests or backgrounds with each other, as they all embark on the same next chapter in their lives,” Render adds. Regardless of the program, Render says the events range from two hours to a couple of days in length.
“ExperienceBain is a great choice for any incoming MBA student,” Render maintains. “The events are all highly interactive and help students build out their business toolkits – everything from design thinking to inspirational leadership to generally learning our approach to problem-solving which translates across industries. And, beyond the events, top applicants across all programs will be granted access to our Bain Network and receive one-on-one career mentorship from Bain leaders.”
ONE MBA’S PATH TO BAIN
For Caitlin Breen, the ExperienceBain program was her main introduction to consulting and Bain. Prior to entering the full-time MBA program at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Breen had spent her early career working as a business analyst and in operations and finance at Target as well as a financial consultant at UnitedHealthcare. “The event itself introduced me to what it means to be a consultant at Bain, exclusive access to contacts at the firm, and familiarized me with the Chicago office where I was intending to apply,” Breen tells Poets&Quants.
Breen says when she heard about the program, it was a “no-brainer” for her to attend. “It was an opportunity to invest time in my future career, as well as build early relationships, prior to getting onto campus,” Breen says. “I had been told that schedules get hectic once school starts — which is true. Between classes, extra-curriculars, and recruiting – ExperienceBain was an opportunity to assess whether consulting was right for me and to connect directly with the firm prior to all of the craziness.”
Breen used the opportunity to launch a career at Bain and in consulting, where she is now a consultant in the Chicago office.
“One of my favorite parts was breaking into small groups to dive into a real Bain case and learn how Bain consultants approach a complex problem,” Breen says. “This really helped me understand what I would be doing as a consultant and test whether consulting would be a good fit for me. I also really enjoyed getting to know consultants in a low-pressure environment to learn more about their b-school experiences and what brought them to Bain.”
Applications for this year’s programming close on May 6 and is eligible to all incoming MBAs for the fall of 2019.
“My advice is to take some time to contemplate what your career goals are and what your intent is for recruiting,” Breen says. “ExperienceBain gives you a first look into the job and a career with the firm – something you don’t get at most companies. It truly is a no-stakes opportunity to introduce yourself and to let the firm get to know you in return. Of course, take time to travel and visit with friends and family, but take the time to invest in yourself and leverage these amazing opportunities that are available to you.”