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by Phil Stott | April 30, 2018


Harvard Business School Baker Library in spring

Once upon a time, there was a well-worn path into the upper echelons of the consulting industry—college, then a first (and sometimes a second) job to gain experience, followed by business school, where the titans of the industry would come calling and your career could truly achieve liftoff.

Over the past decade—and perhaps longer—that path has been changing. Consulting firms, who once only had to convince freshly-minted MBAs that a career jetting around the world tackling tough problems was preferable to whatever it is that investment bankers do, now face talent supply headwinds wherever they look. You name it—from 4% unemployment to competition from Silicon Valley to tighter restrictions on employment visas—all of these things are making it harder for firms to pull the talent they need out of B-school.

If you know anything about the industry, you'll know what happened next: firms have been hiring out of undergrad programs instead.

For a stark reminder of how that has changed the market, consider this: according to efinancialcareers, approximately 15% of the graduating class of 2018 at Harvard Business School had a background in consulting. That's right: where once Harvard was the prep school for consulting firms, a stint as a consultant seems to fast be becoming the a prerequisite for getting into Harvard.

And, as the same article shows, there's one firm that seems to give you a better chance of getting into HBS than any other: fully 7% of this year's Harvard Business School intake appear to be Bain & Co. alums, including 38 former full-time consultants, and 29 former summer associates.

The method that efinancialcareers used to figure that out is interesting, too: they used Bain's campus networking tool, which I will admit is something I did not know existed until today. Having played around with it, it's a very useful way to find recruitment information, fellow Bainies, or contacts who might be able to give you an introduction to someone inside the firm.

Finally, Harvard isn't the only elite campus where the word "Bain" seems to be opening doors: the article also notes that the business schools at Wharton, Stanford, Chicago Booth, and Northwestern all count former Bain consultants and/or summer associates among their 2018 intakes.

So if you're planning to go to business school, the advice is clear: start applying now—for a job at Bain.