I think your site is wonderful, and I really appreciate the work that you do.

Yesterday I got the call from McKinsey and BCG and both have accepted me for positions.  Now it comes down to weighing the options!

Thanks so much!

P.S. Do you have any thoughts on McKinsey vs. BCG?

My Reply:

Congratulations. Sounds like you had one really good day.

Oh, you have a very nice problem. Both firms are great. You really can’t go wrong.

At the firm level, I’d say maybe McKinsey has a very slight edge in terms of a larger, more connected Alumni network, but in terms of future career opportunities, I think it’s basically the same.

In terms of deciding, I think you’re better off not thinking about which firm is better, but rather which office or practice you’ll be joining is a better fit for you.

The better choice will be the one where you fit in better, like the people better, or the office you’ll be joining has more work in a particular industry that you want to work in.

If you have any previously established credibility in either office, such as you were a high performing intern at one of the firms the prior year, that’s a major factor too.

Once you start at a firm, these firms are very reputation-based. You will very quickly develop a reputation and it pretty much colors all of your opportunities in the future internally.

When you first start, they’re afraid you’ll screw up. So, they have you do very little and have someone else double-check your work (by work I mean both quantitative analysis as well as people-skills both are truly equally important — no joke – the latter being more important in the long run).

If you start with a strong reputation (say from a prior internship), you get staffed on more challenging projects/roles, you end up learning faster, developing your skills faster, and ultimately get an edge in terms of promotions.

This was certainly my experience. When I was at McKinsey, out of 100 analysts hired across the world, after two years I was ranked one of the Top 10.

I was promoted to Associate when I was 23 years old (making me one of the firm’s youngest Associates in history) and was asked to start managing some engagements, a role usually reserved for third year Associates / Engagement Managers – typically 30+ years of age.

Once I had the reputation as one of McKinsey’s so-called “rising stars,” the partners leading the toughest new clients began to request me — even from other offices across the firm.

So, the whole thing is a virtuous cycle — and it starts with developing a good reputation early. So, to the extent that this is easier for you to do at one firm vs. another (again I don’t know if you have any personal history with either firm), that’s certainly an important consideration.

I’d encourage you to do your homework on the type of work each office does and meet the specific people you may be likely to work with, rather than debate which firm is better.

Once again congratulations on your two offers — very exciting.