I recently stumbled upon your website after considering pursuing a future in management consulting. I’m a medical student at the moment at a top 30 medical school, and I plan on finishing my MD in the next couple of years.

I graduated with a biochemistry degree from the (Top 20 Univesity). To my knowledge, the big 3 firms all hire people with professional degrees, but it seems like only McKinsey actively seeks them out. Many of my friends from undergrad are currently in management consulting, and I have a fairly good idea of how the business works and how case studies are looked at.

Can you offer some insight into McKinsey’s (or any of the top 3 firm’s) hiring trend of people from a medical background? Also, what are some things I can do to make myself a more attractive candidate for the job? What are some things I should look out for as a MD trying to break into consulting?

My Reply:

Business knowledge and terminology can be taught. Be brilliant analytically can not.

The reason many firms, McKinsey in particular (and BCG in Europe) are reaching out to other professions is to tap less traditional pools of talent to find the best and the brightest.

The rationale is hiring a top 10% graduate of a top medical school and training them in business, will likely yield better results for the firm that hiring a business school graduate that’s in the top 20% – 30% range.

The #1 thing you can do to stand out is to 1) have a really explanation why you want to work in consulting and in particular the firm you’re interviewing with, 2) do something that proves this interest – read business publications, do projects with MBA students at your school… everyone says they’re interested, do something (almost anything) that PROVES you’re REALLY interested.

And then be sure you tell the interviewer what you’ve done (generally under the auspices of trying to figure out if you wanted to do consulting or not).

So you might something like this, “To try to figure out if consulting would be a good fit for me, I spoke John Smith in your Chicago office to see what his experience was like. Then I spoke to Jane Richards, Mary Edwards, Dave Michaels, too… and in particular they all mentioned X aspect of the job that I find really appealing.”