No IIT? No Problem! How Master's of Engineering Programs Are A Bridge To McKinsey

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

In India, a lot of management consulting job applicants turn in resumes that include one-year Master's Programs.

These are not necessarily MBAs.

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In India, a lot of management consulting job applicants turn in resumes that include one-year Master's Programs.

These are not necessarily MBAs.

The only way to get face time with firms like Accenture or McKinsey without a degree from IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) is to get into an IIM (Indian Institute of Management) or ISB (Indian School of Business) for an MBA!

These are premier business schools in India--the equivalent of Harvard Business School or Stanford Graduate School of Business-- and would give you an opportunity to interview with a BCG or a Bain.To get into an IIM, you take a crazy exam known as the CAT. You need to get a percentile of 99.95 on the exam to get into these schools, just like the IITs. Once you are on campus, it's another huge rat race. Only 10 or 15 people maximum from each campus are chosen for consulting jobs.

I knew this was not what I wanted to do. Instead, I looked for a relatively short Master's program, but not an MBA, that could equip me with skills relevant to consulting.

Many students in India go for a Master's degree in engineering or computer science, which often forfeits one's chances of moving into non-tech jobs like those at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs. Why would you want to do a Bachelor's in engineering and another Master's and then have an interesting enough story (assuming you didn’t go to IIT) to get consulting jobs?

I decided programs in the U.S. to further differentiate my resume. There are 5 or 6 such schools in the U.S.--Dartmouth, Duke, Cornell, Stanford-- that offer a Master's in Engineering Management, filling the gap between business and engineering. The degree is made for engineers, but gives a better background for strategy consulting.

Master's in Engineering Management programs are not the only ones that can get you into management consulting. A Master's in Financial Engineering, given at University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University,  or a generic Master's in Management, popular in Europe, may also be helpful. Few people go to consulting with a Financial Engineering degree, but it will give greater leverage and show interest in the non-technical side of things.

Colleges offering these degrees are very high profile, Ivy League-tier colleges that provide opportunities for students who want to break into non-technical jobs. This is not the case in India. In India, the flexibility of choosing a program or a Master's or a concentration within engineering doesn't exist.

In the U.S., students can do a concentration in Economics and Bio-Medical Engineering at the same time. After your sophomore year, you could change concentrations if you wanted.

In India, it’s different. Because of the way the education system works in India, you may not be able to change to another major, such as business, because of time constraints. Once you've decided on engineering, you have to complete that degree for four years with no variation. This is why you see a surge of Indian students with engineering backgrounds applying to bridge degrees like the Master's in Engineering Management, Master's in Financial Engineering, and so forth.

In recent years, these bridge degree programs have grown significantly as Indian students (and to a certain degree, all international students) realized that they are great bridge to the upper tiers of management consulting and investment banking.
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