What Kind Of A Degree in India Gets You Into Consulting

by Jaineel Aga

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

The educational landscape in India is important to understand it before choosing a career.

After graduating from the 12th grade exam, also known as HSC (or equivalent state boards), most people opt to pursue engineering. This is because most of the prestigious colleges, called the India Institutes of Technology (IITs), are pure technology colleges. It has been the mindset of generations to assume that if you are smart you either become a doctor or engineer.

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The educational landscape in India is important to understand it before choosing a career.

After graduating from the 12th grade exam, also known as HSC (or equivalent state boards), most people opt to pursue engineering. This is because most of the prestigious colleges, called the India Institutes of Technology (IITs), are pure technology colleges. It has been the mindset of generations to assume that if you are smart you either become a doctor or engineer.

I had topped my school and secured admission to the best high school (junior college) with the goal of applying to the IITs, like most other "academically driven" people do.

The IITs are known for being able to change lives. Post-IIT, a student may bag a job that pays ten times more than the graduate market average in the country. The aspiration for most people is to get into IIT whether or not they really want to be in technology.

My story was no different. I come from a family with three generations of engineers, and my older brother went to IIT, so wanting to pursue IIT was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I didn't pass the IIT exam to get in.

My first failure in this sense was that I could not make it to the premium schools. I knew that it was a bad day, which normally happens with the intense pressure of the entry exam (one mark can put you up and down by 200 ranks). There are only 5,000 ranks and around one million applicants for this exam.

Although I didn't get into IIT, I did reasonably well in my state exams, to get me into the only A+ accredited, private engineering school in Mumbai.

Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that no graduate of any of the non-IIT schools can ever make it to management consulting in India. The firms don't come to recruit; they don't value any other brand. I had to work hard to break through.

I interacted with my brother’s friends from IIT, the guys who had made it to firms like McKinsey, Bain, or BCG. I steadily built my resume.

One thing that absolutely works against you in India is a stereotypical, non-differentiated profile. You would have seen that many people from India and China, especially from India, including some at good business schools in the U.S., are not able to get consulting jobs or even consulting interviews because they have a very stereotypical background. They probably work three or four years in information technology (IT) services, have a bachelor's engineering degree, and are now looking to switch careers.

In conclusion, if you are from IIT, you have a natural route to make it into consulting after graduation. If not, one needs to ensure they have differentiated themselves from the rest.  If you still in high school, you are now well aware of the kind of degree you need in India that gets you into consulting!
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