Are you thinking about making a pivot from academia and not sure how to do it? It might be worth applying to Bridge to BCG (and/or McKinsey’s Insight program or Bain’s ADvantage).
The Bridge to BCG program is a 3-day immersive recruiting workshop that gives Ph.D. and other advanced degree candidates a chance to learn about BCG and careers in consulting.
Over these 3 days, you’ll solve a mini-business case with a small team of other participants managed by a real project leader (i.e., a mid-level manager). This mini-case will give you a feel for the kinds of problems BCG solves for clients. The experience will also give you the opportunity to meet tons of BCG consultants from recent hires to senior partners. These consultants, with expertise across all industries, will be there only to talk to you.
Bridge to BCG is a great way for you to see whether consulting is for you. You’ll get a real sense for the culture of the firm, and you’ll meet other motivated candidates who you can team up with to practice case interviewing. I went through Bridge to BCG myself during my recruiting process, and my two best friends at BCG were part of my cohort there.
Moreover, being invited to Bridge to BCG comes with an automatic invitation to first round interviews for a full-time job later that summer.
If that piques your curiosity, read on. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Who is eligible for the Bridge to BCG program?
- How do you apply?
- My experience in the Bridge to BCG program.
- 5 tips on getting accepted to the program.
Let’s get started!
Who Is Eligible for the Bridge to BCG Program?
Bridge to BCG is a recruiting workshop dedicated to advanced degree candidates:
- Ph.D. students (typically within 6-18 months of graduation)
- And other advanced degree candidates.
It usually takes place in late spring to early summer and is for candidates who would like to start working full time anywhere from later that summer to the end of the following year at the latest (so within 18 months of the program taking place at most, though specifics on the starting date might depend on the office you’re applying to).
If you have an atypical profile that does not fit any of these boxes but you’re not an MBA either (for instance, you have a couple of M.Sc.), it is worth talking with the recruiting team to see whether you’d qualify as an advanced degree candidate.
Bridge to BCG is hosted in 4-5 regions of North American offices based on office interest.
- The Southeast (for candidates interested in Altlanta and Dallas)
- The Northeast (for candidates interested in New York and Boston)
- West Coast (for candidates interested in San Francisco and LA)
- Chicago (for candidates interested in midwest offices)
To my knowledge this program exists only for North America, but it’s worth checking with your local office as well.
How Do You Apply?
Candidates for the most recent session of Bridge to BCG first had to submit a resume while applying online (no cover letter was needed). Those who passed the resume screen were asked to take the BCG Pymetrics test and complete a BCG one-way interview. The lucky few were then invited to participate in Bridge to BCG.
Double-check the BCG website for the application process for the next recruiting season as it changes from year to year (link at the end of this article). Make sure you don’t miss deadlines.
Participants in Bridge to BCG are automatically invited to an early first round of interviews a few weeks after the workshop. You therefore get the double advantage of knowing tons of people who you meet in the firm and an interview spot in the early in the season, when the entry class is virtually empty and their target number of new recruits (which no one will ever mention to you but does exist) is clearly not binding.
Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.
Bridge to BCG Is Not the Only Way in for Advanced Degree Candidates
One thing to note is that given the nature of the program and the limited size of each group (~30-50 I’d say), this is an extremely competitive program to get into.
That being said, it is most definitely not the only way to get a job at BCG as an advanced degree candidate. Even if you do not get into Bridge to BCG you should still apply for a full-time position directly later that same recruiting season.
I know people who did not get into Bridge to BCG, still got invited for first round interviews later that summer after applying again, and got the job. (Also, not everyone at Bridge ends up working at BCG despite interviewing early).
Note that in the spring of 2021 Bridge was held virtually for rather obvious reasons. This program should get back to in-person as soon as it’s safe to do so, likely in 2022.
My Experience with the Bridge to BCG Program
I loved going through Bridge to BCG: it’s what got me convinced that consulting was the right next step for me and that BCG in particular was the right firm for that.
In fact, I enjoyed interacting with the people I met there so much that I actually canceled my final round interview at McKinsey when I got my BCG offer.
Why I Applied
I’d completed my Master’s degree and was in the 4th year of my Ph.D. when I realized I simply did not want to stay in academia and started considering other options.
Consulting made a lot of sense for me as it was both a great way to leverage the skills I had just spent 5 years honing–such as a strong analytical mind and great work independence–while giving myself a fantastic spot from which to learn about many different industries. I thought about these potential career paths as “real jobs.”
It looked like a refreshing change from the rhythm in academia where it could sometimes feel like I spent 5 years talking about 3 topics with the same 20 people. Plus, I knew that the pay was good and there was the opportunity to work on high-profile business problems. I decided that if I were to enter the private sector, I might as well try doing so from what many see as the top way in.
BCG was the firm that I was most interested in. I had a lot of friends who worked there back in Europe, so I had a positive regard toward it being a good fit. When reading about the various firms and their values (hint: this matters!) BCG’s resonated most strongly with me. I also loved that it was founded by a guy who was basically a researcher with a cunning skill for packaging great common-sense insights in clear and compelling marketing.
As an international student, big companies like BCG seemed more likely to sponsor visas and green cards than boutique firms. In addition, its international presence meant that I’d be able to transfer internally to another country if I wasn’t able to work in the US at any point.
Finally, the very fact that a program like Bridge existed told me that BCG valued my academic experience and was going out of its way to recruit people like me with a specialized track.
My Time at Bridge to BCG: 3 Days in the New York Office
Pre-pandemic, participants were welcomed in the NY office for a nice breakfast and an initial presentation of the program. The bulk of the activities was then centered on a mini-business case that we solved over the course of the 3 days. All the participants were split into teams of ~5-6, with each team managed by an actual BCG project leader.
We alternated between:
- Working sessions in our respective team rooms.
- Semi-formal presentations where senior BCGers talked about the firm and the industries it serves.
- Social times where we mingled and networked with people from various offices and levels, all flown in specifically for this.
The team’s work included brainstorming, crunching data in Excel, interviewing “clients” (BCGers acting), running various analyses, and joining it all together in a final deck of slides summarizing our insights.
On the last day, all the teams went through a mock “steering committee,” presenting the results of our work and their recommendation to the “clients,” partners and principals who delighted in taking on the roles of sometimes recalcitrant stakeholders.
These 3 days were really about experiencing the various steps of the job, from discovering the client and their question all the way to pitching our recommendation to them.
I loved how homey and intimate it felt. Everybody we met there talked to us like we were already part of the firm. This was a constant through my time in consulting: you work hard (really hard), but people value you and make sure you are feeling it.
Finally, having so many rewarding interactions with BCG consultants, project leaders, principals, and partners during these 3 days–both during networking and while solving a case–helped me build a lot of confidence before the interviews, which probably showed.
5 Tips On Getting Accepted To The Bridge to BCG Program
1. Know the Recruiting Process
Double-check the most up-to-date info on the BCG website. Pen deadlines into your calendar and reminders a week before them. Be methodical in how you will prepare for interviews. Get in touch with the recruiting team if you have any questions.
2. Familiarize Yourself with BCG
Attend BCG recruiting events as much as you can. If you make a strong impression on someone at one of these events this might help you later. Moreover, you can talk about the people you meet in answering any “Why BCG?” or “Why consulting?” questions you’re asked in interviews. Similarly, watch BCG’s promotional material on their website, subscribe to their newsletter, etc., to show that you know the firm.
3. Work on your Resume
Your resume is what is used to do the biggest initial sort through candidates, so you want to prepare it seriously. See our article on consulting resumes for all the details on writing one that gets you to the “yes” pile.
4. Prepare for the Pymetrics Test
The Pymetrics test is a series of mini-games that assess various personality and cognitive traits. Read about our BCG Pymetrics article for information on what BCG is looking for, train on other brain games apps, and make sure you get a good night’s sleep the day before.
5. Prepare for the One-Way BCG interview
The one-way interview consists of a few behavioral questions to answer in front of your computer and submit via video. Preparing for these is very similar to preparing for the fit portion of consulting interviews. See our BCG one way interview article for tips on how to prepare for it.
Links to Bridge to BCG + Other Consulting Programs for Ph.D. and Advanced Degree Candidates
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In this article, we’ve covered:
- What Bridge to BCG is.
- Who can apply.
- The application process for Bridge to BCG.
- My experience going through Bridge to BCG.
- 5 Tips to apply to Bridge to BCG.
Still have questions?
If you have more questions about the Bridge to BCG Consulting program, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.
Other advanced degree candidates planning to apply to management consulting firms found the following pages helpful:
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