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How Do Big 4 Consulting Internships Stack Up Against MBB?

McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group—the Nos. 2, 1, and 3 best consulting firms to work for, respectively, in 2022, according to Vault and Firsthand—either have really crappy internship programs or didn’t want to participate in Firsthand’s internship survey because MBB is not among the top 15 consulting firms that provide the best experiences for their young’uns.

To be fair, two of the Big 4 firms didn’t make the Vault-Firsthand 2023 ranking of the best consulting internships either. But two did—and both are in the top 10.

First, let’s take a look at how this MBB-less list was determined. This past summer, Vault-Firsthand surveyed more than 11,400 current and former interns about their actual internship experiences. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, respondents were asked to rate their internship experiences in six core areas:

  • Quality of life;
  • Compensation and benefits;
  • Interview process;
  • Career development;
  • Full-time employment prospects; and
  • Diversity.

To determine an overall score for each program, the ratings were assigned relative weights based on what interns told Vault-Firsthand they value most in an internship. The overall scores are based on the following weighted formula:

  • 30% career development;
  • 20% employment prospects;
  • 20% quality of life;
  • 20% compensation;
  • 5% diversity; and
  • 5% interview process.

Vault-Firsthand then compiled rankings of the top internship programs in more than 25 different areas, including best overall internships, best internships by industry, and most prestigious internships.

So in the consulting industry, Big 4 firms occupy the seventh and eighth spots in the best coffee fetchers internship program rankings:

7. EY-Parthenon Internship Program

Score: 8.983 out of 10

2022 ranking: 5

Vault-Firsthand says: As one of the world’s leading consulting firms, EY-Parthenon’s student programs are highly competitive. The top undergraduate students from all over the world apply every year for the company’s incredible summer internships. EY-Parthenon’s internships offer some of the best professional experience in the industry to full-time students looking to begin their careers in strategy consulting.

Interns work across industries and engage directly with clients, successfully handling the responsibility of a real EY-Parthenon employee. Because of the competitive nature of the program, students are encouraged to apply to no more than two positions in a six-month period. EY-Parthenon internships are full time, offer competitive wages, and benefits like medical and dental coverage, pension and 401(k) plans, and PTO options. Recruiting begins in the early fall for the following summer.

Like other consulting internships, applicants go through a series of behavioral and case interviews if their application is selected. This process, while intimidating, is excellent preparation for the kind of exciting projects interns work on during their time at EY-Parthenon. Every intern has an official mentor who guides them through the ups and downs of a career in consulting, giving informal feedback throughout the program as well as formal feedback.

8. PwC/Strategy& Summer Internship Program

Score: 8.876 out of 10

2022 ranking: 3

Vault-Firsthand says: PwC has multiple internship programs, including:

Start, PwC’s diversity internship experience, is an introductory internship which provides participants the opportunity to learn more about professional services while developing the digital and technical skills key for success in today’s business environment. At the completion of the internship, interns know what is expected of them as a PwC professional and will have built relationships, deepened their digital skills, and had exposure to client service work in the space of professional services.

PwC provides interns with a personalized learning experience—using on-the-job training, real-time development, smart technology, and data and analytics, giving interns customized access to formal and informal learning.

Client Experiences
Interns work directly with PwC partners, principals, and staff. Interns will practice the firm’s commitment to client service by executing responsibilities and gaining insight into the professional services sector.

Leadership Development Experience
In PwC’s integrated Leadership Development Experience (LDE), interns engage in dialogue with a dedicated coaching team focused on guiding them through the internship experience, providing in-the-moment feedback and supporting their development as a PwC professional.

Community Service
Responsible business leadership is PwC’s commitment to make an impact in their communities and deliver business value by helping create a more equitable society. Interns have the opportunity to experience responsible business leadership by participating in community service projects.

Interns are provided activities and virtual events—one-on-one coffee chats, group well-being activities, and social hours that will allow them to network with individuals based in their local office/markets and with individuals outside of their day-to-day team.

MBA Interns
MBA interns interact with senior-level clients, manage team tasks, create solutions and methodologies, and help develop proposals and thought leadership. Working alongside specialists in their chosen business area, they’ll be a valued member of the team, with graduate level responsibility. Interns are assigned to client projects to develop their understanding of what PwC really does, and will build networks with their colleagues and peer groups.

EY-Parthenon was the fifth best consulting firm to work for in 2022, according to Vault-Firsthand, while PwC/Strategy& didn’t make the top 50.

Among the top 100 overall internship programs, EY-Parthenon’s came in at No. 47 (tied with Gilead), and PwC/Strategy&’s wound up at No. 59. Again, no MBB.

If prestige is more your bag, you’ll finally find the M and one of the B’s in Vault-Firsthand’s ranking of the 50 most prestigious internships, which also includes PwC/Strategy&. The only reason you’ll see McKinsey and Bain on this list vs. the others we mentioned is because survey respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the prestige of companies other than their own based on their reputations:

11. McKinsey Summer Analyst and Associate Programs
19. Bain Summer Associate Program
27. PwC/Strategy& Summer Internship Program

As we mentioned last month in our post on Vault-Firsthand’s ranking of the best accounting internships for 2023, each Big 4 firm has an internship program that is considered prestigious:

18. Deloitte
25. EY (EY Launch)
27 PwC (Summer Internship)
33. KPMG

Related article:

2023 Accounting Internship Programs, Ranked