Lots of considerations here, coming from a college student that was making the same exactly decision 2-3 years ago. It's a highly personal decision, and one you definitely need to make for yourself based on what your goals are. I will lay out some pros and cons below that can help you guide your thoughts, but it would also be helpful for you to do some introspective thinking, and consult a mentor if you have one.
Notably higher pay than consulting
Very good Excel training ground
Easier/more normalized route to Private Equity roles if it is your end goal
Very standard to work 6-7 day weeks
90-100+ hour weeks are normal
No culture of training/development
Little exposure to senior leaders of the company
MOST Investment Banks are known to have abusive or otherwise toxic cultures
Brilliant colleagues that you get to work with and build relationships with
Very well-rounded training ground (Excel, Powerpoint, effective communication skills)
Very strong exit opportunities (Private Equity, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds, former clients you have worked with, strong propensity of consultants to found startups)
Almost always capped at 5-day work weeks, maximum possible would be 80 hours
Incredibly strong culture of training and personal development
Less pay than most starting Investment Bank salaries
The job is a lot more varied than Investment Banking, which requires a more broad skillset (can also be a positive depending on your perspective
Heavier travel than Investment Banking (can also be a positive)
Lots of things to consider here, the good thing about Management Consulting is that the domain experience you gain in Investment Banking is transferable, and probably visa versa, if you chose to go in to a finance specialism within Management Consulting. So if you make a choice then down the road want to look at the other, I doubt you will be unable to make the switch. I don't have much experience of Investment Banking, but I did work as a recruiter at IBM for a few years hiring Management Consultants across a number of industries and domains.
Consulting will provide different client projects that you will play a part in, either completing a small part of it or being a part of the whole project. You could for instance be doing something one week, and when that is over moving on to a new project. So if you like change, different projects, and can be flexible in what you are doing then you may enjoy being a Management Consultant. Some roles in consulting will require you to travel frequently to work on customer/client site, so if you are looking to be in one location only, depending on the consultancy, this may impact your decision making.
The other thing to consider about Management Consulting is there is a huge variety of careers within that, whether its as an industry expert (finance), a business analyst, project manager etc etc.
As a start I would look at the large consulting firms like KPMG, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, they will all have careers pages with different graduate programs and points of entry, take a look at what they offer and see if anything really sticks out to you. On a similar bit of research look at some of the large investment banks that offer graduate roles, companies like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credite Suisse to make some comparisons.
Both careers have very specific career ladders and promotion cycles, often more junior roles doing the more repetitive tasks, but as your move through the ranks gaining more autonomy and accountability.
Hope that helps.
Two of my very close friends were in the field of management consulting. One for 20 + years and another for less than 2 years. Each had the passion to help businesses drive growth and reach their specific company goals. Each have exited the field thus far. The first individual (20 + years) became burnt out and did not have a path forward to expand unless he wanted to start his own consulting company. The second individual (less than 2 years) loved his job but was let go due to businesses cutting expenses when the economy became challenged. This field is rewarding if you are a driven person who loves to work individually and does not mind the research and amount of travel that comes with this profession.
A long time family friend has been in investment banking for 30 + years. It was a very difficult and slow start but he stuck with it and worked his way up. Speaking with him he loves the fast pace and research that comes with this field. According to him to be successful in this field you have to have a passion for reading, making decisions with little input from colleagues and stay up on everything finance/tech related. This is a very competitive and at times cut-throat field. He also committed starting off you have to be willing to work long hours and be able change course on the drop of a hat. This field is rewarding if you enjoy the grind of research, reading and constantly staying up to date on the latest news of the world.
My suggestion on how to start is in Next Steps. I have read both of these books and highly recommend.
Daniel recommends the following next steps:
Great question, certainly can't go wrong with either decision. A couple things to consider to help make your decision:
1. Look at current opportunities offered to see if the job description is interesting to you
2. Reach out to people currently in the job and ask what their daily life is and why they chose it. Coffee chats will also help land you an interview for consulting and IB
3. Consider location; IB is typically but not exclusively located in NYC and Charlotte while consulting is all over the country
4. Consider whether you enjoy travel, depending on the firm and position consulting can have significant travel while IB typically does not
5. Remote or in office; higher likelihood to be remote in consulting compared to IB
6. Hours; Typically IB will have longer hours than consulting
Tou also have to decide if you want to be customer or client facing or analytical. Each can have role in “front” of customer or back-office.
Depends on your personality and where you see yourself growing..
Below are a few suggestions:
1. Explore any intern opportunities working in these careers. This can help you to understand the daily life of these careers.
2. Speak to someone who works in these industries.
3. Seek advice from career counselor in the college or your mentor (if any)
In fact, once you choose one of these careers, it does not imply that you cannot change again in the future. The most important is you can find an offering after you graduate. You can start with either one first and decide whether the career suits you.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!