Molecular biology PhD to BCG/McKinsey – how to get there? [Europe]

Hey there,

I checked the subreddit and the last similar post was 3 years ago, so I hope you won’t mind a new one.

I’m looking for any advice about making a transition from the PhD in molecular biology to BCG/McKinsey. I am at the 3rd year of my PhD and I want to start looking for consulting positions early next year (I will be finishing my PhD August or later), so I have around 9 months – 1 year to improve.

  1. What skills should I develop?

  2. What experience besides academia is valuable and possible to get for a really busy PhD student?

  3. How should I approach it? When should I start applying? How long does the process take?

  4. Is networking really a thing? How to start? Just cold messages on LinkedIn?

  5. Will they ask for recommendation letter from my current boss? If she learns that I am applying for any position outside of academia I am dead.

Why consulting:

My goal is to stay in consulting for 2 – 3 years, learn about business and management as much as I can and then move to pharma/biotech industry or start-ups. Assignments in pharma/biotech industry would be perfect but are not essential.

Does it make sense to do it this way?

A bit more about my situation:

I’m doing molecular biology PhD (Switzerland) and I’m working in the wet lab, so I have no programming/hard analytical skills.

In terms of performance during the PhD, I think it’s more than good, with already couple of high impact publications and conferences and more to come. I’ve been told that I present very well. I already presented for 200 – 300 people and it was OK.

I don’t want to switch because my PhD didn’t work, I just burned out completely.

Skills I’m developing now:

I’m learning Python, so I should have some solid basis till the end of this year.

Language wise I have English, Slovak (native) and German (A2). I am pushing German hard to get it to B2 early next year.

Any experience outside of academia?

No, for the last 8 years I haven’t been doing anything else. However, I am quite interested in economy/business and I can understand basic concepts there. I’ve been reading Forbes/The Economist/WSJ for a long time already.

Where I want to apply:

I’m mostly interested in positions in Zurich as I hope for assignments connected with pharma industry. Otherwise I’m considering Germany (best Munich) or Austria (Vienna).

Sorry for the long post!

I would really appreciate any help and insight as I’m lost here.

submitted by /u/RandomUser_88
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