Want to work at Bain or McKinsey? Learn this programming language

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Want to work at Bain or McKinsey? Learn this programming language

Getting your foot in the door at one of the top consulting firms is no easy task. At McKinsey, for example, more than 750k people apply in given year. Fewer than 1% are accepted. That trumps the lowest acceptance rate at top investment banks like Goldman Sachs (4%) by a wide margin. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Learn how to program with R and target McKinsey or Bain’s growing analytics teams.

Like banks and hedge funds, consulting firms are on the hunt for data engineers and data scientists who can design algorithms and build complex models. Bain and McKinsey each have dedicated analytics teams that work alongside their consultants to analyze huge data sets to help drive business decisions for clients. Both firms are hungry for junior and senior-level engineers to work in their analytics departments. But the chances are good you’ll need to be able to program using R.

In the U.S., Bain is looking for advanced analytics specialists in Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. You’ll need “strong experience with R” and a working history with SQL, plus a post-graduate degree in a quantitative discipline like math, statistics or engineering, according to a new job posting.

New roles within McKinsey's People Analytics and Measurement (PAM) team tell a similar story. “Proficiency in SQL and R [is] critical, experience in other languages such as Python a bonus,” reads one post for a business intelligence analyst and developer within the PAM group. McKinsey says it has 22 analytics hub locations around the world, including in New York and Boston. It currently has 43 openings spread across its analytics teams, many of which has R as a priority.

It should come as no surprise then that four of the top five advertisers of R jobs are consulting firms. PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG – all of which have bigger footprints than Bain and McKinsey. Banks, meanwhile, tend to target applicants with Java and Python experience. Some engineers at financial firms are also forced to become experts in the company’s proprietary programming language – something that won’t happen in consulting. Just know that data scientists and engineers at consulting firms will need to leave their desks, whether you like it or not. Travel is part of the job, though engineers are home more than traditional consultants.

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