Bain & Company internship: 6 Steps to Achieve it

Bain Internship Program is a perfect starting point for those who want to become a management consultant, in which applicants have the opportunity to expose themselves to business strategy and the consulting industry, including an offer to be a Bain official consultant.

However, at the same time, Bain is one of the three most prestigious consulting firms in the industry, and the passing ratio is only 1%. How to stand out and successfully get a Bain internship? In this article, I’ll show you the overall information about the Bain Internship and how to land an internship at this giant.

Bain Internship - Overview

There are two main tracks in the Bain Internships: undergrad internships (Association Consultant Internship) and MBA internships (Summer Associate). The income for interns at Bain is comparable to McKinsey and Bain: nearly $6,900/month for undergrad, and about $7,300/month for MBA.

Normally, the program duration at Bain lasts over 10 weeks during summer or even up to 12 months. However, the precise number depends on specific locations and positions. Bain internship’s work structure closely resembles the work of permanent consultants.

To get a Bain Internship, you need to prepare thoroughly through this six-step process:

Step 1: Build up skills and qualifications

Step 2: Build networks early on

Step 3: Write Resume and Cover Letter screening

Step 4: Pass the Bain Potential Test

Step 5: Pass the Bain Fit Interview

Step 6: Pass the Bain Case Interview


Bain Internship – Recruitment & Salary

Here is the summary of salary, application duration, deadline, and eligibility criteria for each Bain Internship. However, these are just the overview of the application timeline/scheme at Bain like, as details will be different at different locations and positions. I highly recommend that you should check all these again on the Bain website for precise information.

Salary Duration Application Deadline Eligibility Criteria
Associate Consultant Interns (ACI)
$6,900/month 10-12 weeks January
  • Undergrads from colleges, business schools
  • Outstanding academic achievement
Summer Associate
(SA) (MBA)
$7,300/month 10-12 weeks December
  • Currently enrolled in an advanced graduate degree like an MBA or PhD
  • Excellent academic records

Internships have two main routes

Similar to other Big 3 firms, Bain Internships are divided into two main tracks: Associate Consultant Internship (for undergrad) and Summer Associate (for MBA). Their interns can come from diverse backgrounds beyond the business category.

The titles of positions vary at different companies. For Bain, the Associate position is divided into two paths: first is Associate Consultant, then comes to the Senior Associate Consultant, before being promoted to Consultant position, quite different from the others. If you’re unfamiliar with these titles, check out this article I’ve written on the career path in consulting for a visual overview.

Bain Internship – Application process 

There are two main tracks to apply for the Bain Internship:

  • Campus interview: Bain usually conducts campus visits at their target schools from February to September every year. They also develop a dedicated page for each campus on their website, which provides detailed information about the deadlines, recruiting events, requirements, and even a Bain alumni network to support applicants. 
  • Online application: For candidates whose schools are not on the target list, you can apply via online application on the Bain portal.

At the undergrad level, the application deadlines are around September. At the MBA level, the deadlines will depend on the school you are attending. Generally, they are between November and December.

Nevertheless, it is advisable to confirm the exact deadlines. If you’re at Bain target school, check your school’s dedicated page to know the specific deadline, as well as utilize all supporting resources you have. If you’re at regular schools – your school doesn’t show up on the firm’s portal – contact the HR department of your target office to clarify the dates.

Bain Internship typically lasts over 10 weeks to 12 months

For both Undergrad and MBA candidates, an internship at Bain is over 10 weeks to 12 months, depending on role and location. The short period is usually held in the summer.

Bain Interns make $17,300 – $32,000 per internship

Summer Associate Interns (Undergrad) can make around $6,900/month, adding up to around $17,250 in total for a 10-week period. This compensation is extremely competitive, being just slightly under well-known tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, or Google. Compared to McKinsey, Bain undergraduate interns earn a bit more than McKinsey, which pays its intern around $6,700/month.

For Summer Consultant Interns (MBA), Bain pays them nearly $7,300/month, which makes up a total of $18,250 during 10 weeks, quite lower than other MBB firms.

8 highest-paying internships

Rank Employer Median Monthly pay Median 10-Week Pay
1 Facebook $8,000 $20,000
2 Amazon $7,725 $19,313
3 Salesforce $7,667 $19,168
4 Google $7,500 $18,750
5 Microsoft $7,250 $18,125
6 Uber $7,167 $17,918
7 Bloomberg LP $7,000 $17,500
8 Capital One $7,000 $17,500

Now you’ve got an overview of Bain internship basis. The next step is what you will do as a Bain Intern and how to practice to bring the best performance at the job. The deeper your understanding is, the better you can tailor your application.

If you make it to the case interview round, you can use these insights while solving the case study to show off your consulting traits. This undoubtedly will higher the chance for you to get an offer.


Bain Summer Associate Internship (Undergrad)

At the undergraduate level, successful candidates are often assigned to the main track of the Bain Internship program – the Consultant Associate Intern role.

Nature of the work: The work for Consultant Associate interns is very much the same as a full-time Associate Consultant. In general, the interns get involved in the “manual” work, while the Project Leader is the one who is in charge of the whole project.

In more detail, you will be assigned to an active case with a team of 3 to 5 other consultants, taking charge of a specific aspect of the project. In this job, you will interview clients’ customers, competitors, suppliers, and employers, building a fundamental knowledge base. Then, you will collect data, analyse them and execute the findings into meaningful insights. Finally, you present your ideas to the case team members as well as the client stakeholders. 

For a more in-depth viewpoint, watch the video below, or read this article to understand more about what work is done by an entry-level consultant.

Responsibility & report line: In a project, Associate interns are usually assigned to support an Associate with a big workstream. In rare circumstances, interns can lead a small workstream. For the first scenario, you will report directly to the person you are assisting. In the latter scenario, you will report directly to the Project Leader.


Bain Summer Consultant Internship (MBA)

At the MBA level, successful candidates are often assigned to the Consultant Intern role.

Nature of the work: The work structure at this position is what you will do as a full-time Bain Consultant. You will work directly with the case teams and clients to solve business problems and propose changes. Technically, the Summer Associate is already considered more experienced and senior than other interns, so they often get to lead or semi-lead a workstream.

Responsibility & report line: As a Consultant Intern, you will report directly to the Project Leader.


How to get a Bain Internship – 6-step guide

Step 1: Build up skills, qualifications, and experience

Here’s the cold hard truth – you need to be the “creme-de-la-creme” to even have the slightest chance at the top consulting firms, especially the MBB firms.

Apply only when you’re ready! Bain has a 2-year ban on failing candidates. That’s why it’s important to start learning and practicing as soon as possible and have the right prep strategy based on your background to maximize the chance to get your feet in Bain.

Start learning and practicing early

Consulting prep is ideally a long process. The basic knowledge and skills of consulting management require at least a year to master, and at least 2-3 months to prepare the resume screening, the tests, and case interviews.

Although I’ve had customers who passed the recruitment process with very little preparation, that’s an exceptional scenario. If you are running out of time, you might still have a chance – by quickly learning the “killer tips” offered in the Case Interview End-to-End Program. However, in general, it’s always good to start early.

To equip yourself with the most well-rounded skill set for Bain Internships, read up and practice on the following topics:

  • Management Consulting: Job, firms, industry, and the culture of Bain (in particular)
  • Consulting Math: math in the business context, mental math, and chart-reading
  • Tests: Bain Potential Test
  • Case Interviews: Interviewer-led and candidate-led case, tips and techniques
  • Fit Interviews: Stories to suggest your outstanding, consulting-fit qualities

Have the right strategy base on your background

Bain has its favorite recruiting grounds, and the firm even develops a portal for its target schools. This means if you’re from one of the target schools, congrats, your chances are already much higher than the people who aren’t. Furthermore, it is also easier to connect with the Bain alumni and access other available resources easily. 

On the other hand, if you’re from a normal school, you have to put extra effort into networking and practice. I’ve written an article on how to enter top consulting firms from non-target schools. Go check it out now.

Below is a list of top schools contributing significant percentages of consultants at Bain – according to a 2018 analysis of Wall Street Oasis users. This list, however, might not be comprehensive, so please check directly from the Bain website to know whether your school is targeted and maximize your resources, if available.

Percentage of Bain Consultants by Universities/Colleges

College/University Bain
Yale University 3%
Princeton University 3%
University of California Berkeley 8%
Northwestern University 1%
Stanford University 8%
The University of Texas at Austin 4%
Columbia University 3%
University of Notre Dame 3%
University of Cambridge 1%
Boston College 1%
Georgetown University 1%
University of Western Ontario 5%
University of Southern California 1%

Source: Wall Street Oasis

Step 2: Build network early on

Why is networking so important for consulting prep?

Networking is important because most consulting firms, including Bain, start with official referral systems to recruit the best candidates without expending too much effort. Candidates with a referral have higher chances of getting their CVs screened and landing interviews, hence higher chances to be offered jobs. If you can find a mentor – a current/former consultant at your target firm – along with the referral, he/she can provide you with invaluable insider advice.

When to start networking?

As early as possible – relationships take time to build. 

If you’re still in school, network a year before career events to be one step ahead of the competition, then try to get referrals. Referrals increase the chances of your CV being reviewed by recruiters in the first place.

Who to network with?

Anyone from any practice can refer you, so don’t worry too much about applying for one practice while being referred by people from other practices. 

What really matters is the seniority of your contacts. Often, one referral from a Partner is equivalent to multiple referrals from non-partners. So the bottom line is: if you can’t get a referral from a Partner, be sure many non-partners in that office are willing to vouch for you.

How to network for a Bain Internship?

Now that you know who best to network with, where can you find these people? There are four common ways to start networking. 

  • Networking through consulting clubs: The most effective way to network is to build connections with alumni at your school’s consulting clubs, who got into Bain. Connections made through this channel are easy to access and quite personal, giving you good chances of getting mentorship and referral. 
  • Networking through acquaintances: Start with the consultants you know, followed by anyone your colleagues, friends, and family can introduce. The biggest limitation is accessibility – you might not find any potential leads.
  • Networking through events: This method is most convenient for applicants from target schools. Consultants here are complete strangers, but they do expect applicants to approach them after the events, so you do have a higher chance than the next method.
  • Cold-emailing/Cold-calling: The least effective, but the most scalable method. You find them through LinkedIn or similar means, send emails to establish contact, and request for a meeting. Most of the time, you will be rejected, but if you play the cards right, you will get someone on your side.

The key ingredients to effective networking for consulting prep is good preparation and genuine engagements. These ingredients must be consistently maintained throughout your entire networking process, even from the first cold call or email.

After networking the next step is to prepare for all the parts of the consulting recruitment process.

Step 3: Write a resume and cover letter screening

Read the full guides here: Consulting Resume / Consulting Cover Letter

The first step in the consulting recruitment process is resume screening, and even this early, your resume and cover letter must be “consulting!”. In both of these papers, explicitly but objectively show off your consulting attributes: leadership, achieving, and problem-solving.

The content

In both of these papers, your stories must highlight the three attributes – either about leading and influencing people, doing analytical work, achieving the extraordinary, or any combination.

You must be result-oriented. Instead of reciting the company’s job descriptions like in other resumes, you need to tell the screener the quantifiable results of your work and show him/her that you are the best.

Specific statements such as “Set the new speed record on flipping burgers, surpassed the previous record by 50%”, are more impressive and more trustworthy – even outside the consulting industry.

The presentation

Regarding the format, there is no other option but black-and-white. Keep it absolutely formal and professional. Fancy-looking resumes and cover letters are for creative jobs, not the conservative consulting industry. The recruiters will not even look at such resumes.

Regarding the structure, every bullet, and every part of the resume must be the same. The language must be formal. Communication must be top-down, both in resumes and cover letters.

Step 4: Pass the Bain Online Test

Read the full guide here: Bain Online Test Ultimate Guide

What is the Bain Online Test?

The Bain Online Test is a psychometric test used by Bain & Company to assess a candidate’s numerical, verbal, and logical thinking abilities. The test is computer-based, just like how it’s named – “Bain Online Test”, including an aptitude test, personality test, analytical test, business case test, and one-way interview. 

Bain Online Test is not a uniform test. The test designer, format, and specific question types all vary from place to place. Additionally, very little official information is disclosed, making it difficult to prepare with precision as with the PST. Fortunately, most tests at different Bain offices are similar in structure and underlying principles. That means you can indeed prepare for those tests with the same general approach.

How to prepare for the Bain Online Test?

There are seven steps on how you should prepare for Bain Online Test:

Step 1: Verify test format
Do prior research, use connections, and contact the target office to confirm the test format and rules.

Step 2: Practice mental math and numerical reasoning
Focus on consulting/business-context math, and mental calculations. Calculators are prohibited.

Step 3: Practice fast reading and verbal reasoning
30-90 seconds for each question. Read fast. Use “Trackers and Pacers” and “Perceptual Expansion” techniques to excel your reading speed.

Step 4: Improve business knowledge
The best sources for regular reading include major business magazines such as Forbes or Business Insider, and consulting publication listings such as McKinsey Insights, Bain Reading List, or Bain Publications. Or check out the Starter Guide section in my Case Interview 101 article. Don’t merely read – ask “why” and “so what” to dig deeper into the insights.

Step 5: Practice case tests / GMAT
To ace the test, you need math, reading, some reasoning skills, and some business knowledge to solve effectively. Therefore, remember to take a look at all of the above stages before getting into tests.

Step 6: Perform full mock tests
Bain offers no or very few mock tests, so you’ll need to piece together something similar to what you’ll see on the actual test. I’ll put the separate mock tests you can use and a few examples from Bain here. I recommend you tailor your mock test harder, and you should be done in a shorter time. Hard practice, easy game.

Step 7: Review, adapt, and overcome
Review your mock test results, develop your personal test strategy, look for your weak points, come back to the previous steps, and focus your training efforts accordingly. Rinse and repeat.

Step 5: Pass the Bain fit interview

Read the full guide here: Bain Fit Interview

What do they ask in the Bain fit interview?

Typically, questions in Bain Fit Interview fall into four categories:

  • Why Bain? Why you are interested in Bain/consulting
  • Your hobbies and interests
  • Your previous job (if you have one)
  • Examples of leadership/achieving mentality/problem-solving skills

This interview often lasts 10-15 minutes, and a successful candidate will go through 4-6 of them. During this, the interview tries to assess:

  • Whether you are “fit” with the organization – personality, motivation, etc.
  • Whether you possess sufficient personal experience (i.e leading, handling conflicts, coping with work pressure, etc.) for the consulting world

How to prepare for the Bain fit interview?

The questions in the fit interview usually require you to tell a story about “that one time in your life” to illustrate your character and values. So the best way to ace them is to prepare 3-5 well-rounded, detailed stories. You should also view them from every possible angle, showing off either a consulting trait or your values.

Sometimes, you have to use the same story to answer several question types from different angles. This means that 3-5 well-prepared stories are good to go. Such approaches can give you the flexibility to answer any questions, even unexpected ones.

So how can you prepare such stories? Spend your efforts on three layers of a story – the content basethe plot, and the style.

Step 6: Pass the Bain case interview

Read the full guide here: Bain Case Interview

Besides the fit interview, candidates must also pass the case interview before they officially become interns/staff at Bain. 

What are case interviews? 

Case interviews are job interviews where the candidate is asked to solve a business case or problem. At Bain, case interviews often last 30-45 minutes each. Candidates can expect 4-6 interviews during a span of 4-8 weeks. These interviews are likely done by senior Partners or Directors.

What are Bain case interviews like?

Bain case interviews are often candidate-led. At the most extreme of this format, the candidate “leads” the problem-solving process breaking down the problem through an “issue tree” and hypothesizing for the root causes. The interviewer assists the candidate by supplying data to test their hypotheses.

Some Bain offices also use written interview cases. A written case interview is a case interview where you receive the questions and data, as well as deliver your recommendations in written forms of communication. Bain Written Case is normally 20-to-30-slide long, one-hour prep and 40-minute interview, with handwritten form.

How to prepare for Bain case interviews?

Whether you have a written case or a candidate-led interview, they both resemble closely real consulting work. Therefore, you need to approach these cases in the same way real consultants approach their projects. I recommend you practice the following topics:

#1: Familiarize with candidate-led case examples

Get used to the flow of a candidate-led case interview by watching as many examples as possible. You can find several samples cases provided by Bain here

Here at MConsultingPrep, we also have a few candidate-led case examples in our Case Interview E2E Secret Program, complete with detailed feedback on every aspect from content to presentation, all in video format.

#2: Practice consulting math

Consultants work with lots of data. There is almost no time to take out a calculator in the middle of the work, not to mention that it only makes a bad impression to the client. It is why mental math skills are important. Here are some tips to practice consulting math:

  • Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
  • Flatten the Learning Curve: At the start, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error really help; once you are confident, discard the paper and narrow down the margin.
  • Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice this may seem hard at first, but once you’ve overcome the inertia, you can literally feel the improvement.

#4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks

As an intern at Bain, you will need to tackle real business problems; hence, knowing the fundamental concepts of consulting problem-solving is crucial. In the candidate-led case interview, particularly, make sure to master the use of hypotheses, issue trees, and MECE principle – they are the backbone of this interview kind.

You should also familiarize yourself with some common frameworks. Be careful though, frameworks need a lot of customizations to fit with real cases, and to customize effectively you need the fundamental knowledge. In the beginning, it will be tempting to focus on the frameworks – if you make this common mistake, be prepared for some very unpleasant surprises in the interview. 

I’ve written an article on Case Interview Frameworks, with tips and techniques in case interviews, as well as some myth-busting on common misconceptions about frameworks. Make sure to spend some time reading it.

#5: Perform mock interviews

The best way to train on something is to do it.

Well, you CAN’T simply come to Bain and ask them for a case interview, but you CAN find a partner to conduct mock interviews for you. If you can find yourself a former consultant to do it, great! They’ve been through countless case interviews, both mock and real, so they can give you valuable feedback.

Make the best of every mock interview you do by recording and listening to them afterward. You’ll realize a lot of mistakes and areas you can improve.

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