Is it possible for an Indian to pursue consulting in Germany/France?

I'm an Indian who has been living in the US for a while and currently attend a T20 for undergraduate. It seems that immigrating to the US is extremely hard given the H1B lottery system and the wait after it. As a gay guy, immigration to a friendly nation is one of my goals and non-marriage based immigration to the US seems quite difficult for an Indian.

Is it worth it to learn German/French and do graduate school in Germany/France and aim for a job in the respective country? I already speak a little French (had an AP score of 4 two years ago), but am willing to learn German since the market is bigger and more lucrative. Or is it better to stick with the US? I can also go to other countries like UK or Canada but both those markets are much smaller and competitive compared to the US, and Australia doesn't seem to recruit international students. I'm open to other friendly countries and careers in finance or data science, product also.

Not in consulting but a lot of my friends are in MBB. You will struggle in France as they hire from their best schools and normally just the white kids with heritage and connections. Germany I'm not sure. London is certainly a lot more open and I personally know over 10 Indians that work in MBBs here. Bar is still quite high but it's possible at least. And for the record all the people I know did and MBA. Not sure what is is like to recruit otherwise. 

what about t2 consulting? i've heard that's much easier in europe and pay is decent.

i'll be doing a masters in finance/management or something related after graduation. i could do that in us or europe. so i'll be recruiting from those programs.

i've looked into london but i don't know if it's as easy to get into a uk target school since they're much stricter on gpa. and wages aren't as good either given how expensive london is. although if i apply to european schools, i'll most likely apply to some in the uk also.

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Here someone from Berlin, Germany.

I'm currently recruiting for t3 so I think I know enough (also about MBB and t2) to help you out. So I try to break down the most important information from what I've heard. (Please excuse my bad English since I'm German).

  1. You should be 100% sure if you want to work in Germany. I would say Germany has a lot of benefits over the us and other countries (really safe, everyone complains about rent but it's a joke to rent in munich or Berlin compared to us, better social system, no/not as much need for target etc.) but I think in the end it comes down If you like Germany the culture the people and so on.
  1. I agree with the point that in France it is much more required to attend a really good school. But regardless what you chose you should do your masters degree in the country to learn the language etc. Also most consultancies like to hire you after Master not undergrad.
  1. In Germany most targets and even non-targets offer Master in Management/Finance in English so you can wait to really learn German until you are here. Also like everyone in big cities speaks english so you will be fine.
  1. Consider t3. The difference in comp isn't that big at the start. MBB maybe 80-90k all in and t2 little bit lower and even t3 can go up to 75k all in and I think that is more than enough to live a nice life even in a big city. Later you can easy lateral to t2 or even MBB.
  1. I don't know if it is particularly easier to break in in the us Oder Germany. But if I had to guess I would say yes. Recruiting especially at t2 and t3 is much less structured. At the t3 I interview there is no real case and only one interview instead of like a big process. Also if you compare the hours from what I've heard regardless if we're talking about IB or Consulting the most companies are not slaving you near dead like in the us. My theory is that the culture in the us is different because you have a different history regarding social safety and so on.
  1. I think you made the right assumption regarding the right country in europe. UK is very expensive to study and you earn significantly less when comparing the cost of living and rent to germany. I don't know much about France but I would say Paris is also much more expensive Thant munich or berlin and less people in france speak english. But maybe you find the culture more appealing that's subjective.

What I don't know since I live in Germany how difficult it is to get a visa and so on so that's maybe the most important thing. I hope I could help. Don't hesitate and ask if you have any further questions. (Also don't get confused by risk controller. I'm lateraling from a bank to financial services consulting.)

Thanks for the detailed reply. Definitely answered a lot of my questions.

Lifestyle in Germany seems just as good as US if not better so I am not really against moving to Germany. Good weather, higher salaries compared to most of europe, easy travel access, and easy to immigrate to.

I am aware a lot of MiM/MSF are in english. But since a lot of them are <= 2 years, I am not sure if that's enough to be at an advanced skill level in speaking German. What level of German is usually expected from foreigners applying to consulting jobs in Germany?

Also, just out of curiosity, how easy is it to break into T2/T3 consulting from one of the high ranked public universities in Germany? Private schools like WHU seem much more expensive.

I would say the the majority of master Programms irrelevant if public or private last 2 years. I actually don't know how well you could learn German in 2 years. I would say this depends on your willingness to learn and if your gifted or not. If you constantly go out meet new people and take courses that most universities offer than you will speak well enough if not things can be tricky especially if you consider that German is seen as a quite complex language to learn.

I think for most roles especially in big firms you need solid German language skills but I would bet that they are vacancies that only require English at all since in big firms the working language is English and your coworkers are not only Germans.

Regarding your question to t2/t3 and public universities. Firstewall t2 is in Germany nearly t1 so the difference to t3 is much bigger. I come from a public school with relativ okay grades (special Programm so a little different but that is another story) and I still can do t3 but for t2 I would say very good grades and engagement and also internships are required (business background not sciences if you do that in undergrad whole different story). But you're from the us/India so you fit in the countless diversity Programms so you should have a little advantage with that and also through your international experience you have what many t2 firms want and for example I don't have.

To conclude t3=easy t2/MBB = nearly same profiles and tends to be difficult but doable. (And big 4 also easy and seen lateraling people even from big 4 tas to Bain).

Regarding the visa issue, you're in for a ride.

I recently tried to help some friends of friends, who studied in Paris and Maastricht, who seek to move to Germany.

In general, Germany has a policy whereby firms have fill out a monster of document and explain, why they're hiring a foreigner over a local, even if it makes sense, position hasn't been filled for some time etc.

Most firms only offer visas for higher positions but not necessarily for entry (the one from Paris was top undergrad in China, decent in Paris for graduate, now struggling). In her specific case, she already has a visa for France (which according to her was quite easy to obtain, same for Netherlands). However, as she's trying to move over here, she gets told, she'll have to drop her French visa and take a German search visa. This allows you a 1 year stay to find a stable job (as far as I'm aware). If she fails, she's screwed, if she succeeds, bureaucracy struggle goes on.

Next, one T2 firm told her, the visa would cost them 10-12k EUR, thereby they'd deduct it from her salary, which depending on the city can suck (as someone mentioned Berlin / Munich have ridiculous rents for German standard), for other cities it can be okay, especially since you get your foot into the door and can later on switch.

Ironically, it costs HR on average 10-25k EUR on average to fill a spot (would have to look up report for exact number). Other firms are often hesitant due to language barrier.

The one from Maastricht is focussing on supply chain, which is in great demand. Benefit of being considered diversity, she targets the Big 4, T2/3 consulting and public ones, as she has the best experience with these by far for now. Same issue with language barrier though as they seem to emphasise it a lot for most roles here (she's on B1 so they're not too worried).

In Frankfurt, especially finance, firms seem to be a bit more laid back from what I've seen. Else target start ups. They could either try to hire directly or offer you a remote probation and then visa after (you could try to negotiate that kind of deal, worked for another one).

Overall, it's an uphill battle vs bureaucracy as they're slow af and barely digitalised, so prepare for the worst.

PS: there's a large Indian firm, focussed on marketing, which are currently building their German ops. Last time I spoke to one of them for other reasons, one mentioned they're currently 5 people, head is an Indian as well. Maybe via networking it will work. At least for the others networking provided most success so far.

Best of luck.

Edit: there are many good public ones, who'll be fine for you here (WHU good for entrepreneurs, FSFM for finance, EBS ???), public ones like LMU/TU, RWTH, Cologne, Leipzig, HHL etc also have often times solid alumni networks (not like the US but you can check it out via LinkedIn to see for yourself).

Thanks for the detailed response.

I've heard about German bureaucracy. To be honest, it doesn't seem much worse compared to the US. Most firms in US don't offer OPT/CPT sponsorship for international students at analyst level either, and once sponsored it's not easy to land H1-B. And after the H1-B, it seems to take 10+ years to get permanent residency based on job visa in the US, whereas it seems much faster in Germany (like 4 years). So it doesn't seem horrible.

And I do see lots of people from public schools at consulting firms in Germany on LinkedIn. So to me I am unsure if it justifies the vast difference in price to go to a private school.

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