Consulting is one of the many career options for the nation’s brightest students. It is slowly becoming more popular with students as firms continue to invest more time in direct university recruitment. And what’s not to like about consulting! For starters, it considers any university student with a strong academic background regardless of course studied. Second, it boasts a competitive graduate salary with a heavy focus on nurturing you into a top tier consultant. Finally, it exposes you to a variety of industries where you may be unsure of what exactly you want to do later in life.
Nevertheless, it is important to do your due diligence before diving into any career. These benefits are only a tip of the iceberg of a career in consulting. This article explains how you can assess whether or not you want to embark on the consulting career journey. The consulting application process can be long and tiresome so, to endure this, you need to clearly know why you are putting yourself through this.
Stage 1: Thinking about your career/ what’s next/ post- university
Get a high-level understanding of what’s available to you as a career option.. For university students, you can do so by attending Career’s fairs, insight days or open days. Start searching for this as early as first year especially if you are on a 3 year course. It goes by very quickly and application cycle windows are short.
After your research, you should have a better understanding of what differs consulting to banking or law or any other career you are considering. This includes knowing why it may be a better fit for you. Look at what the skill requirements are for the things you are comparing. Think about which one excites you and makes you eager to know more
Other sources include webinars, information sessions or any related events. For those who enjoy youtube “day in the life” videos, you can search these up for consultants (and specifically in your country).
Our advice for students is don’t just follow your friends and what they are doing, do the work for yourself, everyone is different and will match to different career paths based on their interest and ambitions. On the flip side, your career is what you make of it. You can choose to hold off on consulting for now to begin as a doctor, for example, especially if you studied vocational subjects. Consulting is something that you can move into later in life.
Stage 2: Research/ Focus in on consulting industry and firms in this space
Use the web to find more specific information about the different offerings of consulting firms (management vs strategy vs operational etc). For example, MBB are more strategy focused where the big 4 are more implementation driven. There are other subtle differences so get to researching. Know what companies lead in these fields in your country. There are typically 10x more consulting firms than you think. Great sources for detailed information are consulting firms careers section on their websites.
However, do you know what’s just better than google or online research? Offline research! First of all, you can seek to speak to someone in the industry or company in person (or on zoom given the pandemic). Consulting firms do host events for interested candidates to find out more about the industry. Firms run their own variation of information sessions, insight days or informal coffee chats and these are easily found on the careers section of their websites.
Secondly, you can reach out to people who work in those firms on LinkedIn too. Cold message consultants with a common thread e.g. same previous uni/degree subject/ area of interest/recent starters – make sure your profile is up to date first though. You should have specific questions for them (that you may not get from a website or youtube video) and don’t just “connect” without a plan of action. It goes without saying that consultants are very busy people so don’t expect a response in a day or two, be patient and reach out to as many as possible for a higher chance of success.
Finally, Joining active consulting societies helps you tick all the above with minimal effort. These societies tend to have planned events where consultants drop in to represent their firm and you can use this to speak to them directly. Networking horizontally (amongst peers) is easiest done at society events. You meet like-minded people who are on a similar path as you (who may even become your case partner). Some may have more consulting knowledge and experience so you can leverage this network for your research.
The more effort you put into your research, the better prepared you will be when you go to apply to these firms through just knowing what they want/ what they are looking for in a candidate. However, MBB-101 has all this information compiled for you. See our articles for more.