Lydia Hesketh, Inside Careers
Considering a career as a management consultant? Or are you already set on the sector and determined to achieve a graduate job in a top consultancy firm? There are many reasons why consultancy is a popular career choice: the salaries are some of the highest around, the opportunity to travel is vast and the diversity of work stretches across many sectors and industries.
But what exactly do management consultants do? A management consultant provides external advice for organisations that require specialist expertise or an objective outside perspective on their business. Consultancy usually involves the identification and assessment of a problem or the analysis of a specific area of an organisation, the reporting of findings and the formulation of recommendations for improvement. In essence, a consultant’s job is to advise a company on improvements that could be made to its business.
Before you start planning your path to a consultancy career it’s vital you understand the basic requirements and traits consultants hold.
In terms of educational requirements, you must have a strong academic background, educated to degree level with a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent at a top university. The majority of firms now accept a wide range of degree subjects, with some strategy consultants looking particularly favourably on degrees with a numerical focus.
Soft skills are also highly sought after by employers, such as leadership and interpersonal skills as well as an entrepreneurial mind-set and intellectual curiosity.
If you are decided on a consultancy career, read on to find out what you need to do at each step of your journey.
First year is all about exploring the profession; discovering if consultancy suits your skills and passions, as well as what kind of consultancy firms interest you. Some companies offer work experience to first years in the form of insight days or weeks. Look out for these placements opening in December and closing January to February.
If you’re unable to get onto an insight programme, joining a society or gaining part-time work is also a worthwhile experience that employers will look favourably upon.
During your penultimate year you are eligible to apply to internships, but beware; applications can open as early as August and be filled by December. Nearing the end of your first year, start to seriously consider if consultancy is your chosen career and if this is the case, research the type of consultants and companies you would like an internship with. Most top consultancy firms offer internships, from BCG to PwC as do smaller firms such as Credo and CIL Management Consultants.
Internships are a great opportunity to learn more about the profession as well as offering a wide variety of responsibilities, ranging from analysing data to client facing tasks. Now more than ever before, completing an internship can significantly increase your chance of landing a graduate job; 33% of graduate positions in the consultancy sector are expected to be filled by graduates who have previously worked for the employer. The process of applying for internships can be as rigorous as applying for graduate jobs, so spend time on perfecting your applications.
Remember to keep on track of all your university work to achieve that vital 2:1!
The time has come for you to apply to consultancy graduate jobs. Like internships, many of these schemes open in early September and can close as soon as October. Your skills gained from previous work experience as well as involvement at university over the past few years will help your applications stand out from the crowd. Many students make the mistake of applying speculatively to a huge number of jobs; the most effective method is to apply to a smaller amount of jobs, spending time on each application and catering your CV and cover letter to the particularly company.
If you struggle to secure a consultancy graduate job by spring, there are a number of things you can do:
- Keep an eye out for roles with rolling deadlines but remember; rolling deadlines do not mean the role will stay open forever. As soon as a suitable candidate is found, the job will close.
- If you are applying for jobs located in London, why not try other consultancy firms across the UK? London offices fill up the fastest and many regional areas are now home to distinguished consultancy firms.
- If you are struggling to get any interviews, the QMUL Careers & Enterprise Centre will be able to give feedback on your application, CV and cover letter. You can still make use of these services for 2 years after you graduate.
As long as you are passionate and driven, securing a management consultancy graduate job is achievable. Keep your career goals and plan in mind and enjoy your journey to your dream management consultancy job!
Working in partnership with leading professional bodies, Inside Careers publish a range of graduate career guides, on finance and consultancy. Our website also provides students with a one stop shop to access the latest graduate jobs, internships, placements and insights. Visit http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/ for more information.