Student story: Hasan, QConsult Commercial

hasanMy name is Hasan Hoque and I’m in my second year of university studying BSc Economics, Finance and Management at Queen Mary. I took part in the autumn round of the QConsult Commercial Programme where I worked as a consultant in a team of five on a live project for a business client. This opportunity is perfect for anyone interested in consultancy or those looking to build upon a variety of transferable professional skills. To apply for the next round of QConsult, click here.

You are initially required to complete an online application form which is a chance for you to showcase your interest in the programme, your skills and past experience. You don’t need to have experience in consulting; as long as you can communicate your passion and skills effectively you’re on track to making a great application!

Next is the assessment centre: the assessors are extremely friendly and want you to perform your best. You’re told how you’ll be assessed and what they’re looking for in successful candidates, so that whether you succeed or not, you’ll have valuable experience which will come in handy when applying to graduate roles. If you aren’t successful you’re encouraged to seek feedback and apply the next round. Once you’ve been accepted onto the programme you’ll be assigned a team and will attend a training session. This is so you are aware what is expected of you as a consultant representing Queen Mary and that you have the knowledge to work effectively to produce the best results for your client. It’s also an opportunity to meet your team members and be introduced to your team’s project.

You then attend your initial client meeting where you have the opportunity to visit the client’s office. You’ll go through the project brief with them and what they expect you to have achieved at the end of the project. My team prepared some ideas and questions beforehand to pose to our client to gain a better understanding of their aims and objectives. I found this extremely helpful as it ensured we were on the right track when we started working. Our client was very specific with their demands so it was essential we cleared any doubts. We then kept constant communication with them, updating them about our progress.

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QConsult case study: Mats Syversen

matsMy name is Mats Syversen, and I’m a student in my final year of a BEng degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Queen Mary. In October, I applied to take part in a programme called QConsult Commercial run by Careers & Enterprise at QMUL. This is a paid scheme where you, as a student, get an opportunity to work closely with working professionals, as a consultant, to solve realistic business challenges as a part of a team.

The process begins with an online application form, which you need to fill in explaining your motivation and interest in the scheme. If you’re accepted you will be invited to attend an assessment day, before you’re then, hopefully, accepted onto the scheme. If you are unsuccessful, you will still leave with a wealth of knowledge regarding how large enterprises conduct their candidate selection process, giving you the upper hand if you are thinking of applying for a job.

If you are successful, you will be split into project teams consisting of 5 people, with whom you will be solving the project brief together with. In my group I was assigned the role of Project Coordinator, which meant I would be working closely with the client, making sure the deadlines were met, and, most importantly, making sure all the team members were being included and heard.

No prior experience of consultancy is needed, as training will be given before the start of the project, which is why this project is suitable for anyone who’s interested in gaining relevant work experience as well as networking with professionals and other students. During the project, you will receive frequent feedback, advice and support from the Careers & Enterprise team, to make sure you are always on the right track.

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QConsult: Get experience working with a start-up

2324You don’t have to be harbouring ideas of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg in order to be interested in enterprise. Most graduates actually end up working for SME’s (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), which includes start-ups. And the best way to figure out whether working for a start-up may be the career path for you is to get some experience in that world. The QConsult Commercial programme allows you to do just that.
How does QConsult Commercial work?

Small businesses (mostly start-ups!) provide a team of students with a short project brief outlining the details of a particular business challenge they are facing. Teams then research and analyse information around their business challenge and present their recommendations back to the business. The business gets a chance to solve a problem they are facing and you have the opportunity to build your experience managing a client relationship, working in a diverse team and communicating complex ideas in a professional setting. Student teams are asked to visit their client’s offices at least 2-3 times during the programme and communicate with them regularly, granting students a taste of what it’s like to work in a start-up as well as to work as a professional consultant.

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Could you be a QConsultant?

Queen Mary’s award winning student consultancy programme is back! QConsult Commercial places QMUL undergraduates into mini consultancy projects in local businesses. Local organisations are able to solve a business challenge while providing students with a real-life opportunity to use their skills and develop their employability.

How does QConsult Commercial work?

  • Businesses provide a team of students with a short project brief outlining the details of a particular business challenge. Past QConsult Projects have involved researching and analysing information, looking into improvements around marketing and business development, product development, and reviewing policies and processes.
  • The student teams work on the project for a specified amount of time, after which they present their findings and recommendations to the business in the form of a presentation and written report.
  • While conducting their projects the students receive advice, training and support around project management and presentation skills from the QMUL Careers & Enterprise team.
  • Student consultants are asked to spend 20 hours in total on their consultancy projects and are paid London Living Wage (£9.40/hr) for their project work. This work can take place in the form of a 1 week intensive QConsult round (usually during summer or reading weeks) and a 5 week round (generally during term time).

What have past QConsultants said?

The QConsult scheme is the best thing I have done at university.” – Andre Denton Stewart

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QConsult initiative wins at Guardian University Awards 2016

Our QConsult supported by J.P. Morgan programme has won the Employability Initiative category at The Guardian University Awards 2016. It is the second time a project from QMUL Careers and Enterprise has won in this category, with the QProjects work experience scheme picking up the award in 2014.

QConsult gives bursary students the opportunity to gain client focused work experience while presenting an affordable option for businesses facing challenges during their developmental stage. In recent projects, students have worked on research and analysis, business and product development, and policy and process review. All businesses involved say they have used the students’ project outcomes in their work.

Anasta Feldano who participated in QConsult last year said this about her experience, “It has definitely increased my confidence, I always thought ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not equal to others’. Now, having done this project and receiving so much good feedback, I think ‘maybe I can do that too!’ Read more about here experience in a previous blog post here.

QConsult has placed 80 students with 16 businesses since March 2015.

To learn more about how you can get involved with QConsult contact Rachel Roberts at r.s.roberts@qmul.ac.uk

What is it like doing a QConsult supported by J.P.Morgan project?

Anasta Feldano recently completed her time on her QConsult supported by J.P.Morgan project. Here she tells us all about her experience.

Anasta_Feldano_Portrait

What organisation did you work with and what project did you do?

I worked with an East London film making agency, on a project about raising their profile and diversifying their customer base.

How did you find the programme?

It really gave me the confidence boost I needed. When I got onto QConsult [supported by J.P. Morgan] I was worried about how I would do it. But going through the project, from the Assessment Centre to the group work to the presentations and the skills sessions was just a whole series of confidence boosts. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.  It’s been a great experience all in all and has bridged the gap that I would have otherwise had on my CV.

What do you think you learnt from the programme?

I feel more comfortable with having to do research work, I never had to do it in a non-academic way before and now I have figured out how to do it and I know what research means in a professional environment. And, it has taught me how to do things like public speaking which I always thought I wouldn’t be good at.

Has it made a difference to how you think about your career?

It has definitely increased my confidence, I always thought ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not equal to others’. Now, having done this project and got so much good feedback, I think ‘maybe I can do that too!’ I felt encouraged and now I feel confident and entitled to go for other things which I wouldn’t have before.

This project helped me figure out two things. One is that maybe a heavily research based job with little or no client interaction isn’t for me. And the other is that I really enjoy public speaking and presenting and interacting with people. So this will steer the types of jobs I look for.

Do you think it has made a different to your employability?

Yes, I now have now secured a Graduate Role as a Tax analyst at one of the Big 4 firms.

I had to do a presentation as part of my final interview, having worked with my client and also JP Morgan, and gaining a mixture of both presenting formally and informally helped me. I think it enhanced my confidence, communication skills and [ability to] talk through points in a semi-formal manner.

As part of my manager level interview, I was asked to talk through another project that I was involved with beside my Micro-Tyco competition, and I talked through the Q-consult project which involved utilising team working, communication, presentation and research skills.

Has doing this project changed your understanding of what consultancy is?

I have a greater awareness of what consultancy would be like and I now know that it involves a lot of research rather than client facing.

Has being part of this programme made any difference to your professional networks?

Yes, I was able to practice my networking skills and would feel more confident to network in the future.

Would you recommend the programme to other students?

Definitely, people should apply for it, no matter what field of study they are doing as our team had such a mix of skills in it. I would encourage anyone to do it, it is just such a great work experience. It shows employers that you are well rounded, versatile and able to do more. It not only shows that you are active and enthusiastic about gaining skills but also that you have gained new skills and got better at the skills you have.

 

Getting to Know Us: Rachel Roberts

First question, can you tell the reader who you are?

I’m Rae Roberts (well actually Rachel but there are so many Rachels in our team just call me Rae!). I work as the Programme Manager on our QConsult supported by J.P. Morgan programme.Rae profile

 

And what departments/students do you specifically help?

QConsult supported by J.P. Morgan is specifically targeted towards students who hold a QMUL bursary. We can work with students from any school or year, so long as they hold a bursary they will be prioritised for a place on this programme. This is due to restrictions around our funding and programme objectives – it’s actually about making access to opportunities fairer!

How do you do this? What do you spend most of your time doing?

The programme places students who hold bursaries into teams of 5.  These student teams then work remotely and independently to conduct mini-consultancy projects for local businesses. The students get dedicated support from one of our Careers Consultants, get paid for their time and gain real life work experience. The businesses get ideas for solutions to their actual business challenges!

I spend most of my time overseeing all the different elements of the programme and making sure that everything is going along as it should be.  And checking that everyone involved is having the best possible experience and getting the most they can from the programme. This entails lots of emails, phone calls, meetings and writing reports with all the people involved, whether that’s students, my colleagues or J.P. Morgan (our funder).

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

Having to say no to students! Sometimes our application rounds are really competitive, and we always have more strong applications from students than places available. We try really hard to offer as many places as possible but we have to be realistic about the number of projects we can offer to make sure the students who do get places get all the support they need.

What do you enjoy the most?

Seeing the student teams rise to the occasion. Our programme offers really challenging projects where the students have to REALLY use their initiative, ACTUALLY take responsibility for themselves and GENUINELY deliver professional work that will make a different to the businesses they work with. It’s amazing to see how much the students can achieve when they are trusted and given this much opportunity to prove themselves.

What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success to date?

Being involved in this programme from the start, 6 months ago, and hearing from the 54 students we have placed so far how much they feel it will help them in terms of getting jobs.

What is the most common question you get asked by students?

How do I find out about the programme?  The answer is email us and, if you are a bursary holder, sign up to our mailing list.

And finally, tells us one thing we wouldn’t know about you.

I am currently somewhat obsessed with running – so if you see a small person with glasses dashing out of the Queens Building at 12.30 that might well be me!