Skip to main content
19 answers
26
Asked 1074 views

How did you start your career in consulting and what are some things that made you stand out in the application pool?

I just started researching about the consulting industry and I am going to graduate with a BA in psychology this fall. I am interested in entering the consulting scene and want to know ways that I can be more appealing to employers.

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

26

19 answers


5
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Shaye’s Answer

I would first list out the consulting firms and practices you're targeting, and based on that list start building your network by going to career fairs, finding professionals on LinkedIn, Fishbowl, etc. to get someone to introduce you to their firm and hopefully get a referral. I started out in an engineering consulting firm after university since I had an engineering degree. So you can do some research to see if there are consulting roles that can tie to a psychology degree. Good starting point is review the classes you're taking and see if there is a market for the skill. For me after a few years of experience in the industry I got my Masters in Business Administration and returned back to consulting. So there is that route for higher education as well.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Shaye! Lizbeth
5
3
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Sean’s Answer

I would echo the sentiment from the other folks around using resources at your university, figuring out which firms might be right for you and taking business classes where appropriate. I have worked at two large management consulting firms, and there are very different paths you can take to get in and also once you are hired. I work with plenty of folks that came out of school with a Psychology degree and are very successful in management consulting. A few things I would recommend as you start to determine your path forward:

1. Determine if you want to do more general management consulting (e.g. take a random walk on different types of projects) or if you have a specific areas you want to focus on (e.g. healthcare consulting, data science consulting, etc.)

2. Determine the firms in the areas you want to focus on and network with people at those firms (use your university or LinkedIn to help) - Each firm will have different structures and areas of expertise, so it's good to have a sense of what you are looking for when you network with people as they can guide you on what to look for at that particular firm.

3. Practice for interviews! Most interviews will include a case interview and some personal interviews. Spend time practicing the cases - especially the math and analytical components (those are some of the key things firms will look for - analytical and leadership skills)

Best of luck!
3
2
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Luc’s Answer

There are several different paths that can be taken to get into consulting.

From what I have seen, the larger firms are the ones that bring in new graduates. However, generally those graduates have degrees in more technical or business-related subjects. When a firm I worked for was looking to do internships for folks new to the job market, we were only looking at MBA candidates. So, if you're looking at graduating soon with a degree in psychology, it is probably worth reaching out to the larger firms - Deloitte or Accenture are good examples - and seeing what you might do to qualify. There is usually significant demand for employees in the industry, so I would expect that you should be able to get some good information from them.

For me, I had a degree in psychology as well (I graduated in the 1990s). Over the years, I worked in several different fields, and then went to get my MBA in the mid 2000s. After that, I spent some time in telecommunications, until I joined a consulting firm about 8 years ago. One of the things that I have found that I love about consulting is the way that I can pull from the skills I developed over the years and help my clients now.

Consulting can be a very rewarding career. Best of luck to you!
2
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Matt’s Answer

When I was first interviewing with consulting firms, I received some great advice from the interviewers in information sessions prior to the actual interview.

The best advice they gave me to stand out from other applicants is "How do you create value". I reflected on past internships, work experience and even school projects to build a case on how I created value, and the impact it left. Being able to explain the time saved, increased efficiency of business processes, or any other impact based on the value you created by developing a solution to a problem helps build a case for you as a potential new hire.

Other general advice about "standing out to an employer" is networking. Many companies will hold information sessions, resume reviews and other general events on campus. As I started my interview process, I made sure to attend as many of those events as my schedule allowed. This gave me the opportunity to get to know many of the recruiters in a one on one situation and express my interest in pursing a career at the company they represented. It also gave me an opportunity to learn more about the opportunities they offered and how I could grow my career.

As a final note, there are also many other resources I used to research companies I was interested in.
- Handshake is a great website many universities offer that allow students to see company events on campus as well as job postings.
- Glassdoor is another great website that offers information from users such as interview experiences and on the job experiences
- Fishbowl is an app that provides a lot of insight into consulting businesses and allows you to ask questions anonymously and network as well.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Su’s Answer

I started my consulting career straight from college, after doing an internship I joined an accounting firm. I did an internship and during the internship asked to shadow different groups / teams so I could learn and understand how different teams and projects worked.

One of the aspects that made interns stand up in their class was being coachable, having great communication skills and engaged on the work / showing willingness to learn and succeed. Companies definitely do not expect you to be a subject matter expert as someone who just graduated from school.

Su recommends the following next steps:

I would recommend doing different internships in different areas and company types to assess what industry you enjoy and develop some of the skills I mentioned above.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Greg’s Answer

Great question! There are consulting opportunities in many different subject areas and they require you to be an expert on that topic/subject. In my case I was an expert at a specific software application and the company that I started my consulting career with were specialists in the same area. The personal quality that helped me stand out, besides my technology background, were my soft skills. I'd say soft skills are a very close second in terms of getting hired, next to networking as previous folks have mentioned.

Good luck!
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Irasema Donají’s Answer

I started my consulting career when I joined an accounting firm, in the tax/financial area. I had experience in a totally different industry, but I was able to learn quickly and after 4-6 months and realized I really enjoyed it.
The dynamics of the job and being exposed to different industries and topics made me like my job, even though it gets very busy at times. I think my bachelor in International Business also helped me integrate easier. I then developed my own work style and client relationships. I have been with the same firm in a different country for almost 9 years.
I believe there is a group for HR advisory, perhaps you could see some psychology applications in that area.
Good luck!
Good luck!
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

david’s Answer

Good question. From my experience, there was a long period of several months, locating potential clients and positioning advertising they would see. My approach was explicitly to specific individuals, and not to general mailing addresses. Prior to that, I did research to identify what similar services were being marketed in the area to ensure that my offering would be unique. Another approach would have been to join a consulting organization and work as an employee of that organization for a few years to build up experience, but for me, I had already developed the experience. Coming out of college fresh, I encourage joining a major consulting firm, which may require that you relocate to a large city, if not already there. I do encourage that you take some courses that are substantive to corporate issues. Psychology is good, but you will benefit by having some courses in business topics. Good luck.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Amir
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

David’s Answer

Use the available resources at your university. There should be career fairs hosted by your university where consulting companies provide more information on the industry and what they do. Network with them and figure out which field within consulting you are truly interested in. I was able to get an offer before I graduated because I went through the university's recruiting program, where employers were looking for new graduates. The entire process of from learning about the position, to submitting to the application / resume, to interviewing was done on campus (except the final interview, that was done in the office). Hope this helps. Good Luck!
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Ryan’s Answer

Hey Amir,

I see two approaches. One is the traditional approach and participating in internships, volunteer work, or even starting your own small consulting project. Additionally, consider taking courses or workshops in business strategy, project management, and data analysis to build your skills.

Networking is also crucial in the consulting industry. Attend industry events and join professional associations to meet people who work in consulting. Consider reaching out to alumni from your school who work in consulting and ask for informational interviews.

Then tailor your resume and cover letter to the consulting industry. Highlight any experience or skills that show your ability to solve complex problems, work on teams, and communicate effectively. Be sure to also demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and the company you are applying to.

The other approach to stand out would be to come up with a solution for one of the consulting firms' clients.

Try this:
1. Research the industry or field you are interested in: Look at news articles, industry reports, and social media to get a better understanding of the challenges that businesses are facing in your chosen industry.
2. Network: Connect with professionals in the field, attend industry conferences and events, and join relevant online forums or groups to learn about the problems that are affecting the industry and the types of solutions that are needed.
3. Conduct interviews: Reach out to individuals who are facing problems in the industry and conduct interviews to learn more about their experiences and the challenges they are facing.
4. Brainstorm: Take the information you have gathered and brainstorm potential solutions. Think creatively and come up with unique ideas that could solve the problem.
5. Validate your ideas: Once you have some potential solutions, test them out by speaking with industry experts or conducting a small pilot project to see if your idea could be a viable solution.

Remember that finding a problem to solve is just the first step. You also need to develop a plan to address the problem, create a proposal, and market your solution effectively.
1
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

John’s Answer

In my opinion, you will need a decent resume to get in the door (GPA>3, some extracurricular involvement, etc.), but that is not what anyone is really looking at.

The biggest thing interviewers will be looking for is communication skills. As consultants, we are often dropped into uncomfortable situations where you need to quickly communicate with clients and understand unfamiliar information. Being able to enter these interviews, hold a conversation, and communicate who you are effectively will be key to being hired as a consultant. You can build these skills by talking to people in professional situations, try going to a career fair!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Scott’s Answer

Hello,

I gave it a shot at applying for consulting roles while in college (University of Michigan, BBA in Economics), but didn't quite make it. So, I spent my initial two years at a moderately-sized e-commerce firm, exploring both finance and operations positions. After gaining a couple of years of valuable experience as a finance/operations analyst, I decided to apply once more to various consulting firms and discovered the perfect fit.

I realized that by accumulating hands-on work experience, mastering Excel, and developing a solid understanding of the business world, I had placed myself in an ideal position to transition into a consulting role. Keep striving, and you'll find your path too!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Bailey’s Answer

Consulting is a great place to start your career! Below are a few ways to find out more about the field:
1) Networking is key in the business world. By networking with others in the career field, you will be able to ask questions to those who are already in the field. LinkedIn is a great resource to reach out to individuals across various career levels. Put yourself out there and speak about what matters to you in a career. Developing new relationships helps you foster newfound confidence in your professional capabilities and opportunities.
2) Participate in internships throughout college. An internship is important because it can present you with new skills and opportunities that you may not receive otherwise. You can gain technical knowledge within the industry of their choice by working directly with professionals in that field.
Internships allow you to apply practical knowledge you may have learned from a classroom setting while you develop important soft skills, such as time management, organization, adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Haadi’s Answer

I think the 2 most important parts of getting into consulting are forming relationships, and mastering the case interview.

1) Network: List out several employees of each consulting firm you're interested in (use your school's alumni network for people who have gone into consulting), and linkedin / email them a short, succinct message asking to chat about their career and consulting. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself, form as meaningful of a connection as possible (pick people who might have a similar degree as you, or were part of the same student organizations, etc). You might not get responses from everyone, so cast your net wide and take full advantage of the people that do reply!

2) Case: Arguably, the most important part of the interview process is acing the case interview. Practice with friends, and any consulting connections you might make. The important thing here is not be too formulaic in your responses and strategies, and try and bring in your own experience or original thoughts to your answer, to stand out as much as you can!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Sarah’s Answer

For what it's worth, I had an unconventional path to my current consulting career. I used to work in journalism, and I did that for about 5 years before realizing I wanted to pursue a more stable career. As such, I went back to school to get my MBA because I knew that degree would give me an array of business skills and career opportunities. I went to nearly every career fair my school offered and landed myself a consulting job with a public accounting firm. I think the biggest focus areas to help set you apart are strong communication, networking skills, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking, as those will be essential components of your consulting job. Of course, a strong GPA and extra-curricular involvement goes a long way, too. Your degree in psychology will serve you well, as you can bring that insight into how people think and behave to your future consulting role. I would guess that's not a highly common degree for a consultant, but I see it as a strength because you can bring something different to the table.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Jerel’s Answer

Hi Amir! That's a great question. I started my career in consulting a couple years after completing my undergraduate degree and working in industry.

In terms of standing out in the application pool, I believe it's essential to showcase your skills and experiences that are relevant to consulting. Consulting firms are looking for candidates who are strong in problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and leadership. You can demonstrate these skills through internships, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or academic projects. Try to get involved in opportunities that allow you to work on real-world problems, present solutions to a group, or collaborate with others.

Another way to increase your appeal to employers is to network and build relationships with people in the consulting industry. Attend career fairs, industry events, and informational interviews to learn more about the industry and connect with professionals. You can also reach out to alumni from your school who are working in consulting to ask for advice or mentorship.

Lastly, don't forget to tailor your resume and cover letter to the consulting industry. Research the firms you're applying to, understand their values and services, and align your experiences and skills with their needs. Highlight any experiences you have that show that you're a good fit for the firm.

I hope this helps you in your journey to enter the consulting scene. Best of luck!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer