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What education and experience path leads to consulting?

To #consultants : how did you get to where you are? After you are successful in a field, do you become a consultant to help others? Do you take a second job? #consulting #management-consulting


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Tasha’s Answer

Truly any background can bring you to consulting...I work with people of all backgrounds, of all majors. What brings people to consulting is the ability to kickoff ones career via a breadth of experiences. The skills learned from consulting can be applied anywhere. Typically speaking, however, people of business / finance / marketing backgrounds typically end up in consulting.


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Veena’s Answer

There's no one path in terms of education and professional experience that leads to management consulting. For example, I studied International Relations, French, and International Economics in my undergraduate and graduate studies and began a career in international development and microfinance. Later in my career, I went back to business school and pivoted into strategy consulting.

I agree that speaking to different companies will give you a sense of what they are looking for and that analytical, critical thinking, and problem solving skills are important. These skills can be cultivated regardless of your background and can be leveraged to help solve clients' problems in industries that can be quite different from where you came from.

For example, having experience in international organizations and nonprofits, I found myself as a consultant in the financial services and pharmaceutical space.


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Claire’s Answer

I think the beauty of consulting is that there are many different ways to get there. I had a more standard path, where I majored in business in college and applied for an internship with a field that interested me immensely (M&A consulting), found that I loved it, and continued along that path. The beauty is, though, you don't have to follow that path. Many of my colleagues majored in STEM fields such as engineering, interned or even started full time with engineering companies before going to consulting. You can work for a private company in finance or technology and use that experience to join a consulting firm when you need a change.


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Sarah’s Answer

I definitely agree with the comments above! Personally speaking, I studied Mechanical Engineering & Economics during my undergraduate experience and while my current role does not directly involve me solving fluid mechanics problems, the problem solving and critical thinking skills I learned in both of my courses are definitely applicable to my consulting role. My peers come from diverse backgrounds as well; some studied business, others studied history or engineering, so there is no one clear degree which leads to consulting. As long as you are able to use your skills, work experiences and education to make an impact and solve problems, you are in good shape!




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Connor’s Answer

In my opinion there are many paths to being a consultant. Less important is the path and more important is the skill set you bring. I went to a small liberal arts undergraduate college and came right to PwC. While I didn't have the business background, I did have core critical thinking, project management, leadership, and problem solving skills that helped me get going early on. Those didn't necessarily come from another job, but more some of the extra curricular a I did in college (student gov., playing a college sport). So my best advice to you is to not be so locked into what jobs show up on a resume but rather the stories you can tell and the skills you can bring to a consulting job. Good luck!

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Marcela’s Answer

I strongly believe that consulting in one of those fields that attracts people from very different backgrounds and fields. Personally I studied political science and latin american studies with a minor in business administration. I have peers that studied accounting, finance, engineering, etc. In consulting you need to be prepared to think on your feet, be detail oriented, have strong critical thinking abilities and be personable. At the end of the day you are a consultant to solve problems for your clients.

I would encourage you to try to find out when the big consulting companies are hosting information sessions near you and attend. This is a great way to learn what specific companies want and need. #network

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Farrah’s Answer

Hi Julianne,

There is no specific education or experience path that leads to a career in consulting. Last summer, I met someone who studied political science but interned in cybersecurity consulting. It's important to focus on developing core consulting skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, leadership skills, etc. because those are evaluated during the interview process.

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Susan’s Answer

I think just about any education path can lead to a career in consulting. I am a lawyer that practiced at a law firm and now I'm a consultant. We have nurses and cyber experts and psychiatrists and statisticians and anything you can imagine. The only common thread is that they have an expertise or education in a topic that they can think about in a way that solves problems for their clients.

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Kevin’s Answer

There is a real long answer to this question but I'll just say this. What really was the game changer for me was when I realized that I didn't have to be an expert on everything and stopped trying. If you provide bandwidth by consulting for someone, you're an asset. I work with early-stage startups a lot. A lot of times they just don't have the time and resources enough to dedicate a full effort to resolve an issue so they'll look to a consultant. It's good to have an area of expertise but you can't turn down every job that doesn't fall into your comfort zone. Develop a concise way to research and an effective way to communicate your findings. That's your product. If your going to consult full time understand that it's all hustle. A reliable paycheck is great but that's a whole other gig. Part time consulting is a good way to start. It's a good skill to have just in case you want to make a change in your life. You hear about it all the time in Silicon Valley. "I'm between jobs right now so I'm just doing some consulting until I find something."

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Benjamin’s Answer

Initially, I began consulting to supplement my income. Conducting primary scientific research helped develop critical thinking regarding narrow and large-scope aspects for projects. Developing a similar mindset could be valuable for a future in consulting.

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Jerel O.’s Answer

Hi Julianne,

As mentioned before, there is no one path that leads to a career in management consulting. Regarding my own experience, I received my undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, and immediately began a career as a research scientist. I eventually transitioned from my role in the laboratory and obtained a position as a project manager within the public health sector. During my time as a project manager, I was able to acquire transferable skills that have served me well in my current position as a management consultant. Although my background is in science, I have supported clients within various industries using core consulting skills that I developed. As a management consultant, I have supported clients within technology, media, telecommunications, financial services, government, and healthcare industries. Regardless of your educational background and experience, having core consulting skills, can lead you to a career in management consulting. Listed below, are a few valuable consulting skills that I believe will serve you well.

• Creative thinking – Creative thinking will allow you to share ideas that go beyond the standard and normally accepted ways of approaching the business of the industry. It encourages brainstorming and listening to ideas from all kinds of people.
• Problem-solving – As a management consultant, you may be called on to help a client solve a business need and provide additional guidance or expertise. Your ability to listen carefully to the concerns the client presents to you and react quickly and thoughtfully to help propose solutions may be among the most valuable skills you can possess.
• Collaboration with all staff levels – As a management consultant, you may interact with clients and stakeholders of all staff levels. It will be useful to have a sense of confidence when working with both clients and stakeholders. Developing poise, politeness, friendliness, excellent listening skills and public speaking skills will serve you well in any circumstance.
• Time management – Time management will also serve you well as a management consultant. Good time management will allow you to focus your time and energy on your most important activities, so you can achieve more in less time. Managing your time will help you get clearer, more focused and more productive on your most important activities.

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Marc’s Answer

There are so many paths that can lead to a career in consulting. Consulting firms look for strong problem solvers and communicators and firms do not believe that those traits only exist in a few "feeder" careers. You can certainly try to apply and interview through the experienced hire route, but going to business school for your MBA can improve your chances because you can take advantage of on-campus recruiting. The experienced hire route has inconsistent hiring needs, but all firms plan to hire a full class out of MBA programs, so you don't have to get lucky on timing and headcount needs.

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Vincent’s Answer

For me, I came from engineering and many of my counterparts come from traditional Business (Finance, Marketing, Accounting, etc.) or Economics. With that said, there are many paths to consulting. Prior to consulting, I worked in Operations in the Food/Beverage industry where I gained experience and exposure to a variety of challenges. I came to consulting to leverage those experiences and work with a variety of clients to solve their respective business problems.

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