What education and experience path leads to consulting?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.