Consulting firms are hired by organizations of all kinds – for-profit, nonprofit, and government agencies – to help them solve a problem or facilitate an organizational change. The more commonly known “general strategy” firms cover a broad portfolio of industries across sectors. There are also firms that specialize in specific industries such as healthcare, government, and financial services, while others specialize in functional areas that span industries, such as human resources, technology, and communications. Rather than hire an outside firm, some organizations have internal consultants, also referred to as business or corporate strategy departments, to address and resolve similar business and operational issues from within the organization.
In general, consulting firms hire more full-time employees than they do summer interns. Do not get discouraged if you are not successful in the summer internship hiring process. Summer intern recruiting is an important process that helps you develop connections and become more of a known entity with firms. Staying connected with the people you have met demonstrates your interest and commitment to the field and can help your candidacy if you apply for a full-time opportunity. If you do get an offer for the summer, the main goal of the summer internship should be to see if consulting is a good fit for you, and if it is, to parlay the internship into a full-time offer.
Quantitative skills are valued, and firms will even look at SAT/ACT or GRE/GMAT scores for evidence of quantitative aptitude. Furthermore, demonstrated ability to work in a team is extremely important. That is partly why consulting firms use the case interview method – to evaluate your ability to solve a problem aloud and to structure and articulate your thought process to a teammate or client. Finally, it is important to remember that consulting is a client-facing industry. It is important to use face-to-face opportunities to demonstrate “core skills,” like communication skills, poise under pressure, and confidence.
Graduate and Professional Programs
Graduate school is not required to work in consulting or strategy. However, hiring organizations may look for more experienced candidates from a wide range of fields and disciplines, including business, law, medicine, and PhD programs for higher level positions within their organization. In particular, many consulting firms hire out of MBA programs, as well as other advanced degrees.
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