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Internships/workexperience for postgrads

#1 Internships/workexperience for postgrads
26/02/2008 11:38


Hi all,

I am currently doing a PhD at Cambridge and would like to get into (if poss) strat consulting once I've finished. I am in my first year and it seems hard to get internships that I'm eligible to apply for. You either have to be an undergraduate, or if not, in your penultimate year. The only suitable thing I've found (at the careers office and by internet search) is the Navigator internship at Accenture. It is basically an internship open to people who have graduated but are "figuring out" what to do. Although I would probably settle for Accenture as a place to start my career, I would be aiming for MBBB as first choice.

But since my only real work experience has either been as research assistant or working in local government, I reason that I should just apply anyway to get some experience in the private sector. It may not be the "right" work experience as it's in Technology Integration, not strat.

So my questions to you helpful people on the board are:

1) Do you have any information on the Navigator internship at Accenture? I would simply like to know more about it, what you do, who normally applies to it, what are the chances of a social science PhD student getting onto it etc.

2) Do you know of any other consultancies (preferably strategy and some public sector client base, with strat focus being the most important) that offer internships or work experience to post-grads NOT in their penultimate year? If not, any other suggestions on the work-experience (paid or unpaid) front would be appreciated. I'm keen to get work experience in actual consultancy proper as to know whether I'm suited to it or not. Right now I think I am.


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#2 RE: Internships/workexperience for postgrads
26/02/2008 13:04

Tony Restell ( to Al (#1)

Al - internships in consulting are extremely rare. I'd hazard a guess that 99%+ of consultants don't have a consultancy internship on their CV, ie. they used work experience outside of consulting as their leverage to get in.

In terms of relevant internships, anything you can secure with organisations that would be major clients of consulting firms would be viewed favourably when applications are being reviewed. A stint with a FTSE 100 organisation (eg. BP, Vodafone, Marks & Spencer, etc.), iconic brand (Google, Apple, etc.) or City institution (investment bank, regulator, etc.) will look good on your CV and help your subsequent applications.

The only thing this will not give you is the exposure to know that consulting "is for you" - but to be honest a few hours spent at careers fairs and campus presentations will either have you warming to the sector or running a mile.

Hope this helps

Tony Restell

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#3 RE: Internships/workexperience for postgrads
26/02/2008 18:31

Al to Tony Restell ( (#2)

Thanks for the advice! One problem is, I'm sure the kind of companies you mentioned still have the same kind of stipulations about being a penultimate year student for their internships. So I guess I could just wait until I'm penultimate year and spend the summer on my thesis.

Alternatively, I have heard of friends doing stints at FTSE100 companies through temp agencies so I could do the same. Even though the role may not be great, any kind business experience is worthwhile to someone with very little. So I'll do this should I fail to land an internship.

I've been to many careers events (as an undergrad and grad) and consulting definitely appeals relative to other options, even though I suppose the job of careers fair people is to really sell it to you.

So once I've got more experience under my belt I presume I would have to then justify to an employer why I did the PhD. My exact reason for doing it was that I was offered the funding and so couldn't turn down the chance to get a PhD, even though I didn't see my career in academia, or would have chosen to do a PhD if it wasn't so easy to get on and had guaranteed funding. It was basically opportunistic rather than planned.

Would people think I'm not career focused in doing a PhD that has no relevance to my chosen career? The way I see it is that I'm achieving a life goal (i.e. a significant personal achievement that is not necessarily career-related) before I'm 26. I'll have a doctorate from Cambridge which will stay with me for the rest of my life. The cost (apart from all the hard work in doing it!!) is the forgone earnings and work experience which I hope won't put me at a disadvantage when I apply for jobs in 2010. Any thoughts on this, will I be disadvantage vis-a-vis a grad with a business degree from a top uni?

One final point is that I've heard from my friends that work at consultancies (except a friend at Mck and possible some of the other most reputable consultancies where they have a specific recruitment route for PhDs) is that some consultancies are reluctant to take on PhDs as they think they have over-inflated views about their role in the firm (if only because they tend to be older than grad starters). In other words, PhDs often have to start at the bottom, with grads, and this can cause resentment as they expect a bigger role. Employers anticipate this and might would rather employ a grad who has no problem doing the grinding. My own view on this is that I'll be 25/26 when I start working which is still relatively young compared to the age of most PhDs, as most PhDs that finish are likely to be closer to 30 (because they work before their PhD for a few years, whereas I've just gone straight through from BSc->Masters->PhD. Plus the fact I've had no extensive continual work experience (i.e. >1year) I would expect to start at the bottom to "learn the ropes". Any thoughts on how PhD applicants are treated? Also how can I convince an employer that I don't mind starting at the bottom?

Am I just worrying over nothing? I'm just keen to get the best opportunity I can get so need to know what's available in order to do that. Cheers for any responses!


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#4 RE: Internships/workexperience for postgrads
26/02/2008 18:34

arghh to Al (#3)

I work for Deloitte, started on the grad scheme, and there were a fair few PhDs that started with me. Hazarding a guess, I'd say at least 5 people. Hope this helps.

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