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Undergrad Needs Info

#1 Undergrad Needs Info
29/08/2003 00:00


Hi, I'm currently enrolled in college and am interested in possibly pursuing a career as a consultant. I know almost nothing about how to become one, so I was hoping someone could steer me in the direction I need to be in to start studying to become a TOP Consultant! I am very interested in the field, so tons of info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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#2 Re: Undergrad Needs Info
01/09/2003 00:00

Stephanie Owen

Hi Chrissy,

Where do I start? First you might want to read some introductory books on the subject (there should be some in the library), so that you are making a career choice based on knowledge not rumours or myths. For example, when you're in college you tend to be attracted by all the glitzy travel associated with consulting. (I know I was.) However, several years of endless travel can wear you out, especially when you have a significant-other in the picture down the track.

Secondly, you need to research which consulting firms hire grads, because not all of them do. Then you need to research the individual firms and what they tend to look for/where they recruit. Most consulting firms don't care what you study as long as you get good results. Many top-end firms would prefer to hire people with PhDs, Masters (especially MBAs) and would prefer at least Honours if you just come out with a Bacehlors degree.

Personally, I think a background working in industry before moving to consulting is the best preparation for the job. For example, I spent 5 years in industry prior to consulting. I have now been consulting for over 8 years, 4 years in a big firm, 4 years as an in-house consultant and now in my own business. I think my first 5 years in industry helped enormously in how I work with client organisations.

The only thing to keep in mind if you spend your initial years in industry, is that you have to get out and into consulting before you're 28-30 years old. Many consulting firms don't want to hire anyone over 30 who hadn't been in consulting before.

Good luck,

Stephanie Owen

Strategic Risk Consultant

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#3 Re: Undergrad Needs Info
01/09/2003 00:00


I am in a similar position I guess to that of Chrissy, in that I'm an undergrad at a (UK) university and am interested in going into consultancy. I have some work experience under my belt in a firm and therefore have a pretty good feel for the work. I was interested in what you (Stephanie) were saying about the benefits of working in some other field of business before moving into consultancy. Would you advise that in general it is best to do that? (that is, start a graduate programme in a blue chip, maybe stay for 4-6 years). Or do you think that, if one already knows what to expect, it is best to jump straight in after univeristy? My hunch is that, although I do want to get into management consultancy, I'd prefer to go in with a proven track-record in business, and some real experience to draw on. What do you think? I'd really appreciate you or anyone else's views,



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#4 Re: Undergrad Needs Info
01/09/2003 00:00

Stephanie Owen

Dear IP,

I think it is dangerous to generalise, however what you said (spend 4-6 years in a graduate programme in a blue chip), is exactly what I did. I believe I reaped the following benefits from this career track:

(1) I had a "name" on my CV and some business track record, both of which are attractive to consultancies;

(2) I had (have) more credibility working with clients because I had actually experienced real-life business processes (rather than just mapping them). If you have a chance one day, ask a senior manager who has used consultants before, what he/she thinks of newly minted graduate "consultants". I think the answer will be less than flattering.

(3) I could(can) deliver better results for my clients because I understand how things get implemented in large organisations. And that, you will agree, is that ultimate goal of consulting, to have your recommendations actually implemented (whether you do it or someone else). As an aside, I once worked with a *brilliant* ex-McKinsey guy on a strategy project who was surprised when I told him the CEO is not the only one who had to agree to the strategy we were proposing. He thought if the CEO said jump, everyone would ask how high. That might be the textbook theory but it is not how 99% of organisations work.

(4) My career progression once I joined a consultancy did not suffer compared to someone who joined as a graduate.

(5) I was able to move back to a corporate role after 4 years in a consultancy (albeit to an in-house consulting role). Some of my colleagues who had spent their previous careers in consultancies found the transition quite challenging.

My only caveat is that 4-6 years after finishing your degree is probably optimal to join a consultancy. I wouldn't wait beyond age 28-30 (as I've commented on elsewhere in this forum).

good luck.

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#5 Re: Undergrad Needs Info
26/09/2003 00:00


Hi. I am a final semester student at The University of Auckland. I'm studying a four year Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree, with a major in IT and Information Systems. I've also done Management and International Business papers. I have a passion for Business and Strategy. I would really like to start my career in IT/Business Startegy consulting. Any advice on which firms to target, which locations to work in? I'm also thinking abt doing a Masters degree in Information Systems from a good US college or The London School of Economics, in a years time. After a couple of years work experience I'd like to do an MBA from a top US school. What can u advice me on this front...will a Masters degree enhance my career chances, will I be able to land a fulfilling position with just an undergrad degree? Cheers.

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