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consulting: good choice for graduates?

 
#1 consulting: good choice for graduates?
28/09/2003 00:00

Ed

Hi all,

was wondering whether anybody could offer some advice as to whether it is wise for a graduate to enter management consulting straight from university. I'm a finalist considering going into consulting, but have a large doubt about going straight into consulting due to the fact that, if I was a company looking for advice/help the last person I would go to see would be a fresh-faced graduate with no real work/managemnt experience of his/her own! Is it wiser, instead, to start a graduate programme in a particular industry (I'm thinking specifically of perhaps going into the motor industry, probably in marketing), gain some experience/promotion/project-work in that field for 3-6 years then move into consulting if still interested? That way, I guess, you'd have some real experience and knowledge. Anyway, if anybody has any views regarding this I'd really appreciate it, as I'll be starting job applications pretty soon! cheers, Ed

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#2 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
29/09/2003 00:00

Sharat

Hi Ed. I'm in exactly the same position as you. I too am about to finish my under grad degree, from The University of Auckland. I would say that the fact that all major Consulting firms have Graduate programmes shows that there is definitely a place in their organization for grads. However, could it mean that the grads are assigned to all the "dirty" grunt work like research, paper work etc...? The impression I seem to get however is that although grads will not be allowed to interface at all levels with clients, there is some real life big-picture work that hey will be involved in. Obviously, the more pro-active and competent a person is, the sooner he/she will be given the opportunity to get involved in real cosulting work. Having said all this, I too am in the dark, as much as the next person. So, any feedback u get, pls pass it along. Cheers.

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#3 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
29/09/2003 00:00

Ed

My concern I guess is that, even with the training (and good money) etc you would get with a graduate programme with a big consultancy, at the end of the day, you would struggle to get much credibility from a client unless you had at least a couple of years working in a particular industry and gaining direct management/business experience. My gut feeling, (I think, anyway!) is that to be a good consultant (and reap the rewards successfully) you really need some proper experience of business and management first, probably starting in a grad scheme in some other kind of industry. Anyway, best of luck with whatever you decide to do: I'm a UK undergrad, so doubt we'll be competing for the same jobs in either case! Ed

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#4 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
30/09/2003 00:00

Sharat

Hi Ed. Yea, what you say does have some merit. However, I also feel that as a graduate in a consulting firm, one would always be working in assignment teams, usually with at least one senior consultant / mentor. This way, clients do not have to place explicit trust in the "rookies". For all intents and purposes, this system does seem to work. Consulting firms earn significant revenues because clients are prepared to pay for their services, even with the newbies workin on the case. I feel that working as a graduate in a consulting firm will arm one with certain skills and qualities, which can later be captitalised on while advancing up the rungs in the firm/s. Having said that, industry management experience is invaluable as well. So I guess it boils down to what sort of a person you are - do you feel more comfortable working across a wide range of activities , or do you feel it better to gain specific experience of an industry/s prior to becoming a consultant. Cheers.

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#5 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
01/10/2003 00:00

Jack Prouty

Ed-I have about 20+ years of management consulting experience across several firms and have been involved in hiring a large number of consultants into these various practices, so let me share my strong views: When I am hiring, I am looking for someone that has relevant industry and/or functional experience as well as great interpersonal skills, a "can do" attitude, and very strong analytical capabilities. Three to 5 years industry experience coupled with an MBA would be my starting point. Please note...most consulting firms don't do a good job of training inexperienced people, they want people that can deliver and bill immediately to clients. Clients also expect the same...there is a limited role for just bodies at high mark-ups that can do the same thing their staff can do. If you want a good career in consulting, I would first get a job in an industry you would like to specialize in and build your resume in the following areas: operations/financial analysis, project management, writing and public speaking skills, and working with consultants on in-house projects (could be references for you when you make your move)...hope this helps,Jack

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#6 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
01/10/2003 00:00

Ben

Hi Ed

I was lucky enough to land an entry-level position with an international consulting house straight out of university (while still working on my Masters degree) and have been working my way through the ranks for the last 6 years now. I do agree with the chicken egg situation – you do need work experience to make a good consultant.

But I am also of the opinion that consulting houses wouldn’t appoint consultants at entry level if there was no scope to train and develop them into top-notch consultants in time. I had the opportunity to gain front-line experience in a couple of blue-chip companies as well as public sector, and I gained immensely from it. I think I gained more than if I had been in the same desk job for 6 years.

After you have a few years non-consulting experience you may e.g. want to settle down and start a family and not be so keen on travelling or the hectic lifestyle of a consultant anymore.

In the end it is your choice – my opinion – if you can get into a consulting company go for it.

Good luck !

Ben

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#7 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
02/10/2003 00:00

Sharat

Hi Jack. Its intersting to note your views. I seem to recieve a whole wide range of opinions from different people regarding the merits of entering consultancy straight after University Vs getting a few years industry experience. To be honest I'm very confused. Would it be fair to say that if one is the kind of person who prefers to work across multiple industries, across different strategies, then they might be able to get a lot out of Consulting, even straight out of Uni. Please advice. Cheers

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#8 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
02/10/2003 00:00

Ling

Hi Ed,

Like Ben, I was lucky to get my foot into a SME management consultancy firm upon graduation. I'm into my six mths at work, and I must tell you - the work of a consultant demands a high level of commitment and discipline. 24/7 you are required to source for information from all sources and areas of disciplines. In short, we are engaged to sell knowledge.

Experience and knowledge is definitely a bonus if you have it. However…

My advise to you is, just send your resume out and keep knocking at the doors of any consulting firms. If you are determined to want to be a consultant – go for it! Like me, maybe you’ll be lucky to gain an entry into consultancy work without the industry protocol of what a consultant should and shouldn’t be.

You are your best consultant in this area!

Good luck pal and all the BEST!

: )

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#9 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
03/10/2003 00:00

Neeraj Arora

Dear Jack

I have 5 years experience and have just completed MBA, I am looking forward to working in good consultancy. So far no luck. I do have wide ranging skills - especially one's brought out by you for consultancy. I will like to know about the employability, may be in your organisation.

Please forward me your id at neeraj1004@yahoo.com, I will send my CV.

Looking forward to hearing from you asap.

kind regards,

Neeraj Arora

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#10 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
03/10/2003 00:00

Scoobs

Hey Ed,

I too, am a UK grad looking for the same as you...it seems to me (and its only an opinion) that it's a matter of choice, the debate of experience first versus "straight in" depends on what type of experience you have and also I think hunger. It's also a question of confidence in yourself. I'm very interested in what Ling had to say, it's very demanding and you have to have a "Zen master" attitude to the kind of work. I must admit, I'm extremely envious of Ling's position, SME management consultancy firm is exactly what I want to do, so if you see this Ling and it's a UK firm, please let me know of any positions! It would be very much appreciated. Good luck all. :)

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#11 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
04/10/2003 00:00

niki

Hi Jack. I have a dilemma. I have a job offer form Accenture but my problem is that it is mainly an IT consultancy and I am interested in strategy consulting. I also have a job offer from an accounting firm (Deloitte and Touche). Both these are for 2004. I could apply to some strategy consulting firms but I am going travelling around the world for a year so do not have that option. I realise that if i work with D&T I can train for my ACA, which is very highly regarded and then later on apply to a strategy consultancy. Ive read somwhere that when applying to strategy consultancies qualifications are very important. Do you suggest i do my ACA or get a couple of years expereince with Accenture and then apply to strategy consultancies?

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#12 Re: consulting: good choice for graduates?
05/10/2003 00:00

Ed

Hi all, just wanted to say thanks for all your views and advice. cheers, Ed

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