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Advice for a first year undergraduate?

#1 Advice for a first year undergraduate?
18/06/2008 23:51



Background: im studying economics at the university of warwick, and am soon to have completed my first year.

In short, the prospect of a career in consulting is an attractive one. Not least because of the lifestyle, but because its something i can see myself enjoying for a very long time.

Like all good things in life however, there is heated competition for such a job. I was wondering if you folk could offer me some advise as to how i can go about achieving my goals - in differentiating myself from the competition. What sort of work experience would you recommend me seeking out? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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#2 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 10:48

Anon to DaveOwilliams (#1)

Make sure you get a 2:1 or better in your degree AND get involved in an extracurricular activity.

(When I say involved, I mean that you should aim to be in a position of responsibility e.g. Treasurer)

Also, I think Accenture do summer internships for 1st years (but given that you have already finished your 1st year you are probably too late - I recall that the deadline is in January)

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#3 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 11:19

Cynic to Anon (#2)

Make up some phoney society such as "The Warwick Business Guild", get a handful of mates to join, and give yourself inflated titles like "President", "Senior Liaison Officer", and "Director of Strategic Policy". Anyone can set up their own club. It's up to the recruiter to do their due diligence and make sure they look beyond impressive names and titles on CVs.

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#4 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 13:21

anon to Cynic (#3)

A share clube is easy to do. Just sign up for a free share trading game on the internet and see how much you make.

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#5 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 14:44

Anon 99 to anon (#4)

As a final year undergrad, quite a few of my friends have achieved positions at consultants. I suppose everyone on here is saying the same:

1) 2:1 or better

2) A position of responsibility in an extracurricular activity. I'd disagree with Cynic: a phoney society might get found out at interview. I think most impressive is either becoming President/Treasurer of a well known and established society and/or starting your own society and building it up.

3) Something 'different' on your CV. And, by this, and I don't mean in terms of formatting! Remember, often employers must cut down a large number of CVs to a small number of interviews. Many CVs will have a 2:1 prediction, and an extracurricular activity (maybe even a phoney one!). So stand out with something that shows unique initiativeand doesn't illustrate you've simply engaged in a box-ticking exercise.

If you achieve this, and Fortuna smiles, you will hopefully be able to get through to the interview stages. For this, preparation is the key. See if your uni has a subscription to the Vault guides. Find any 'friends of friends' in the consultancies you wish to aim for.

I never did an internship, yet still landed a postion at a consulting firm. However, I would seriously recommend applying to these - although not all consultancies run them. Most occur in the Summer of your second year - so applications may close anywhere between Oct and Mar.

Good luck!

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#6 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 15:04

advice to Anon 99 (#5)

Consulting has a tradition of overachieving and certain universities have this image and luckily Warwick is one of those so this will stand you in good stead as well as your degree subject.

You should look at large consultancies and strat houses for internships as these are often a quicker way into the organisation. Alternatively there are a few recruitment firms like Freshminds who place students and grads into strat houses to do analysis, interviewing, research and the like. I got into MBB firms regularly doing this.

Yes, you need extracurricular activities, but to shine you need to do lots. i.e. play several sports, join a few societies, gain a committee position on one. Travel to somewhere interesting and go explore using that chunky student loan, perhaps even go on an expedition to conserve rainforests (Operation Releigh, GAP, Opwall etc.) or teach or build schools in Oman or Mongolia. Perhaps even do some qualifications in your spare time on holiday periods, i.e. train to be a scuba diving instructor.

You could also do additional modules at uni such as advanced french or arabic which would make for interestign banter.

Tick list:

Good university

Appropriate course




extracurricular activities (plural and team oriented)

charitable activities

teaching exprience

evidence of soft skills (do an NLP course)

evidence of technical skills (beef up on excel and powerpoint and perhaps visio)

evidence of maths (your degree is good)

quick thinking (brush up on case studies and brainteasers, often employers do workshops)

I did not do an internship however I got into consulting after uni, it's not easy and odds are high usually however its not all gloss but definitely preferable to majority of careers.

If you're interested in business maybe do a 1yr masters at your business school, good courses there.

Best of luck.

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#7 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 15:42

anon to DaveOwilliams (#1)

Any work experience is good for a start. If you can't get an internship (prob too late for this year) or if it doesn't take up your full break then apply for jobs directly or temp - you'll be doing similar work, and the most important thing is that you'll get exposure to the workplace and how things really work in business. This will add immesurably to the attractiveness of your CV, but also your ability and confidence to talk about business in a credible way.

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#8 RE: Advice for a first year undergraduate?
19/06/2008 16:20

anon to anon (#7)

Look into starting your own business. I had to for a business unit (although I didn’t tell them that bit) and I looked at starting my own DVD rental company on campus. It should be pretty easy to whip up a quick business plan or steal someone else’s. As long as you know what you’re talking about (and with something as common as DVD rental it’s pretty easy to) it’s a piece of cake.

Check out the Moviebank franchises.

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