• Grace Zhang

Learn About Consulting: FAQs and Introductory Resources

Generally, consultants help businesses improve their operations and strategize about how to achieve their goals — whether that be maximizing efficiency, increasing profits, expanding into new markets, and so on. A career in consulting can take you down any number of paths and involves exposure to a diverse range of clients and industries. For those interested in an introduction to consulting, YUCG has compiled a list of FAQs and introductory resources.

What do consultants do day-to-day?

Since consultants often work one on or a few projects at a time, they get the opportunity to work closely with clients and spend time familiarizing themselves with businesses. This can entail interviews, research and data analysis, as well as traveling to client sites. Due to the collaborative nature of consulting, consultants may find themselves working closely with a team, getting to know both peers and clients well as they analyze and solve problems together.

This article from The Muse, an NYC-based online career platform, provides a beginner-friendly yet comprehensive introduction to consulting as a career from the individual-level perspective.

What skills are involved in consulting?

Consulting requires a unique skill set, the most important of which are generally analytical problem-solving and communication. Consultants use these skills to understand their client, industry, and goals, and to weave together information to effectively communicate findings and recommendations to clients.

The Muse article also provides a helpful overview of important skills in consulting.

This article by the president of the consulting firm Smart Change Group provides a detailed list and explanations of skills required in nonprofit consulting. These are also highly relevant to management consulting generally.

What are some “perks” of consulting as a career?

Oft-cited benefits of a career in consulting include diverse project work, versatile skill development, career flexibility, and travel opportunities.

Deloitte, a leading consulting firm, highlights some of the most notable benefits of a consulting career, such as the range of project work and the continual development of skills.

This article from career research and advice organization, 80,000 Hours, provides a more in-depth look at the pros (and cons) of a consulting career, such as impact, opportunities for advancement, networking, and skill development.

Case interview prep site Case Coach provides insight into some of the pros of working at some of the biggest consulting firms.

What opportunities are there following work as a consultant?

The opportunities for those with consulting experience are vast. Many large companies are attracted to consulting experience, offering opportunities for rapid advancement once entering an industry; 15% of CEOs at top 500 companies come from the three largest strategy consulting firms. Consulting is also a good first step for many other sectors, such as policy and social enterprise. Other common paths include MBA programs, advancing within the firm, working on strategy for other companies, entrepreneurship, and many more.

The 80,000 Hours article also features “Opportunities following work as a consultant” and “Opportunities for advancement within consulting” sections that provide in-depth and specific examples in these areas.

What if I am interested in consulting outside of the for-profit sector? What opportunities are there in consulting for nonprofits, and how do I pursue them?

The skills and expertise of consultants are highly valuable to nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit route can be an ideal way to make direct social impact, whether pursued right after graduation or through transition out of the private sector.

This article from nonprofit AARP provides a blueprint and advice for going into nonprofit consulting. The article is geared towards professionals looking for a career transition, but the information is still quite useful.

What does the consulting recruitment process look like?

Larger consulting firms usually offer summer internships to undergraduates starting the summer after junior year, with the process beginning the summer before. The summer internship process is often more competitive than full-time due to the small number of positions offered. The process for full-time positions generally begins the summer or fall after junior year. The recruitment process for consulting will differ depending on the school, as well your individual goals — reach out to older YUCG members who have experience to learn more!

Street of Walls, a firm offering training for consulting and finance interviews, provides a comprehensive, relevant overview of the consulting recruitment process.

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