Tips and Tricks to Help You Get a Job in Consulting

Breaking into consulting isn’t easy. At each college or university, there are hundreds of candidates following similar casing strategies and behavioral interview frameworks, vying for just a few positions. Each candidate is unique in his or her own way, and showing that individuality is critical in making a lasting first impression on recruiting mangers.

After being both a candidate and a seasoned consultant screening other applicants, I’ve learned a few things that would have made the recruiting process a lot easier if I had known them ahead of time. Here are my top pieces of advice on how to get a job in consulting:

1. All Networking isn’t Good Networking

Most consulting candidates know networking is important. They go to all recruiting events and try to get a few words in with every practitioner they can. Almost always, these candidates end with “Do you mind if I get a business card so we can stay in touch?” 

Business cards are not Pokémon — you don’t need to catch ’em all.

Networking by trying to talk to as many people as possible isn’t an effective strategy, but it’s a great way to come off fake and make a bad first impression. Instead, I encourage applicants to network with a purpose.

This means three things:

  1. Reach out early, not just during recruiting season
  2. Don’t over-index on level; instead, prioritize speaking to people who work in areas you are interested in and ask targeted questions
  3. If you make a genuine connection, maintain it by asking for their contact information and staying in touch (even if you don’t end up getting / wanting the job)

2. Perfect Your Résumé

The 80/20 rule is important in consulting, but not when it comes to your résumé. Take the time to really think about the message you are trying to get across to recruiting managers and make sure your résumé reflects that. Only include relevant items (high school debate club does not count) and be sure to measure your impact when detailing your past experiences (e.g. “Led X initiatives that increased profitability by Y% over the period of Z years).

3. Don’t Overlook Your Campus Recruiter

Campus recruiters don’t make hiring decisions, but they are critical resources and can help guide you as you navigate the application process. In the past, recruiters have helped me connect with consulting practitioners, speed up interview timelines, and extend deadlines. Be sure to know who your campus recruiter is and to introduce yourself. To earn some brownie points, you can also offer to help out in any way you can with on-campus recruiting events, room bookings, etc. You never know when that connection will come in handy.

For more advice on how to get a job in consulting, check out Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng. It’s a great read, extremely helpful, and helped me get a job in consulting when I was an applicant.

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Day in the Life of a Consultant

What is Consulting? Day in the Life of a Consultant

What is consulting?
What is Consulting?

It’s not uncommon for folks outside of consulting to really wonder, “What is consulting?” What consultants do on a day-to-day basis depends on client / project, travel schedule, and level. While there is no “typical” day in consulting, I’ll try to take you through what a day in the life of a consultant could look like from my own personal experience after 2+ years in consulting at a Top 5 firm.

6AM – Alarm

My 6AM alarm rings and I remember the promise I made to myself the night before: to work out. Feeling tired and slightly hungover after a team dinner & drinks, I turn it off and wait for the next alarm to wake up. Truth is, I make myself that promise every night — it rarely gets fulfilled.

7AM – The Real Alarm

Okay, now it’s really time to get up. Before I get out of bed, I immediately reach for my phone to check my email and make sure there were no fire drills (i.e. client emergencies). I start getting ready, thankful I remembered to pack all my personal care items this week (this kit has pretty much everything a man could need, travel sized). 

(Pro Tip: For a quick & comfortable shave each morning, try Philips OneBlade — this changed my life).

8AM – First Call & Leave for Work

After getting ready, I quickly call an Uber to work and take out my AirPods to hop on my first call of the day with our offshore team in India. I’m hoping I don’t have to speak because I’ll probably lose service in the elevator down and will have to drop the call when my Uber driver inevitably calls to tell me they have arrived (to all the Uber drivers out there, we know when you arrive. Give us a minute.).

8:30AM – Coffee

Once I get to the office, I put my things down, grab a co-worker or two, and go get a coffee to start my day. I prefer higher-end coffee shops (e.g. Blue Bottle), but I can settle for Starbucks. My order is a trenta cold brew (black), in case you were wondering. After numbing myself to the effects of coffee over time, caffeine rush lasts only about 3 hours.

10AM – Daily Scrum Meeting

After firing off emails and sipping on a burnt-tasting cold brew for most of the morning, our team’s daily scrum meeting time approaches. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is when the whole team gets together in a room and talks about what they are working on. In my opinion, a colossal waste of time. But yes, we do this… every. single. day.

11AM – Client Calls

I don’t like to schedule my client calls first thing in the morning because I’m typically still half-awake, so I take a couple from 11 till lunch time. These calls are typically either design / requirements gathering sessions (common when working on a technology project) or meetings to work through some sort of issue or fire drill (most of the time they aren’t even real issues — they were self-created through one misinterpreted client comment followed by several games of telephone down the chain of command).

Pro Tip: Always offer to schedule meetings for your team and client. It’s a bit of manual work, but you get to choose a time that works well with you.

1PM – Lunch

It’s finally time for lunch. I try and push myself (and my team) to eat as late as possible because it makes the 2nd half of the day seem shorter, but since I don’t eat breakfast I’m famished by this time. I offer to order for the team in most cases (this way, I get to pick the restaurant), and we get it delivered through Uber Eats or Postmates. I’m typically still in calls when lunch arrives, so I send an analyst down to go play Where’s Waldo with the delivery guy.

2PM – More Meetings

If you haven’t noticed, meetings are a trend. I spend roughly 80% of my days in meetings, which leaves me 20% of my time to do actual work. This is the cost of keeping senior leadership and the client happy and informed while still trying to get your job done.

3PM – Leave for Airport

I traveled from the west coast to the east coast and back during the work week, so I pack my beloved Tumi laptop bag and leave for airport earlier than most folks. On the way to the airport, I take another client call (it’s incredible how many calls you get invited to when you have a little subject matter expertise).

Pro Tip: Remember to block off time on your calendar if you don’t want meetings scheduled — when I was on the west coast and had east coast clients, I always blocked off 5-8am so I could get a full night’s sleep.

5PM Take Off & PowerPoint

I rarely get time to stop by the airport lounge, so I have my first drink on-flight (double Bloody Mary). Shortly after, I bust out my laptop again and start working on presentations. These presentations are typically for next-day leadership status updates or client design sessions. Airplanes are my quiet time, thanks to these Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, and where I work the most efficiently. I love these headphones now that I no longer have to hear the first-time flyers complaining that they can’t connect to the wifi or annoying babies crying all flight long (send ’em to the back of the plane!).

8PM Land, Groceries, and Home

There’s no better feeling than landing home on a Thursday evening. With a smile on my face, I rush out to find my car and get to Trader Joe’s to do my grocery shopping for the weekend so I can get home and sleep! Looking back, I probably would have saved a lot of valuable time with Amazon Fresh. After I get home, I turn on Netflix for an hour and slowly fall asleep after another long (yet rewarding) week on the road.

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Starting a Job in Management Consulting

Starting a job in management consulting can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. If you will be traveling — as most consultants do — your lifestyle will change dramatically. From the glamor of airline & hotel status, free vacations, and reimbursed steak dinners to the peril of delayed flights, long working hours, and living out of a suitcase, a job in management consulting can be a a bumpy (but rewarding) ride.

So how do you prepare?

Understand what kind of management consulting job you have

Management consulting is an umbrella term often used to describe several different types of jobs in consulting. The main types of management consulting jobs are those offered by some of the larger, well-known firms:

MBB Consulting Firms: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG

“Big 4” Consulting Firms: Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG

Other Consulting Firms: Accenture, ZS Associates, Oliver Wyman, etc.

These firms offer a wide variety of management consulting jobs, including: advisory, cyber security, risk management, strategy, technology, and human capital. Additionally, some firms offer these services to all industries while others specialize in just 1 or 2 industries. Understanding what work your firm does, where you fit in, and what industries your clients will be in is a great first step to succeeding in a management consulting job.

Prepare to be a road warrior

For the most part, a job in management consulting means that you will travel. It sounds fun — and it is — but also comes with several downsides you may not recognize at first. It is critical to prepare for traveling in management consulting.

Get your travel essentials

Investing in the right travel essentials (bags, headphones, toiletries) will help you have an enjoyable experience on the road. These are some of the key items you should invest in, along with some of my favorites:

Pick a hotel and airline – and stick with it

Accumulating airline miles and hotel points is one of the best perks of a job in management consulting – make sure you pick one brand and stick with it for as long as you can. Top airlines include Delta, American Airlines, and United. My personal favorite is Delta, as they offer unlimited complimentary upgrades (upon availability) and have the best service from my perspective. After the Marriott / SPG merger, choosing Marriott as your hotel of choice is probably your best bet.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check with your firm to see if they offer any status challenges to help you get to top-tier status way quicker than anyone else!

Network, Network, Network

Your network will be your largest asset in consulting — be sure to go to company events and talk to your peers about topics you are interested in. This will help drive your success and career path in a management consulting job.

You may also like:

5 Essentials to Survive a Career in Consulting

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