Careers in Consulting
Consulting is a broad term that, in its most basic form, is the work of solving business problems. Employers from the private, public and social sectors hire consultants to help them increase efficiency and revenues, reduce spending, or plan for future success.
Consulting is a team-oriented and relational profession that requires you to work with others on project or case teams to build rapport with clients, understand their needs, conduct due diligence, and offer recommendations for change and implementation. Consultants typically work on projects for 3-to-6 months at a time and many firms require the work to be done on the client site Monday through Thursday, which often involves intense travel.
Types of consulting
1. Management/Strategy Consulting Firms
Management consulting firms provide strategic or operational advice to organizations that span a variety of industries. The top three management consulting firms are often referred to as “MBB,” or McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Other major management consulting firms include Accenture, Kearney, and L.E.K. Consulting.
2. Big Four-Affiliated Consulting Firms
The Big Four firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG) who each have robust accounting practices, have ramped up their advisory offerings, providing strategic business and operations services to many of the same clients served by the MBB consulting firms.
3. Niche/Boutique Consulting
Boutique consulting firms typically specialize in a particular industry, process, or type of consulting. Types of boutique consulting firms with sample firms that have hired Georgetown students in the past include: Charles River Associates, Navigant Consulting, NERA Economic Consulting, and Heidrick & Struggles.
Given the variety of consulting firms out there, it is important to research firms that you are interested in, and start early. As you attempt to distinguish among the many opportunities that exist, consider the primary type of work done by the firm. Also consider how the work is performed. Is there travel involved? How are projects staffed? What is the composition of a project team? Will you be staffed on one project at a time or more than one? What is the average project length? Finally, you should learn as much as you can about the culture of each firm. Figure out what elements of culture are most important to you and use those to find your fit.
To stay on top of the industry, make it a habit to read trade publications and popular websites. Websites such as The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are good resources, even if you’re not interested in finance. Many firms like McKinsey and Deloitte regularly publish white papers, which can be a great way to get a pulse on industry trends as well as the firm’s approach to solving problems. Vault, available to Georgetown students for free through the career center’s website, is another good place to research consulting companies.
Here are some other places to stay informed about the consulting industry.
- Consulting Bench
- Consulting Magazine
- The Economist
- Harvard Business Review
- Institute of Management Consultants USA
- Management Consulted
- PwC’s strategy+business
- Vault Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms
The good news about consulting is that there are many events and opportunities that take place on campus at which you can learn about the industry. Every year, consulting employers host information sessions, case interview workshops, coffee chats, and networking events.
Develop a LinkedIn profile that communicates your personal and professional brand while also highlighting your skill set. Networking with people in the industry is a great way to find mentors and contacts, and ask questions. Reach out to alumni through Hoya Gateway, Georgetown’s alumni page on LinkedIn, and Georgetown University’s Alumni Career Network. Check out our networking guide for more information on how to get started.
Joining a student organization is another excellent way to learn more about the industry, develop your skills, and get hands-on experience. Georgetown offers a number of opportunities for Hoyas to get involved in consulting. Check out Hilltop Consultants, Innovo Consulting, and DCivitas.
As a consultant, you can work with clients from any industry. Consultants are hired for their ability to solve problems. As such, problem-solving is an important trait to demonstrate in your resume and cover letter. Other attributes to highlight about yourself include leadership, teamwork, and analytical abilities. The great thing about these characteristics is that they can be developed in any kind of experience. You can demonstrate these qualities whether you work on Capitol Hill for a semester or by conducting research with a professor.
One of the unique components of consulting is how the industry uses cases in their interview process. Cases are generally pared down, simplified versions of previous client projects that a company has worked on. There is no right answer to the case interview. What’s more important is that you master thinking on your feet and verbally communicating your problem-solving process for the interviewer. If you want to learn more about case interviewing, check out our case interviewing guide.
Many firms offer internships to Georgetown students. However, while internships in consulting provide valuable professional experience, they are not imperative in order to land a full-time post-graduation job. Internships in both the private and public sectors allow you to see the client perspective, which is valuable to consulting firms. In addition, while consulting firms regularly recruit for interns on campus, the majority of hires are seniors for full-time positions.
At Georgetown, many of the consulting firms participate in on-campus interviewing. The process typically begins in the first month of the fall semester, with a presentation for students to hear from company representatives and do some networking. Applications for both internships and full-time opportunities are then submitted through Handshake and on the company’s website. Once the firms have selected candidates, they will proceed with a few rounds of interviews. The first round, often held on campus, consists of a behavioral or fit interview as well as a case interview. The subsequent round(s) generally include multiple case interviews at the company office with individuals at multiple levels of the firm (e.g. associates, managers, and partners).
Select Employers & Internships
These are the three largest and most prestigious consulting firms in the world.
- Bain & Co.
- Boston Consulting Group
- McKinsey & Co
Big 4 Consulting
Public Sector Consulting
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- The Bridgespan Group
- Deloitte Consulting
Human Resource Consulting
- Aon Hewitt
- Deloitte Consulting
- Huron Consulting Group
- Mercer LLC
- Towers Watson
- ZS Associates
Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Consulting
- The Advisory Board
- Amundsen, an IMS Health Company
- Health Advances
Litigation & Economic Consulting
- Analysis Group, Inc.
- Berkeley Research Group, LLC
- Charles River Associates
- Cornerstone Research
- Edgeworth Economics
- Navigant Consulting
- NERA Economic Consulting
- FTI Consulting
- First Manhattan Consulting Group
- Oliver Wyman
Information Technology & Operations Consulting
- Deloitte Consulting