Management consultants are specialists who help organisations maximise their growth or improve business performance. They are called in to deal with difficult challenges the organisation is having difficulty solving themselves, or where they want a new approach. This makes management consultancy an interesting career for those who love problem solving, innovation and varied challenges. It has a mystique which attracts many graduates, which makes it a very competitive career to get into. Here are our tips for beating the odds.
- Do your homework
Understanding as much as you can about the industry can help you be seen as focused, well informed about the work, and make a better impression on applications and in interviews. A great place to start your research is the Management Consulting careers page on our website.
- Consider what specialism/s you’re interested in
‘Management Consulting’ is a broad term covering many areas of specialism, for example strategy, technology, human resources, economics. So become familiar with the different types and try to work out which area/s you find most appealing.
- Make contacts
Meet people working in consulting to help you gain knowledge, and find out about opportunities. Check out the events listed in CareersLink for opportunities to meet and talk to these firms. The Big Careers Fair (Day 1, 10th Oct) typically attracts a number of consulting firms.
You can apply to be matched with a mentor working in management consulting, which can be a great way to gain inside knowledge and advice. Read about the Manchester Gold mentoring scheme for more details.
You can also use the Manchester Network as a great tool to find where previous Manchester graduates now work – useful for finding potential contacts in niche firms you can’t meet on campus. Get some great LinkedIn tips on our website about how to use it effectively, and how to make new contacts.
- Get relevant work experience
Consulting related experience will really help you stand out and reassure potential employers you have the right stuff. If you’re in your first year, check if any firms offer ‘Spring Internships’ or ‘Spring Insights’ which help you gain some understanding of the industry. In your second year, you should be applying for summer internships. Check the advice on the internships section of our website.
You can also join the Consulting Society, a group of like-minded fellow students who organise events for students interested in a career in consulting.
Another great way to experience working in project teams is to join Enactus, a student led organisation which uses the entrepreneurial skills of students to make positive change in communities.
- Consider: Is it for me?
Management Consultancy can seem appealing but it’s not all glamorous – it’s really hard work. Someone once told me that in management consulting, at times you could strike lucky and for your new project be jetting off to Madrid, but equally you could find yourself working out of a portacabin along the M4 Motorway. You go where the client is, and you have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. Hours can be very long – you’re there to deliver results and approaching project deadlines the pressure can be intense. You are likely to travel a lot and live out of a suitcase for periods of time, so consider if that suits you and the lifestyle you want. In addition, there are the academic grades – most employers will want a minimum of a 2:1 and excellent UCAS points.
- Get interested in business
Management Consultants are by nature business problem solvers. You don’t have to study a business related degree, though exposure to business concepts can be helpful. A good tip is to start following business news stories and become curious about what’s happening in different industries. If a business is underperforming, what might be causing this? What has happened in the wider industry or region which might have impacted on this? What ways out of this situation can people see?
- Apply early
Management Consulting internships and graduate schemes open for applications early, sometimes even in late summer before the start of the academic year. Sometimes jobs are advertised in spring, but these are rarer so plan to make applications in autumn and allow time – they take a lot of effort and only a great application will make the grade. There’s lots of applications advice on the website to get you started.