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So you want to work in consulting

What is consulting, and how do you break in?

Consulting sounds like a glamorous career—but what is it really like to work in consulting? And how do get hired as a consultant? Watch the panel discussion below to get insights from a recruiter, recent grad, and early-career consulting professional. Or, scroll down to read the main takeaways from their conversation.

The panelists:

  • Amanda Singh is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Business Administration. In September, she started full-time as an Assurance Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
  • Megan Mansfield is an Early Talent Recruitment Manager at FTI Consulting. Megan’s career has been focused on campus recruitment for the past seven years.
  • Moderator: By day, JeeIn Youn is an Associate Consultant at Slalom Consulting. By night, she is a career content-creator and is passionate about helping other young professionals break into consulting.

What is consulting?

Megan: Management consulting takes up a big percentage of the industry. But there are many possibilities for entry level roles outside of management consulting. At FTI, we have 6 different business segments, including corporate finance, forensic and litigation, economics, health care, technology or strategic communications. The thing these roles have in common is that you come in to solve clients’ problems, either retroactively or proactively.

Consulting is known for having long hours. What does work-life balance look like for you?

Megan: As you go through the interview process, take a look at the core values and mission. Do they talk about work-life balance? Do they value their employees? You should also define what work-life balance means to you, so you can ask the right questions.

JeeIn: For me, 75% of my day is meeting with clients and with my team. The rest of that time, I am head down analyzing data, creating decks to present the information, planning the next stages of work, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised by my work-life balance. It can vary a lot by the type of consulting, your team, your firm’s culture. It’s smart to network with the people at firms you're interested in to get an insider look at work-life culture.

What soft and hard skills do you need to work in consulting?

Megan: You need a solid technical foundation from your college classes (skills like math, reasoning etc). A strong sense of professionalism is also really important. When you're interviewing at a consulting firm, your interviewees are thinking, Can I put this candidate in front of our clients, and will they represent this company well? Written and verbal communication skills are also key.

Also, because we have so many different types of consulting at FTI, we don’t just hire business majors. For example, for our healthcare consulting division, we are looking for candidates with backgrounds in healthcare, biology or chemistry.

JeeIn: Typically you’re expected to spend the first 6-8 months just learning. So a learner or growth mindset (being curious, asking questions) is another thing I’ve seen that’s important to senior associates.

What is the recruitment process like to work in consulting?

Megan: We offer internship positions and do use that as an important place to recruit hires. If you are new to FTI, the typical next step after submitting your application is doing a pre-recorded video interview. After that, there are several rounds of interviews with members of the team. Although we have some on-campus interviews, it’s very common to do interviews virtually. The process ends with an “interview super day” with several interviews: behavioral, technical, and a case study.

Amanda: I got the job offer after I completed my internship. My interview process was mostly virtual behavioral interviews. I practiced my interviews a lot, and I networked throughout the process. I met a recruiter through a Handshake event and I think that definitely helped me get remembered and get ahead in the interview process.

Photo courtesy of John Diez via Pexels

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