Consultancy is a popular career option for many students, but do you know what it entails?
Consultancy is a field that offers opportunities to work in a variety of industries and settings, from strategy and operations to more specialised consulting areas such as technology, supply chain, finance or HR amongst others. Consultancy is open to students from all degree backgrounds. As a management consultant, you will essentially be working with businesses to improve their performance by identifying problems and giving expert advice to solve problems and drive growth.
What does a consultant do? Includes podcast
As a consultant, you are employed to help organisations solve issues, help create value and maximise profitability, management and strategy. You’ll improve business processes and identify growth opportunities. Consulting is a sociable profession that allows you to work across different areas and offers plenty of time for networking opportunities.
As a consultant you could work on projects that involve, introducing a new IT system to streamline business processes, improving supply chain processes to save money or increase sustainability, identifying ways to reduce staff turnover or helping an organisation to determine a new strategic direction. You could be analysing statistics, conducting market research to gain a better understanding of the business or implementing new procedures.
A 17- minute podcast brought to you by Jen Balloch, Employability Officer.
Jen is joined by Gemma Morgan-Jones who shares her insights into the world of consultancy.
Gemma talks about her experience of being a consultant and working with consultants to deliver on projects.
They discuss the attributes of successful consultants and how to gain experience while you're at university.
What does the future look like for consultancy?
Who employs management consultants?
To consider the best employers for you, you will need to take some time to research the different types of consultancy that are available. Management consultancy is used as a catch-all phrase but you may be more suited to a specialised area such as human resources (HR) or supply chain.
Consultants tend to work in one of the following:
- Large consultancy firms – these offer full-service end to end solutions to their clients and include Accenture, Oliver Wyman, AT Kearney and McKinsey. The big four professional service firms (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC) all have a management consulting division as well
- Mid-sized boutique or niche firms – these offer specialist services and expertise. They will often focus on a specific function such as finance, HR, marketing or sustainability, or focus on an industry sector or client type (for example, public sector, manufacturing or education sector)
- In-house consulting divisions – these are found in many large corporate organisations such as Google, IBM and Citibank
What roles are available within management consultancy?
The management consultancy profile on the Prospects website and TARGETJobs consultancy pages give more detailed information and an overview of the roles and responsibilities.
The typical graduate entry role is an analyst or business analyst working within a team on a variety of projects to develop professional skills.
Specialised consultancy areas include:
- Strategy consultant – gives strategic advice to companies on projects such as market entry, long-range planning and rationalisation of goods and services
- Economic consultant – applies techniques of economic analysis to help businesses, regulators and policymakers evaluate and implement strategic decisions
- Financial consultant – offers financial advice, including the installation of budgetary control systems, profile planning and capital and revenue budgeting
- Human resource consultant – offers specialist HR advice, for example in organisational restructuring, talent and reward strategies
- Healthcare consultant – advises public and private healthcare companies, pharmaceutical organisations, government and international organisations about their business plans, strategies and policies.
What are the entry routes into management consultancy?
Consultancy roles are open to graduates from any degree background, although a degree which is numerical or analytical can be an advantage. A 2.1 is generally the minimum degree grade required for entry to a graduate scheme
Entry routes and recruitment process
For larger consultancies, professional services firms and corporates entry is usually through a structured graduate training scheme, with application deadlines as early as October or November for opportunities starting the following summer or autumn. Applications also open early, for some employers this can be in July or August and could close in December. Applications are usually accepted on a rolling basis, this means if you leave your application until the deadline there may be no vacancies left to fill as roles are filled throughout the process. It's advised to apply as early as possible.
For smaller employers such as boutique consultancies, recruitment may take place as and when needed. Networking here is hugely valuable. Don’t discount working for a smaller consultancy, you may gain more responsibility faster in a range of interesting projects.
If you have visa restrictions, an early application is advised to allow organisations to go through the necessary administrative processes.
We organise a Management, Consulting and Finance Fair each autumn term and it is a great opportunity to speak to employers face-to-face from your first year onwards.
Many employers within this field are open to hearing from people who have a degree in a subject such as business studies, finance, maths and science. But are also open to people who have other degree disciplines.
Find out about our recruitment fairs including the employers attending
Entry is likely to be a highly competitive process so relevant work experience will be beneficial. You can apply for Insight or Spring weeks during your first year and summer internships between penultimate and final year of your degree.
Business experience will help you to demonstrate your knowledge of an industry sector, some commercial awareness and how particular organisations are structured.
Consultancy firms will look for experiences that have involved working in a team, working in a client-facing environment, commercial awareness and organisational skills.
Forage is an online platform providing free access to virtual experience programmes with world leading companies. The virtual experience programmes let you sample ‘life-like’ tasks that provide a better understanding of what it’s like to be a junior employee at that company. They take five or six hours to complete and are self paced.
Please be aware that study abroad, compulsory year abroad, optional placements/internships and integrated year in industry opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities or placement/industry hosts, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university's control. Every effort will be made to update this information as quickly as possible should a change occur.
Get involved at Nottingham
As well as internships you can gain relevant experience through part-time work, volunteering, clubs and society participation and extracurricular activities such as:
Student-led organisation and Students' Union societies
Where do I look for vacancies?
What specific recruitment advice is relevant to this area of work?
Management consultancy is a challenging but rewarding career that aims to support other businesses. It’s a great career choice for gaining work experience and is sometimes the steppingstone into other corporate environments.
You may want to consider internships in industry or investment banking as there is a significant overlap between the skills that you gain within these sectors that employers value.
When it comes to your CV, you could consider adding a section on leadership. This is an opportunity for you to highlight your budget management, stakeholder management, project leadership experience and skills, and how they made an impact.