Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students

Nottingham Consultancy Challenge



The Nottingham Consultancy Challenge gives you the chance to gain hands-on experience of virtually managing a short-term project for a local business, organisation or charity, as part of a team.

As a participant on the Consultancy Challenge, you will: 

  • Join a small, multidisciplinary group of students working with a real-life ‘client’
  • Problem-solve and research your client’s project, randomly assigned to challenge your skills.
  • Use and enhance your virtual collaborative working skills, highly valued in today’s global economy.
  • Deliver a virtual group presentation and written report to your client and receive feedback from them on how well you met their brief.  

Your next steps

Applications for the 2024 Consultancy Challenge are now closed.

The Consultancy Challenge will open again for applications in December 2024. Please follow the Careers Service social media channels, or express your interest below for updates about work experience programmes ran by the Careers Service

Express interest

Guanzhong WANG 350x350
After reading about the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge, I felt it would be a great opportunity for my career development. I not only got a taste of consultancy but also gained useful transferable skills. More importantly, I found myself really interested in the consultancy work!

Guanzhong Wang, Finance Accounting and Management student

What do students say about it?

The appeal of the challenge was not to know who I was going to be working with forcing me to truly be adaptable, resilient and open to new ideas and angles I can learn from.

Cian McCafferty, 3rd year Culture, Languages and Area studies student

As team leader, [The Consultancy Challenge] tested my resourcefulness and ability to adapt. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning.

Andrew Navida, 1st year Computer Science student

The project I have worked on was completely new to me so that opened up my eyes to something that I have never done before. It was also unique and I am confident that the knowledge I have learnt will be able to help me connect with people in the future.

Cherie Chan, 1st year Nottingham University Business School

Ziyi Zhao, MSc Data Science student

Ziyi Zhao loved taking part in the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge as she learned more about her skills and met new people.

Be inspired by Ziyi and enhance your CV and employability.


What do organisations say about it?

I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all the support you’ve given our organisation. I think it’s been fantastic working with the University and the students have always been extremely professional.

Ben Rosser, CEO at The Pythian Club

Both groups have done an excellent job, especially given the time available, and I will be using both sets of output. They all seemed genuinely pleased to have taken part in the challenge and to have learned a lot from the practical real life example - so wins all round.

Nick Mellors, Innovation Nottinghamshire


What is the time commitment?

  • Six to eight hours per week for six weeks over the spring term.
  • Group meetings: Your success on the Consultancy Challenge will be reliant on your group’s good teamwork and collaboration, so you’ll need to be flexible and committed to finding time to meet your group once or twice each week. One of these meetings should take place on Mondays. 
  • Client meetings: In addition to group meetings, you’ll meet virtually with your client approximately once a week and spend some time working independently on skills development and project work.  
  • Three phases of the Consultancy Challenge: 
    • Week one: getting to know your group, meeting your client for the first time and researching your brief to make sure that you understand your task. 
    • Weeks two - four: work to fulfill your project brief, including meeting with your group and client. 
    • Weeks five - six: produce and deliver a group presentation along with a written report for your client 

What skills or experience do I need?

The Consultancy Challenge is open to all current students, regardless of how much experience you have. You don’t need any specific skills or technical knowledge, but a collaborative and positive attitude is important. because of the strong group work element and the links with real-life businesses that invest time in creating a project and meeting with students. 

You’ll need to be:  

  • Dedicated and reliable. The Consultancy Challenge has a strong group work element and you’ll be working with a real-life business that has invested time in creating a project and committed to meeting with you on a weekly basis. Good consultants don't let their team or client down!  

  • Collaborative. You'll need to form a cohesive team with a small group of strangers and work together to achieve a result in six weeks. You’re not on your own though, support to develop skills in communication and conflict resolution is provided on the Challenge.  

  • Proactive. This experience is designed to be a Challenge. You’ll work on a project that’s randomly assigned, so you can't rely on having pre-existing knowledge of a sector. Projects are diverse and across many sectors so specific training isn't possible; your group will need to use problem-solving skills to address your client’s needs.  

  • Independent. The Consultancy Challenge is a formative experience for many, giving you the freedom and responsibility to arrange much of the workload yourself and with your group. The exception to this is a few pre-planned meetings for availability purposes. You can ask for help at any point, and the NCC manager provides lots of input via the skills development activities, but the onus is you and your fellow students to work through the obstacles as a group and complete the Consultancy Challenge. 


What could I be doing?

Each client has selected an issue or a problem that is important to them. They may not have the time, resources or expertise to address the issue, so are looking for your insight.  

Past projects have included: 

  • seeking new market opportunities for a science company's unique technology 

  • building a community hub for an arts organisation  

  • developing a sustainability strategy for a natural health product company 

  • creating a volunteer recruitment strategy for an international charity 

Remote working 

Remote, hybrid or blended working is now common among graduate employers. To reflect today’s workplace, Spring’s Consultancy Challenge will be fully virtual, offering the following advantages:  

  • You can participate from wherever you’re based 

  • You’ll be developing and demonstrating remote-working skills that are highly relevant to any future career 

  • You’ll meet and collaborate with other students, which isn't always possible face-to-face  

  • You don’t need any pre-existing expertise or experience working remotely: if you have access to a computer with a webcam and microphone and an internet connection, you can get fully involved. 

  • There are no rooms to book or travel expenses to pay; you can collaborate with your group and your client from your home, or campus  

The NCC will be mainly delivered through Moodle, Microsoft Office 365 (including Teams) and over email, available to you via your university account. 


What will the average week look like?

Each week will involve some time spent working collaboratively, and some time spent working independently.  Each group will need to be understanding of each other’s commitments whilst also being as flexible as possible to ensure you’re able to meet and make progress.  

Your average week will look something like this: 

  • One to two group meeting(s) on a day / time that you all agree  

  • One client meeting on a day / time that you and your client agree 

  • Online communication with your group and (possibly) your client 

  • Independent project work or preparing your presentation and report 

  • Time spent on skills development activities


What support will I receive?

You will need to be proactive and independent on the Consultancy Challenge, but support is available throughout. The Careers and Employability Service help you to develop the skills you’ll need to succeed on the Challenge, and we ask clients to provide feedback on your output at the end. Support includes:  

  • Opportunity to practice giving a remote presentation before the real thing  

  • The technical side of delivering a remote presentation 

  • How to work well as a group, including managing any conflict 

  • Feedback from your client on your presentation, and how well you addressed their business need 

  • Feedback from the Careers service on your ability to reflect on your experience and translate it to your future career plans (NAA students only) 


Am I eligible?

The Consultancy Challenge is open to all current* University of Nottingham students regardless of year group or subject. 

The Consultancy Challenge typically receives more applications than there are places available. Students will be scored and ranked according to marking criteria (available with the application form). Where high numbers of applications are received, we may close the application window early and reserve the right to prioritise students who: 

  • are in their final year of study and who will not have the opportunity to reapply to this opportunity 

  • have not previously participated in the Consultancy Challenge 

*You must be a current student for the duration of the Consultancy Challenge, which runs in the Spring term 


Any questions? Contact us

Email us


Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679