Are you interested in consulting?

At its core, consulting is about problem-solving. If you’re interested in taking a problem, breaking it down, collecting and analyzing data, devising strategies and solutions, and presenting them to clients, then consulting may be an industry worth exploring.

As you can tell from the responsibilities, the three most important skills for consultants are:

  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Organization skills
  • Communication skills

For many consulting organizations, other valuable experiences and skills include: teamwork, project management, and creative thinking. Consulting work is often done with teams across significant stretches of time on problems that require dynamic solutions.

Depending on the type of consulting you’re interested in — economic, strategy, operations, financial advisory, human resources, information technology, and more industry-specific options like educational and environmental (it’s a lot, right?) — additional knowledge and skills may be critical for success.

While a strong GPA (3.5 or above) can certainly make you more competitive, what’s equally important is engaging in academic, extracurricular, and professional experiences that allow you to develop the necessary skills.

To set yourself up for success, consider the following:

  • A strong resume → Get your resume reviewed early by Purposeful Work!
  • A strong network of alumni, friends, and connections within consulting organizations to advise and advocate for you before, during, and after the application process
  • A clear understanding of application timelines and deadlines, particularly the critical application period taking place the summer prior to and fall of your junior year
  • A comprehensive and thorough understanding of the consulting landscape, your areas of interest, and how your values, strengths, skills, and even personality lend themselves to your success in those areas of interest

Take advantage of opportunities for personal research and professional exploration.

  • Firsthand/Vault Guides are available in the Career Center: Resources section of Handshake to provide you with a basic and broad understanding of the consulting landscape. Additional research online and with individuals in the industry will provide a deeper and more dynamic understanding of what the work looks like with different types of consulting.
  • Purposeful Work offers job shadows, roadshows, spotlights, employer information sessions, and other activities that can help you figure out your interests and potential pathways that might align with those interests, while connecting you with alumni and recruiters who can offer unique insider perspectives on organizations.
  • Take the time to do the necessary research on organizations of interest. Explore organizational websites, particularly the sections on undergraduate recruitment and hiring. Express interest, participate in virtual activities, and think critically about why you’re drawn to specific organizations and their opportunities.
  • Equity and inclusion considerations: More and more organizations within the industry are focused on improving diversity and representation, particularly by recruiting more women, historically excluded minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. If these identities apply to you, watch for and connect with these efforts, initiatives, and programs.

While large consulting organizations recruit predominantly from Ivy League institutions and large research universities, they often leverage alumni from small liberal arts colleges to make connections with their alma mater. Bates has a broad network of alumni at many of the world’s largest consulting organizations, as well as at consulting organizations that vary in size, scope, industry, and focus.

  • At present, we have several alumni at Accenture focused on intern and full-time recruitment for the strategy and technology practice areas. They recruit every summer for opportunities that commence the following summer.
  • Additionally, we have significant alumni representation at Analysis Group, which engages a cohort of students in an externship program every winter and recruits a number of students as Purposeful Work interns every summer.
  • Utilizing the alumni section of the Bates College LinkedIn page, identify alumni at organizations and in roles of interest and reach out to learn more. Whether alumni are currently at organizations of interest or have been at those organizations previously, they can provide unique perspectives on their experiences and pathways. And while alumni may not be actively engaged in recruitment, they may still have connections, strategies, and wisdom that may be useful. Consider them as potential advocates, mentors, and even mock interviewers as you navigate the industry. If you’re new to networking, check out our how-to guides on making professional connections.

Many consulting organizations tend to hire full-time consultants primarily from their pool of summer interns. To ensure that you’re well-positioned for full-time offers after graduation, you must be ready to apply for intern positions by the summer before or fall of your junior year. Before you submit them, be sure to have your materials reviewed several times by the Bates Center for Purposeful Work team to ensure that they’re the strongest they can be.

Mid-size, boutique, and industry-specific consulting organizations tend to hire full-time consultants both from their pool of summer interns (if one exists — some organizations don’t hire summer interns at all) and through fall recruitment activities with rising seniors. At present, we have strong relationships with Artisan Healthcare Consulting, the Beacon Group, Business Intelligence Advisors, Cornerstone Research, and McLarty Associates.

We strongly encourage you to engage in exploration and networking activities as soon as you consider the idea of consulting as a potential career pathway. Make an appointment on Handshake with any of our business-focused advisors to get started: Hoi Ning Ngai, Beverly Vari, and Marianne Cowan.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are case interviews? Will I need to engage in them as part of my interview process?

Case interviews are an important component of the interview process for many large consulting organizations, where they are used to assess your analytical thinking and problem-solving skills in real-time with an interviewer walking you through a business problem.

If the concept of case interviews is new to you, check out the relevant Firsthand/Vault Guides available in the Career Center: Resources section of Handshake focused on case interview preparation.

To be clear, not every consulting organization uses case interviews as part of their interview process. Recruiters will generally make you aware of whether or not to expect them so that you can prepare accordingly.

Where can I find additional resources for case interview preparation?

Many consulting organizations provide guidance and support for case interview preparation on their websites. Consider Accenture’s Case Interview Workbook or Boston Consulting Group’s Preparing for Case Interviews. When you’re exploring consulting organizations and opportunities, check out what information organizations make publicly available.

Another widely used resource is Marc Cosentino’s Case in Point book. The text has gone through many iterations, but even if you purchase an older version, the content will likely be relevant and valuable. Additionally, Purposeful Work has placed several copies of the 10th edition on loan/reserve at the library for students to check out.

One of the most valuable things you can do with case interviews is practice, especially with another person who’s also working on case interview preparation. The idea isn’t to memorize frameworks for case analysis, but to actively engage with the interviewer in the process of breaking down and thinking through the problem presented to you.

Your Bates education trains you to think critically — case interviews attempt to draw out those skills by testing your application of them in real-time.