Management consulting internships give graduates and students a fantastic insight into consulting. What’s more, they can be extremely useful for networking. Vitally, a management consulting internship can help you develop all-important business awareness and project experience; attributes which are high on the list when recruiters are looking for suitable candidates.
What do management consulting internships involve?
Summer management consulting internship programmes usually last between six and 12 weeks. Internship programmes are usually for penultimate year university students or graduates, but a management consultancy might have a summer programme for MBA or master’s students too.
There are some shorter consulting internship schemes (usually lasting one to two weeks) for first year university students, but these are only really offered by very big companies like KPMG.
Interns usually have an introductory week of training before being assigned a project to work on. Day-to-day activities might involve: collecting data, conducting research or giving presentations. Interns might be tasked with building a business case or assigned a very small part of the project to take the lead on. The tasks should help you to develop aptitudes such as analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
How do I apply for management consulting internships?
With rising popularity and a small number of internship opportunities, competition is incredibly fierce for places. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail to land a place, so expect tough graduate job-style recruitment processes.
The application deadlines for most of the programmes are usually in January, but some close in November. It’s a long recruitment process but, as many firms see the summer programme as an extended interview for the graduate programme, it’s well worth the effort.
You should spend time on your applications, making sure you demonstrate the skills and qualities the employer is looking for, such as commercial awareness, enthusiasm, and genuine interest in the profession. The application process might involve an online application form, online tests, interviews and an assessment centre.
Since not all management consultancies offer structured internship programmes, it’s also worth sending off speculative applications to the firms that don’t, enquiring about possible work experience or shadowing opportunities.
Getting work experience in different types of management consultancies will also help you develop a sense of the type of consultancy you want to work in and the area you are most interested in. Crucially, it’ll help you decide whether or not a particular consultancy is right for you.
How can I impress during my management consulting internship?
Impressing the management consultancy doesn’t stop after the application process; you’ll want to knock their socks off during your internship too. It’s incredibly important that you try to get as much as possible out of the opportunity and demonstrate interest in the work, the business and the people.
Ask questions, show initiative and be the first to put yourself forward for opportunities. After all, it’s not just aptitude for the work that they’ll be looking for. You should also be receptive to feedback and identify areas or skills that you feel you need to work on. Who knows, if you really impress, you might get offered a place on the graduate programme.
What if I don’t get on a management consulting internship programme?
It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t get a management consulting internship. One of the most important things, especially for strategic consultants, is that you have strong commercial awareness. So if you don’t get work experience directly with a management consultancy, it’s definitely worth pursuing other commercial internship opportunities.
Management consultants work on projects in a wide range of industries, so an internship in another sector is likely to be valuable. You might also consider getting an internship with other client-facing professional services firms.
You’ll need to be able to demonstrate business or project experience. Many firms look for evidence of entrepreneurial activity. This might involve setting up your own on-campus micro business, running a successful society, or organising a big event at university. Otherwise, you might want to look into volunteering, temping to gain real work experience, or getting involved in local community activities.
Which companies offer management consulting internships?
Here’s a list of firms currently offering management consulting internships:
Arthur D. Little
Bain & Company
McKinsey & Company
OC&C Strategy Consultants
PA Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group