Management consulting is very popular and extremely tough to get into. Aside from very strong academic credentials, you’ll need to pull out all the stops to get onto a management consulting graduate scheme, and top of your list should be getting work experience. So where can you find management consulting work experience?
Structured internship programmes…
Compared to other sectors like investment banking and law, management consulting internships are pretty thin on the ground. With the industry rising in popularity and only a small selection of internship opportunities available, a spot on a management consulting internship programme is highly sought after. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail to land a place, so expect tough graduate job-style recruitment processes.
Summer management consulting internship programmes usually last between six and 12 weeks. The deadline for applications for most of the programmes is usually 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 worth the effort.
Internship programmes are usually for penultimate year university students, but a management consultancy might have a summer programme for MBA or master’s students too. There are some shorter 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.
Management consultancy placements…
Yearlong consultancy placements are an even rarer beast. Only a select few companies offer them, such as PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EC Harris. It probably won’t surprise you to know that competition for a place on one of these schemes is intense. Just saying.
No internship programme?
Not all management consultancies run internship programmes. However, it’s still worth sending off a speculative application enquiring about possible work experience or shadowing opportunities. After all, you might prefer the culture in a smaller, boutique management consultancy.
If you don’t get a place on a management consulting work experience scheme in your penultimate year, don’t despair. There are actually more graduate places than there are internships. So what are your other options?
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 business-focused work experience opportunities.
Management consultants work on projects in a wide range of industries, so work experience in one of these is likely to be valuable. You might also want to look into getting work experience 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 management consultancies offer work experience opportunities?
Here’s a list of firms currently offering management consulting work experience:
Arthur D. Little
Bain & Company
McKinsey & Company
OC&C Strategy Consultants
PA Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group