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Consulting

The information below provides an overview of the consulting industry. The intent is to provide you with a path for reaching your career goals. Consider this a step-by-step guide that can be used as a starting point for a career in consulting. 

View or print our industry calendar to see a full list of industry-specific programs and events, general workshops, and helpful tips!

Consulting Calendar

What is Consulting?

Consultants provide professional expertise in areas such as management, government, accounting, marketing, human resources, and public and media relations. Today, the consulting industry has expanded to include almost every possible aspect of industry—from environmental and healthcare consulting, to social media, politics, information technology and corporate communications. Consultants assess and solve business problems, and are hired by companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that need expertise, new perspectives, and advice on best practices. Some consultants and firms focus on specific industry areas, like financial services, while others dispense advice on a variety of issues, including top-level executive strategy, hiring and recruiting, marketing, and budget management. Some consulting firms only advise and recommend solutions to business problems, while others implement solutions and maintain long-term contracts to operate and manage them.

Consulting firms have one thing in common: they are built on the talents of their people. The “product” produced by consulting firms is the intellectual, analysis, and problem-solving horsepower of their employees. As a consultant, you become that product firms market to prospective clients.

Public sector consultants work for government clients such as the Navy, Department of Defense, or Department of Education, assisting them with projects.

Private sector or commercial consultants work for private sector clients, such as retailers, energy companies, or other corporate entities.

Non-profit and social impact consultants focus on client organizations’ mission, growth, economic sustainability, use of technology, grant writing, and outcomes. Positions in non-profit consulting can be hard to come by early in your career.

As a consultant your work schedule generally follows the workweek of your clients’, with around 9-10 hours on site. A lot of people do work through the night from the firm’s office or at home to turn around deliverables on tight schedules. Many firms require travel to client sites Monday-Thursday followed by work from the home office on Friday.

Skill Set

You will need a bachelor's degree, and employers are open to most majors including business. Graduates of liberal arts schools tend to do well in consulting because of the critical thinking skills developed throughout their curriculum. Completion of at least one internship is highly recommended.

Along with your education to be successful in the consulting industry you will need the following skills and abilities:

  • Intellectual Capacity & Analytical Skills: There is a strong correlation between academic curiosity and enjoying consulting work, and consulting firms hire for intellectual horsepower and logical reasoning skills- the ability to break down a problem, test, and solve it.
  • Working Well in Teams: Consultants rarely work alone; they work frequently with other consultants and employees at the client organization. Interpersonal skills are critical.
  • Multitasking: Consultants are often staffed on multiple projects at the same time, though this varies among firms. Organizational skills and the ability to prioritize are necessary.
  • Quantitative Ability: You don’t need to be a math major, but you should be comfortable with numbers, figures, and programs like MS Excel and Access.
  • Work Ethic: In order to fulfill or exceed client expectations, consulting projects often require significant amounts of work time outside of a traditional 40-hour work week to meet project deadlines.
Internships

Many large consulting firms have summer internship programs, which are highly effective forms of recruiting. High performing interns often receive offers to join the firm on a full-time basis after graduation. Some firms offer short-term (2-3 days to a week) summer leadership experiences for students to become acquainted with the firm early in the career process, after sophomore year. These opportunities are rare, however, in the consulting industry. Consulting industry internships can be limited in quantity as well so don’t despair if you can’t obtain an internship specifically in the industry. Many consulting firms look for experiences you have gained through other internships, global experiences, or research.

Entry Level Full-Time Opportunities

Most first-year consultants begin as analysts, consultants, business advisors, or occasionally, associates. First-year analysts or consultants play a key role in gathering data, contributing to the team’s final recommendations, and presenting their work to senior client executives.

Salary Expectations

Salaries vary depending on the sector, the organization, the geographic region, and the skill of the candidate. Click here to view the National Association of Colleges and Employers salary resources. There is not much room for salary negotiation at the entry-point of any career path, and most companies have benchmarked salaries with their competitors. Consulting employers often offer signing bonuses along with the annual salary.

Recruiting Timeline

If you are interested in consulting, you should seek a summer externship experience (if available) with a target firm upon completion of your sophomore year and a summer internship after your junior year. It is very important that you make a favorable impression during these experiences, as externships often lead to internship offers, and internships often lead to full-time offers. Many firms conduct On Campus Recruiting (OCR), interviewing and hiring candidates while working with Career Services. Intern and Extern recruiting occurs during early spring semester of sophomore and junior year, while full time recruiting occurs early in the fall semester of senior year. Many consulting firms conduct information sessions and/or hold office hours on campus and attend Career Expos. Recruiters keep track of attendance at these events and give preference to those students who attend all of their sessions.

Interviewing Process

The interviewing process involves a combination of behavioral screening interviews followed by case style interviews. You will most likely go through many rounds starting with phone or Skype interviews followed by an interview day on-site at the hiring organization.

Case interviewing is a critical skill for landing a consulting job and involves the interviewer providing you with a business problem or case. The interviewer is looking to you to provide recommendations, and your response should show her/him your understanding of business concepts, your analytical and critical thinking skills, your creativity, and your communication skills. Practice is the key to your success. Most competitive candidates will work their way through an average of 20-30 practice cases before the interview.

Many of the top consulting organizations are known for their rigorous interviewing process, so it is important that you use resources like glassdoor.com to research and prepare for the interview process. UR Career Services can provide you with interview preparation tools and mock interviews to help you prepare for the interview process.

Campus Resources for a Career in Consulting

*Some resources have eligibility requirements.  Review program websites or contact the program directly for details.

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Explore

Alpha Kappa Psi

X

X

X

X

Delta Sigma Pi

X

X

X

X

Alumni Informational Interviews

X

X

X

Wellness 090: Career Exploration

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare

Resume Review Workshop

X

X

 

 

Mock Interview/Interview Workshop

X

X

X

 

Case Interview Workshop & Training Series

 

X

X

Evening of Etiquette

X

X

X

Internship/Externship

X

X

Company Information Sessions

X

X

X

Wellness 090: Life & Career After UR

 

X

X

Connect

Q-Camp

X

On-Campus Interviews

X

X

X

Spiders in Consulting Road Trip

X

X

X

Robins Mentoring Program

X

X

X

UR Career Expos

X

X

X

X

Campus Resources for a Career in Consulting-Defined

Alpha Kappa Psi
The original co-ed business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi is a unique, prestigious association of students, professors, graduates and professionals with common interests and goals. Join Alpha Kappa Psi to take advantage of valuable educational, friendship and networking opportunities.

Alumni Informational Interviews
Most UR alumni are willing to talk with you and share insights about their industry and career path via informational interviews.  After meeting alumni at career and networking events, you can reach out to alumni directly to schedule a 30 minute informational interview.  You can also meet alumni via the Alumni Informational Interview Program.  The program is designed to invite a group of University of Richmond alumni to share the Richmond experience with applicants in target cities throughout the country.

Case Interview Workshops and Training Series
Case interviews are becoming increasingly common for job and internship applicants, particularly in the consulting industry, and require significant practice and preparation. Career Services offers case interview workshops, mock case interviews and the three-part Case Interview Training Series program designed to provide hands-on experience and preparation. These workshops and programs will help you understand different types of cases and will provide practice solving them with peers, Career Services staff, and faculty.

Company Information Sessions
Many of UR’s partner organizations provide Company Information Sessions on campus.  In these sessions, company representatives will provide an overview of their organization and describe internships and jobs for students and recent graduates.  These sessions are a great way for you to learn about a company, job function, and industry and allow you the opportunity to ask questions and network with professionals. 

Delta Sigma Pi
Delta Sigma Pi is a professional fraternity organized to foster the study of business in universities; to encourage scholarship, social activity and the association of students for their mutual advancement by research and practice; to promote closer affiliation between the commercial world and students of commerce, and to further a higher standard of commercial ethics and culture and the civic and commercial welfare of the community.

Evening of Etiquette
Network with UR alumni to learn how to make a good impression during a business meal. Practice your networking skills as you learn to engage someone in conversation, and yes, even use the correct fork. 

Externship/Internship
Internships are opportunities for you to gain hands-on experience in an occupation or profession of interest to you.  Internships are usually 8-10 week experiences during the summer of your junior year, and can be paid or unpaid.  Externships are often shorter term experiences during the summer of your sophomore year where you may be learning about an organization or industry. Both experiences and are a good way for you to try out different industries and job functions.

Lakeside Consulting Group
University of Richmond's student-run consulting group.

Mock Interview/Interview Workshops
Prepare for the interview process by attending a Career Services sponsored interviewing workshop, where you will hear about the interview process and learn tactics for excelling in a behavioral interview.  Schedule a one-on-one mock interview with a career advisor to practice your interview skills. 

On-Campus Interviews (Recruiting)
Many of UR’s partner organizations conduct interviews for externships, internships, and full-time jobs on campus via Career Services.  These opportunities are posted by the employers on SpiderConnect, where you will apply for the job, and if selected, schedule an interview. 

Q-Camp
Q-camp, named for Paul B. Queally, R'86, is designed to introduce undergraduate students to practical, real-world exercises in professional and career skills.  Held off-campus in a nearby conference center, a small, select group of sophomore business students will experience first-hand the social and professional interactions you will face as you enter the 21st century workforce.

Resume Review Workshops
UR Career Services holds workshops where you can learn about the basics of resume writing and get your resumes reviewed by peer advisors and career advisers.

Robins Mentoring Program 
A group of about 50 senior executives works directly with the Robins School’s deans, faculty and students. The backgrounds of these executives include investment banking, consulting, manufacturing, consumer goods, real estate development, hospitality/hotels, small business, accounting and much more. Serving as student mentors, EAC council members help you by:  Meeting one-on-one with students to provide general career coaching and advice, assisting in outlining a job search strategy, sharing real world experiences that have impacted his/her career.

Career Expos
The Spider Career Expos allow students and alumni to connect with full-time and internship opportunities. Approximately 50 organizations and more than 300 students attend annually. The expos are open to students in all majors and class years.

Wellness 090: Career Exploration
Students who complete Career Exploration will learn about and practice using Career Services resources, in person and online; develop self-awareness through use of personality and values assessment tools; gain the skills necessary to create well-written resumes and cover letters; learn the basics of using LinkedIn; complete an informational interview with a professional working in an industry of interest; and develop strategies for considering and selecting a major(s).

Wellness 090: Life & Career After UR
Students who complete Life and Careers will: learn about and practice using Career Services tools and resources, in person and online; increase self-awareness through occupational and values assessment exercises; obtain the skills necessary to create tailored, well-written resumes and cover letters; learn strategies for maximizing use of LinkedIn to manage a professional network; and complete an out-of-class career development exercise relevant to career goals and needs.

Consulting Events

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