Taking up an internship with a consulting firm during studies can provide students with invaluable work experience. Not only does it contribute to a good-looking CV, it also helps students familiarise themselves with working in the consulting industry, and understand if that is something they want to pursue further as graduates.
Consulting is a challenging and complicated field, which provides a variety of choices for students. Those looking to enter the sector will need to determine which consulting segment is right for them, the kind of service offering they find most interesting, and also what size of consultancy meets their needs.
After this step, things get even more challenging. The competition for roles in consulting is high, as one of most popular starting sectors for graduates, and every year thousands of students send in applications for internships with one of the 400-or-so top firms in the country.
For those willing and able to navigate this process, here are five tips that can help increase the odds of landing an internship.
Students should start by determining what type of role they want to apply for. As a student, they have two different options; applying for an internship that runs parallel to classes all year, or for a dedicated summer internship while universities are closed. Both options have their pros and cons, so the final decision needs to be tailored to which of those factors best fits an individual’s needs.
On top of this, there are different varieties of internships to weigh up. Some are focused on research (possibly in combination with a thesis), while others are aimed at gaining work experience. Candidates should also consider the type of consulting segment and firm which best suit their interests, as well as factors such as what type of colleagues they will have, how they will be guided and supported, and to what extent will the experience provide them with lessons that they can build on further into their career.
To stand out from the crowd, internship candidates must impress recruiters with an excellent resume and corresponding cover letter. These basic the tools can help students through every stage of the recruitment process; including networking, applying for specific jobs, and interviewing. Fortunately, the web is filled with sample documents which can be adapted for success.
Whichever format candidate plump for in their CV, however, in every case they should always look to emphasise the educational level, experience, knowledge, and skills they have. These specifications are crucial for all consulting employers. Additionally, they need to make sure their CV is tailored and unique – copy-pasters need not apply.
Once a resume and cover letter have been prepared, candidates are best advised to start networking. The significance of this stage cannot be underestimated, as it may predetermine their employment opportunities. Why is it so important? In short, irrespective of experience in consulting, individuals have a far greater chance of landing an interview if they can get a referral from a current company’s employee.
It is also indispensable to talk to a consultant inside the company in order to gain valuable background information, and increase your chances to get a job. This means students should try to reach out to current consultants in their network if possible. If none are available, then they should take a bold move to approach one from the company’s website or via LinkedIn. Another valuable strategy is to meet firms in advance at for example career fairs or business courses hosted by them.
Consulting is known for its challenging recruitment process, and as mentioned before, competition for slots is high. Therefore, it is crucial to be well-prepared, reserved, and calm during the interview. From a preparatory perspective, study the consulting firm, its offerings and some of the projects it has worked on, as well as checking careers sites to find reviews from others who have undergone the interviewing process.
There are dozens of tools and tutorials online which can help prepare for an interview, meanwhile. A case interview is one example of such tutorial help. In general, candidates should rehearse telling their own story – including going through it in front of the mirror. This will help them keep calm during the real session. Alternatively, they could ask someone to role play an interviewer to walk-through real-life questions and answers – it will give the experience they need during the actual interview.
Arguably the most important tip of all is for candidates to be patient – because rushing things is never a good thing. Graduates typically only have one chance to come through the application rounds (as candidate profiles are stored for a few years by recruiters of consultancies) and make an impression. By taking the time to prepare, things can go a lot smoother.
Some students are natural multitaskers, and are able to juggle studying, a side job to earn a living, and the application for an internship. However, to many students still in full-time studies, this can present a challenge. For those that struggle with their time, the tip is make use of tools and services that can help speed up things
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