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Pursuing a Career in Consulting - Wednesday, February 24, 10 – 11 a.m. CST

Join us for a live chat with Chicago Booth current students and Career Services staff. Get your questions answered from students who are pursuing careers in strategy and consulting. Ask about the resources available to help students learn about, prepare for, and land jobs in strategy and consulting. Find out about curricular choices, school resources, student groups, peer and alumni mentorship, recruiting preparation and more. 

Chat Transcripts
Guest Question: Could you speak more about recruiting to specific groups (e.g. M&A integration, corp finance advisory groups etc.) at MBB / Deloitte Consulting / Strategy& tier firms as opposed to recruiting as a generalist to these groups.

*Janice Farrar: some of the firms recruit generalists and others will recruit for specific practices so it totally depends.

Guest Question: For someone who is currently in consulting, and who plans to return to consulting after business school, what skills does Booth develop in students that are most advantageous for a consulting career?

*Felix Heurich: I was a consultant at McKinsey prior to Booth. Despite having a BSc in Business Administration and MSc in Finance, I still benefit from the classes at Booth. The flexible curriculum allows me to focus on advanced classes from the beginning and broaden my horizon beyond my current skills including for example start-up evaluation. The school's world class faculty, including Nobel Laureate Eugene Fama, provide very interesting and relevant insights. 

Guest Question: what kind of pre-school prep I can do from now till the start of my first semester to increase my chances of getting into consulting?

* Cedric Soh: The best way to prepare is to get to understand the process of consulting recruiting in Booth. The process is generally networking, case prep and then actual interviews. To get a head start, it would be good to attend pre-MBA receptions at the offices of the firms you might want to work at. For example, I attended BCG and McKinsey's Singapore events before Booth, and it was invaluable when I decided to recruit back home.

Guest Question:  Thank you for taking the time today! As someone who is looking to switch industries and transition from investment management to strategy consulting, what are some of the obstacles that career switchers run in to? Would you recommend trying to do an internship in consulting the summer before school starts or do you think it is not necessary?

* Christy Leak: Regarding the summer, I'd suggest spending your time learning about the consulting industry and taking advantage of resources that help you better understand your interests and transferable skills.  A pre-MBA internship in consulting is absolutely not necessary.  In early June and over the summer we'll provide more resources for self-assessment and networking, and over the summer we'll host industry-specific webinars and chats which will allow you to hit the ground running in the fall.

Guest Question: Hi all, I was curious if you see consulting as a lifelong career or as a stepping stone?

* Felix Heurich: I was a consultant prior to Booth. While I believe that there is still a lot I can learn in consulting I am also looking at opportunities in other industries. Consulting can be a stepping stone to a career in for example corporate roles due to the very steep learning curve but the lifestyle can be very demanding involving a lot of travelling. I guess in the end it really depends on your personal preferences. The good thing is that you don’t need to decide in the beginning and there are great exit opportunities at every hierarchical level.

Guest Question: Coming from a non-consulting background, how can I improve my profile and chances of excelling in case studies so that I can get into strategy consulting as an intern?

* Stephen Yi: There will be a lot of opportunities at Booth between the events hosted by the Management Consulting Group, student-initiated mock interviews, and case preparation sessions by consulting firms that will help you prepare for case interviews. A lot of the case questions will deal with real life business situations, so it is helpful to develop a general understanding of the business world, as well as case preparation books if you do want to get an early start. That being said, there will be enough support once you arrive at Booth to get you well prepared in time for the interviews. 

Guest Question: hello! Thank you very much for hosting this panel. I have a couple questions about work experience prior to MBA, and how that affects job prospects in the Management Consulting industry. Namely, how do the duration of your experience and the type of your experience affect what positions will be available to you and the likelihood of getting them?

* Cedric Soh: In consulting, type of experience is probably not as important as success in those experiences. The firms want to see that you have been successful, diverse in experiences, and sociable, and these are probably more important than specific types of jobs. To me, the MBA was more or less a 'reboot', and I felt like I didn't stand a better or worse chance based on my work experiences. Focus on networking first and form strong connections, because that's what will get you the interview. From then on it's really up to you to ace the interview.

Guest Question: Hello - thanks for hosting this session. My questions are how we can find out about the specific consulting opportunities at Booth - i.e. specific functions and areas of focus etc. I am particularly interested in consulting opportunities in emerging markets.

the consulting opportunities will be listed in our system called GTS. Additionally, there will be many corporate events that will be marketing through our Career Services newsletter as well as GTS. Be assured that you will be very well informed on all opportunities!

Guest Question:  How important is it to know 100% that you want to go into consulting to be successful in the recruiting process?  Is it possible to recruit for multiple industries, or do you really need to focus on one?

* Janice Farrar: you don't have to be 100% certain of what you want to do when you get here.  About 80-85% of the class is career switchers.  You have the first 3 weeks to explore a large number of opportunities that may be of interest to you.  There are some industries that lend themselves to students recruiting for multiple like consulting and marketing or consulting and tech, etc. 

Guest Question: Hello - To the current students: What made Booth your choice to pursue your MBA in Consulting?

* Stephen Yi: there were two big reasons that made Booth particularly attractive to me for consulting. First, consulting is the biggest function/industry of choice for Booth students after MBA, meaning that there is both a very strong & supportive alumni network, as well as a very well structured recruiting process that help you in the process, for both internship and full-time hiring. Secondly, I really liked the flexibility in curriculum, which allowed me take specific courses that were relevant for a career in consulting early on in the first two quarters of my MBA. 

 Guest Question: In what unique ways do you feel Booth's program sets students up for success in consulting?

* Daniela Melgar: Booth prepares us in many different ways. We have many programs and workshops were we can strengthen our interview skills, such as “wInterview”, which is a full day of interview preparation. We also work a lot with MCG and 2nd-year students, they help us prepare for case interviews and give us constant feedback. For success in a consulting career, you can take strategy classes, such as the Strategy Lab (which is an actual consulting project) and classes that are case focused.

Guest Question: Thank you for hosting this chat! I've heard from current students saying that the MCG is the best resource to help students through recruiting. Can you give a few specific examples about the things that the club does?

* Daniela Melgar: Hello!  Yes, MCG is a great resource for recruiting. MCG organizes many events with consulting firms through the fall and winter, so we get to know them and they get to know us. They organize case-interview workshops and resume reviews. They also connect us with 2nd-year students that were previously in consulting, so we can practice with them.

Trevor: Thank you all for sharing your time for this chat today. I had 2 questions. First, does consulting develop competencies transferrable to a more traditional corporate role (ie. project management in a services company) subsequently? And second, to what extent does consulting focus on strategic changes but not necessarily operational implementation?

* Fern O’Neill: consulting absolutely develops transferrable skills relevant to corporate roles. In fact, many students who land consulting roles transition into various corporate roles after 3-5 years. The management consulting firms offer a wide range of projects, however, most will be strategic in nature. Some consulting firms have implementation practices, but those roles are recruited separate from the strategy practice.

Guest Question: Hi I’m John. I study at Leiden University in the Netherlands and I am planning on applying to Booth next year as an early career candidate. Maybe you can give me some advice on which round I should submit my application. I will complete my bachelors in only 3 years so I will only have taken so many courses by next fall. It makes sense to me that apply in round 3 so that the admissions team has more material to base their decision on. What do you think?

* Kim Masessa:  Nice to meet you! I’m glad to hear you are interested in applying to Booth next year. You should apply for the round in which you feel most ready and comfortable. As you mentioned, it is best to have as much material as possible so that we are able to look at your application from a holistic prospective.

Guest Question: What activities should a 1st year at Booth do to improve his/her chances of getting into top 3 consulting firm?

* Felix Heurich: I don't think that there is a clear path to get into the top 3 firms that you need to follow. The Boothies that got offers have a very diverse background and approached consulting in many different ways. From my perspective it is a good first step to join the Management Consulting Group since they offer a lot of events and networking opportunities helping you to in recruiting process. Apart from that you could try to focus on consulting related classes for example Competitive Strategy. Further, your classmates, especially former consultants, provide great resources to get a better understanding of the work of management consulting firms.

Guest Question: What has been your favorite class at Booth and why?

* Stephen Yi: My favorite class at Booth so far was advanced microeconomics. I took a few economics courses in my undergrad, but found that the experiences at Booth were quite different in that the course here focused a lot more on developing a problem-solving mindset and applying the tools that you learn in class in a scenario-based setting, rather than just learning the concepts. Personally, I liked the rigor and the intellectual challenge of the course - that's one thing I looked for when I joined Booth, and I'm glad I was able to find it. At the same time, you can select different levels of difficulty for the courses, so if that is not something that appeals to you, you can make your own choices as well.

Guest Question: I have a question for current students - have any of you reached out to alumni for mentorship?

* Cedric Soh: In my recruiting process, I have reached out to a McKinsey consultant who I knew beforehand. She guided me in case prep and interview prep, and that paid off dividends. The alumni community in Booth is really strong, and the vast majority of alumni, whatever their positions or seniority, are more than happy to help you. In my case, we spent a significant amount of time prepping for cases and talking about consulting in general. It definitely paid off and I landed the offer that I wanted!

Guest Question: Hi everyone this is Mengchu. My question is a general one. I was wondering for someone who has no prior experience in consulting at all, what school resources and classes I should pursue in my first two quarters to prepare for recruiting? Thanks!

* Fern O’Neill: consulting firms are very open to career changers! We will offer extensive preparation tools and programs over the summer to help you prepare early for career recruiting once you get to campus. In terms of classes, you can take: competitive strategies, marketing strategy, and operations management would be great classes to take.

Guest Question: I have a question for Fern, I'm an incoming MBA student. I would like your thoughts/advice on getting a pre-MBA internship and if the career service can provide any resource on it.

* Fern O’Neill: Quite a few consulting firms provide early opportunities to learn about consulting prior to arriving on campus. You will be able to find information about these opportunities through the admit student website later in the spring/summer. While these pre-MBA internships can be very informative, we don't believe that they are necessary. There will be many opportunities once you get to campus to learn about consulting and get to know alumni and firm representatives.

Guest Question: Hi, first thanks for hosting this live chat session. I have a question related to career switch. Currently I am in corporate finance and want to transition to consulting/IB via a MBA program. Could any one of you please share any insights on this plz? Thanks

* Felix Heurich: Hi, consulting and investment banking are classic post MBA careers. Last year nearly 130 Boothies received internships and 154 students joined consulting firms full-time. In general there is no clear-cut profile that consulting firms or banks are looking for. I have friends who were teachers, military officers or programmers switching to consulting.

Guest Question: I'm interested in doing an internship/post-MBA role at McK, Bain, or BCG - how would you suggest I make the most of this summer in order to enhance my candidacy for those firms?

* Fern O’Neill: I suggest that you get really clear about the skills and experiences you bring to consulting and have strong story to tell. We will provide a great deal of support over the summer to help you get ready for the recruiting process. There will also be pre-MBA receptions offered by a number of the top firms that you can pursue. There will be information provided on the admitted student website later this spring about those opportunities.

Guest Question: Good morning and thank you for hosting the panel. For any of the current students, can you describe what resources Booth has to help you with the consulting recruiting process? Are there formal networking events or case preps?

* Cedric Soh: There are a ton of resources in that aspect. There are Lunch and Learns, Career Conversations and a whole host of networking events hosted both by Career Services and the Management Consulting Group. There are also clubs that focus on a certain area, such as the Armed Forces Group, whose consulting arm focuses on preparation for veterans who plan to enter consulting. All in all, there are more resources than you would ever need! Other resources include resume reviews, cover letter reviews, interview prep for behavioral questions, case prep, 2nd years, etc.

Guest Question: Good morning! Coming from a non-business background (military in my case), what would you recommend for students trying to assess consulting as a possible future career?

* Stephen Yi: I would say that the most important consideration should be understanding why you want to do consulting after MBA. That means you should develop a good understanding of the industry and whether you are a right fit for the specific firms to which you will be applying. If that makes sense to you, veterans have a strong network at most major consulting firms, and firms host events that are dedicated for people from military background. So there are resources that you can leverage that will help you make those decisions over the summer and once you are at Booth.

Guest Question: Good morning. Can you speak to the various ways Booth's curriculum, career center and/or clubs have prepared you for consulting recruiting?

* Cedric Soh: Career Services has been a tremendous help, in addition to the two other clubs that I was involved in, namely the Armed Forces Group and Management Consulting Group. Career Services taught me the basics of networking, how to do up a great resume and cover letter, and a whole lot of soft skills that classes don't teach you. The AFG and MCG helped me in case prep and making sure that my timeline was on track, as well as supplying a great number of 2Ys who took their own time to do cases with me. Curriculum really depends, if you are from a non-business background, you would find that the classes help you in answering business-oriented case questions. I came from a strong business background and found that curriculum wasn't as big a factor as career services and clubs.

Guest Question: Are most consulting placements in the Midwest? And, if you're interested in working on the East/West coasts, is there a certain recruitment strategy you need to take?

* Christy Leak:  Students head to offices around the world.  Chicago is certainly well-represented and the largest destination, but for full-time last year over 10 students landed in offices such as New York and San Francisco.  While the large consulting firms have recruiting processes that are run out of Chicago, recruiters will work with you to learn more about your specific location preferences. 

Guest Question: What resources did you take advantage of at Booth to prepare for pursuing a career in consulting? Did something in your past experience help shape that choice?

* Stephen Yi: I worked in professional services before Booth, so that helped me develop a good understanding of the industry before even getting to MBA. At Booth, MCG events were very helpful in getting to know more about the firms and the specific career paths within consulting I see myself in the future. Business Solutions Group was very helpful in getting a real-life business case experience in a pro-bono setting for me that helped me build a stronger case for why I wanted to do consulting.

Guest Question: How well does the coursework at Booth prepare you for a consulting career?

* Cedric Soh: It definitely helps you prepare well, if you come from a non-traditional background, because it puts things in a business context, which is essentially what consulting is about. If you have a strong business background, it may not help as much, but it would help you build depth in whichever areas that you plan to focus on.

Guest Question:  Are there any events (other than recruitment events) that the Management Consulting group organizes for students interested in Consulting?

* Stephen Yi: MCG organizes a lot of events that are helpful for students interested in consulting - there are "breakfast-and-learns" and "lunch-and-learns" to help students learn more about particular topics in consulting, connecting with second year students, resume review sessions, mock interviews, and industry overviews to help you learn more about specific industries that you might be asked in case interviews.

Guest Question: Can I recruit to international offices (London, Singapore etc.) of these consulting firms from Booth. What resources does Booth offer for that and what are the challenges to such recruiting.

* Christy Leak:  Many students at Booth conduct searches for international offices.  I did a quick check of last year's employment report and while we don't have any students going to Singapore for full-time, we do have a handful of students going to London for consulting.  Most firms will speak to their international recruiting process at their fall recruiting events.  You'll have many opportunities to engage with consultants who are based in the US, and they'll help connect you with their international colleagues. 

Guest Question: What is the current level of competition for consulting jobs? Is it increasing?

* Christy Leak: I wouldn't say competition is increasing, but it's a very competitive industry, especially because firms tend to be more selective when hiring interns.  Last year nearly 120 students interned in consulting, while many more go into consulting full-time.  Over 200 students at Booth are members of the Management Consulting Group (MCG). 

Guest Question: Hello, I just wanted to start off by thanking you all for taking the time to host this session. My question revolves around the approach that Booth takes when it comes to preparation for consulting. I know that Booth values using big data and taking a very analytical approach to problem solving. Do you see this reflected greatly in Booth's consulting preparation? How are some of the soft skills such as public speaking, relationship building, and team cohesiveness handled in the academic approach? Thank You

* Cedric Soh: I would say that the analytical approach still applies. In other words, you need to be very structured in the way you answer, but I don't believe that this is part of Booth's culture. It's probably just an expectation of the consulting firms. That being said, the fact that Booth focuses on an analytical approach certainly helps put your mind in the right place! Public speaking, relationship building and cohesiveness are well handled by programming through LEAD, Career Services and the fact that the community here is simply awesome and more than willing to help.

Guest Question:  Any other recommendations for how to prepare in summer before school?

* Daniela Melgar: You can prepare in many ways. From an academic view, there are lots of resources in the admitted website if you want to refresh some skills. From a personal view, I would recommend moving to Chicago soon so you can enjoy the summer here and adapt to your new home! You can also start researching about classes and events that run through the first year.

Guest Question: Hello, are there electives available at Booth that expose students to the knowledge and skills needed in different fields of consulting (M&A, Healthcare, etc)?

* Christy Leak: Our flexible curriculum is great at giving students the opportunity to explore different areas.  We do have M&A offerings, and some of our lab classes (strategy lab, management lab) give students hands on experience with either consulting or industry-specific projects. 

Guest Question: I am curious to the difference, if any, in the recruitment process for Consulting for summer internships as a first year versus full-time employment as a second year?

* Cedric Soh: I can think of a few differences: (1) Timeline: The summer recruitment process takes place from September to December, with interviews happening throughout January to mid-Feb. As a second year, recruiting takes place the moment you come back (September to October). (2) Networking: For many candidates seeking to switch firms, they have already made connections with the other firms, and so it's a rather simple process of sending in your resume again (updated with your internship experience). For others seeking to switch careers, more networking is required and people have to start earlier. (3) Spots: Summer internships are more competitive in the sense that there are simply less spots for the summer, and more for full time employment. People who make it to Round 2 of the interviews and barely miss the mark are sometimes given a direct Round 2 interview for full-time recruiting.

Guest Question: Thanks, Felix. Are you also in the consulting club? If so, what main benefits do you get from that club?

* Felix Heurich: I am actually not part of the consulting club since it is mainly focused on recruiting and networking in consulting. Many of my class mates who are aspiring a career in that industry highly benefitted from the events offered. I rather focused on clubs outside of consulting to get insights in other industries that I am interested in. I for example just was elected Co-Chair of the Private Equity Group

Guest Question: Generally speaking, what level of consultant can be reached after graduation from Booth. (as far as i know, they have associate, analysist in Mckinsey)

* Janice Farrar: the titles vary a little bit by firm, but basically you're hired as a summer associate for your internship and then an associate when you join the firm full-time.

Guest Question: Hi Cedric, as a follow-up to Deepika's question, are these pre-MBA receptions open to all students? How would we be aware of them?

* Cedric Soh: I can't exactly answer this question, because the firms reached out to me. I'm not sure how they were aware that I was going to my MBA program! However, I definitely suggest that you drop an email to the firms at their public email address and inform them that you are going to school for your MBA, and are looking at consulting as a potential career. That would probably put you on their radar at the very least!

Guest Question:  Question for Stephen Yi: As an international student, did you face any challenges in the recruiting process, are you aiming to remain in the US post-graduation?

* Stephen Yi: I am an international student who will be staying in U.S. for my summer internship in consulting (and am planning to stay here post-graduation). There are certainly challenges in the process since developing meaningful relationships and demonstrating that you are a good cultural fit to the American firm are important in finding a placement. For some other international students, the command of English can also be a challenge. That being said, the firms look for best talent, and many international students at Booth have been successful in consulting recruiting, both for offices in their home countries and in the U.S.

Guest Question: How much access to second year students do first years have to prepare for case interviews?  Is there a limit on the number of practice case interviews?

* Cedric Soh: You have so much access to the second years! The clubs make their second years available through the year. There's no hard system or limit at all, if you have personal contacts with second years (and you definitely will), you can do as much case prep as they are willing to. Once in a while there are formal case prep sessions, and the limit for that was 2 per person. In total though, I did about 40 cases with more than 10 2Ys and it was definitely more than enough. I guarantee you won't run out of Y2s to prep with.

Guest Question: Have you seen any part-time students transition to from industry into consulting (specifically from the finance field to a role at MBB)?

* Cedric Soh: I have actually seen a specific case of an evening student who got a role at MBB. However, keep in mind that as a part-time student you will definitely miss out on a great number of networking opportunities, case prep, etc, simply because schedules don't meet and the level of interaction is lower. That being said, if you focus on networking and building a community to help you, it is definitely possible, but you should be realistic about the fact that the level of effort you have to put in is exponentially more.

Guest Question: What roles/positions do MBA graduates usually apply for at consulting firms after graduation?

* Kim Masessa: There are a variety of positions MBA graduates apply to such as Management Consulting roles (Associate, Senior Business Analyst, Manger, etc.) at global or boutique firms, in addition to Corporate Strategy and Internal Strategy roles within large corporations.

Guest Question: What are the typical tools and resources that are provided by college to increase the skills needed to succeed as a management consultant?

* Fern O’Neill: besides the many fantastic courses offered by Chicago Booth, there are many programs and resources offered through Career Services and the Management Consulting student group that help students prepare to succeed in management consulting.

Guest Question: What is the role of second year students when helping first year prepare their applications?

* Daniela Melgar: Second year students are one of the best resources at Booth. The collaborative environment is very helpful specially through recruiting. Second year students help first year students with resume and cover letter reviews and case interview preparation. In case they had an internship in a consulting firm, they are also a great resource because they share their summer experience and connect first year students with people from their summer firm.

Guest Question: Hi all, first thanks for hosting this. I do appreciate it. My question is for Felix. As someone who is in consulting currently, I am curious to learn about how you approached the timing question...how did you know the timing was right for you to apply? I am sold on the merits of business school in benefiting a post-business school career in consulting, but the timing of the educational experience is something I am struggling with.