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Pursuing a Career in Strategy & Consulting

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 Transcript 

Guest: What does it take for a software developer to break into consulting? What avenues in consulting especially suit a techie?

* Heather Packo: Great question, and thanks for joining the chat today. Many students entering the recruiting process for consulting come from non-consulting backgrounds. When it comes to viewing opportunities suited to a "techie," many students target firms with clients in the tech space. When you arrive to campus in fall, you will have a variety of opportunities to network with companies and develop your story in order to determine the best fit of company for you.


Guest: For students recruiting for consulting, I have been told that a great deal of advice and advising comes from the 2nd year students. What role does career services play and how do they complement your peer resources?

* Belen Bazano: That is a great question! We are very proud of how committed 2Ys are and how they pay-it-forward by guiding 1Ys with recruiting. Career Services provides fantastic foundations for this process. Since Orientation, Career Services offers workshops and experiential sessions to build your resume and cover letters, and panels with successful alumni in the Consulting field. During recruiting season, Career Services facilitates information sessions and one-on-one case preparation with firm representatives. During interview season, first round interviews are generally done in our Career Center, and these are organized by Career Services as well. Both Career Services and 2Ys have been key in my successful transition into Consulting!


Guest: Thanks for hosting this chat. I am interested in consulting but have not had the opportunity to interact with management consultants in my own career. Given that most applications ask why one is interested in a particular career path, I find my interest hard to justify given that I only understand management consulting on the surface. Do you have any recommendations for learning more about management consulting or networking with a firm prior to applying to Booth, so that my application is more thoughtful?

* Dheeraj Ravi: That's a great question! I also didn't know much about consulting prior to applying to Booth. I had done a lot of secondary research (google, vault.com, etc.) to understand about the industry. After that, I used forums like these and visited schools to talk with current students to understand what the process was. In terms of networking with a firm prior to applying to B-school, I hadn't done any of that. There are plenty of resources available once you actually get to the school where pretty much all of your networking takes place. Hope that helps!


Guest: How common is it for people who come in with boutique consulting experience to transition into a Big 3 consulting firm?

* Fern ONeill: Welcome to the consulting chat! I am one of the career coaches in Career Services. In general, it is very common for students to come to Booth to make a career change into strategy consulting and specifically the Big 3 firms. Students who come with design consulting experience already bring a strong skill set in communication, building relationships and finding client solutions. That is a great start to making the transition to Big 3 consulting.


Guest: What preparation would you recommend pre-MBA to hit the ground running?

* Matthew Robinson: Hello and thanks for the question!  For someone looking to recruit for consulting, you can do a few things to hit the ground running (but none of these are by any means essential or required to get an internship).  Firstly, you can be on the look-out for pre-MBA events, internships or special programs.  For example, certain consulting firms will have programs that identify high potential candidates - successful applicants for these programs are sometimes advanced through to the 2nd round of interviews automatically.  Secondly, you can start your research on the consulting industry or target firms.  You could arrange coffee chats with consultants you know, or set up google news alerts about companies that you may be interested in.  Anything you do prior to arriving is an added bonus - there are so many resources once you arrive, you will be well and truly supported.


Guest: Hi Booth officers and students, thank you very much for hosting this chat for us! I was wondering what consulting companies come to recruit on campus.

* Dheeraj Ravi: Lots of consulting companies come. Off the top of my head, McKinsey, BCG, Bain, A.T. Kearney, Deloitte, Accenture, LEK, ZS, strategy&, KPMG, Roland Berger, TCS, The Cambridge Group, Analysis Group, IBM, Cornerstone, IDEO. I'm sure there are lots more than this, but hopefully this shows you that it's a variety of firms (big management consulting firms, smaller boutique firms, economic/litigation consulting, financial/audit consulting, etc.)



Guest: What are a few notable classes that best prepare Booth students for the consulting world?

* Kathleen Davis: I think that depends on your individual background and previous experience.  Personally, I found competitive strategy helpful in thinking about market dynamics and interactions with customers/supplies when preparing for case studies.  In talking with classmates who came in with limited business backgrounds, they mentioned that the core classes like economics and accounting were helpful to take in the fall to just get exposure to business topics.  I also found my academic advisor helpful in tailoring my fall schedule to my personal experiences and interest in consulting.  


Guest: Hi, what approach do strategy firms take while shortlisting candidates for interview - is it the pre-interview networking events or performance in past career and academic avenues? also, do MBB hire international students? What percentage of international students are able to land strategy roles?

* Belen Bazano: Great questions, I will answer them separately: (i) As a student, I do not have any insights into how the shortlisting of firms works, however I have felt that the many resources provided by both MCG (Management Consulting Group) and Career Services were more than enough to meet and network with several firm representatives and prepare my candidacy as appealing as possible for the industry -showcasing my professional and academic achievements-. (ii) Most consulting firms (including MBB) do not have any restrictions on international student hiring -I am from Argentina, and I will be joining Bain & Company in the Washington D.C. office-. I have received a lot of help from other international Boothies that had successfully recruited for U.S. offices during the process! (iii) From past years, in general more than 30% of international students go into consulting, so it is definitely a great opportunity for us!


Guest: Thank you for taking the time to be with us today.  For those of you that weren't previously in consulting, what do you think were the most useful Booth experiences to prepare you for an internship, and ultimately a career?

* Dheeraj Ravi: Great question! Firstly, there are plenty of Career Services sessions (e.g. high impact resumes, conducting informational interviews, writing effective cover letters, etc). Secondly, 1Ys talk a lot with 2Ys who interned at the firm/location they are interested in to get an understanding of their summer and the entire recruiting process, and ultimately help case and fit interview. Thirdly, there is a group called Business Solutions Group, where you get selected to work with a smaller/non-profit client on a live project. You present to a larger audience where firm representatives and fellow classmates are in attendance. Fourthly, there are lots of case competitions (Deloitte, Accenture, A.T. Kearney hold them in the fall) to allow you to get more exposure to the firms as well as simulate solving a case in short period of time. Hope that helps!


Guest: What would you advise doing to prepare for consulting interviews before school begins?

* Belen Bazano: This is something that concerned me as well before starting at Booth. I would recommend to just relax! The best you can do now is just research about the industry to make sure it is a good fit with your personal interests and future career aspirations. Regarding interview preparation, the resources that we receive at Booth through the Management Consulting Group and Career Services, is designed to prepare us for interviews while in school, and you will see how steep the ramp-up is!


Guest: Hello! Thank you for taking the time to answering our questions. It is my understanding that a networking plays a major role in landing an interview with the major consulting firms. Are there any specific tips you have in terms of reaching out to recruiters, consultant and even senior classmates/ alumnis?

* Matthew Robinson: Hello and great question.  Networking plays a significant role in getting an interview with many firms.  For consulting, much of this is facilitated through Career Services and the Management Consulting Group, with a large number of consulting firms coming to campus to network with students.  This also means that there is a very clear process for whom to reach out to and at what time to do so.  My advice would be that you don’t need to worry too much about networking before arriving at business school – it is a tried and true process that will start after you start business school.  You will have plenty of support when you arrive!


Guest: Hi, Thanks for hosting this chat! Can you recommend any resources (books, events, etc.) to better prepare for career in consulting before the first semester starts?

* Heather Packo:  In regards to preparing for a career in consulting before arriving to campus, Career Services will host a variety of Summer Prep virtual programming for all incoming students. Some of the consulting firms will also host pre-MBA events over the summer. Once you are a student, you will have access to a plethora of resources and events sponsored by both Career Services and MCG that will help position you for a career in consulting.


Guest: Do you see a lot of classmates that want to work in consulting, but are unable to get jobs due to inadequate preparation, networking, interviewing, number of jobs available...or other factors

* Kathleen Davis: This was definitely a concern that I had prior to coming to Booth!  Having not really networked or interviewed since undergrad (and I didn't do a ton of it in undergrad), I was unsure about the preparation required.  However, I felt that the Management Consulting Group and career services did a great job in the fall to prepare me for the networking and interviewing process.  There were many events prior to companies coming on campus for networking prep such as Interaction and 1Y/2Y Networking Night where you can practice your networking and receive feedback from 2nd years.  Additionally, both groups have been very supportive in setting up a ton of events to facilitate the networking process - I didn't feel lost in who to reach out to and connect with at the firms.  There were also numerous opportunities to learn about the structure of case interviews and to prep with the firms and second years before interviews.


Guest: Good afternoon. I would like to know what concentration or courses should I take in order to pursue a career in consulting (I have a financial investments / government background).

* Matthew Robinson: I am personally pursuing a strategic management concentration in order to prepare myself for consulting.  I know a lot of my classmates are doing an entrepreneurship concentration as well.  In terms of specific subjects, most people recruiting for consulting internships studied Competitive Strategy, Strategy & Structure or Marketing Strategy to prepare them for consulting interviews.


Guest: For those who have done summer internships in consulting, were there any less-than-happy surprises?

* Belen Bazano: I believe the networking part of recruiting was crucial to learn about the different firms and their culture, understand what being a consultant entails, and aligning expectations on the day-to-day of the job. Therefore, I have not heard of any surprises from my classmates. The few instances in which my classmates have felt that their internship experience was a negative one, was because they were not a good fit with Consulting, and they decided to pursue another industry in full-time recruiting.


Guest: This is more of a general recruiting question applicable to all jobs, but can you discuss how students are selected for interviews and networking events?  Is there anything unique to consulting?

* Fern ONeill: During the fall quarter, many companies, including all of the big consulting firms will come to campus for a wide range of recruiting events. During these events, there is networking and many opportunities to meet with company representatives, share your story, and learn about the company and the roles available. Based on the relationships you build during these events-individual networking conversations, and your resume/cover letter, firms will decide which students to invite to interviews and private networking events. The aspect that is unique to consulting is the shear volume of opportunities to connect with the firms.


Guest: What are the best ways to differentiate yourself among other students who will be going through much of the same classes, workshops, interview prep, etc?

* Matthew Robinson: This is a great question, because you are surrounded by classmates who are amazing.  In my option, there are 3 factors that go into successfully recruiting for consulting.  Firstly, to get an interview, you need to network with consulting firms when they come on campus.  Being curious about the people you speak to and showing an interest in the firms is the first step.  Secondly, the amount and quality of preparation for the “case interview” in consulting will be a major differentiator.  Both Career Services and the Management Consulting Group provide a lot of resources to help you with this, but you need to put in a lot of effort to be truly prepared.  Finally, having a narrative for why you want to be a consultant is important – you will get asked that.  Start working on this now.


Guest: How had Booth been helpful when you decided which types of consulting firms to apply to (e.g. big 3 versus boutique)?

* Dheeraj Ravi: Booth was great in terms of providing resources to learn about the companies whether in-person (where firms come to campus for their corporate conversations and send people to do 1 or 2-on-1 coffee chats) or through secondary research (e.g. Wetfeet, Vault.com). I also spoke with lots of 2Ys to understand what was feasible in terms of recruiting. For example, recruiting for a few consulting companies and another industry or going all out with consulting. Through these conversations, I was able to understand a lot about the companies, what mattered to me (size, location, staffing model, travel frequency, etc.). It is a completely individual decision which varies a lot. I chose to do all consulting because I was clear that I wanted to get exposure to consulting over the summer


Guest: Hi - thank you for hosting this chat! What are services available to Booth students to help them prepare for case interviews?

* Heather Packo: Career Services offers general programming for practicing your interview story, as well as our interview training program. MCG offers an array of programming for case interview prep.


Guest: I have heard that student organizations play a vital role in helping 1st years prepare for internship recruiting with consulting firms. What kind of resources and guidance are offered?

* Belen Bazano: Most definitely! I am a co-chair of the Management Consulting Group (MCG), so I am happy to talk about this. Both MCG and Career Services strive to help 1Ys to successfully recruit for consulting. MCG offers a wide variety of programming that will help you: a) build your candidacy (resume, cover letters), b) interact with firm representatives and get access to firm-specific hosted events, c) prepare for interviews! To give you some examples, when recruiting season starts we host a 1Y/2Y Networking Night, which is a mock networking event where 2Ys act as firm representatives and give you feedback on how you have interacted with them (which can be as detailed as how your posture and body language was!). Further into the season, we host a Case Workshop were we fully immerse 1Ys in the "act of casing". With all of these opportunities, I have felt more than prepared once interviews started!


Guest: Can you please tell us more about the recruiting process for consulting firms? Does it start from the first day on campus?

* Fern ONeill: The recruiting process for consulting can begin in the summer before matriculation as many firms offer pre-MBA receptions and programs that provide the opportunity to meet with firm representatives. Once school begins, companies will come to campus for events in mid-October with interviews beginning in mid-January. Students are often surprised at how quickly the recruiting process begins! This reinforces the importance of doing a lot of self-assessment during the summer to help you develop your career focus.


Guest: As current students who have not been management consultants before, are you apprehensive about the potential difference in your impression of what management consulting is like, versus the reality? (i.e. travel, work/life balance, types of work you'll be doing)

* Dheeraj Ravi: Absolutely! The truth about consulting is that there is so much variation in the types of projects, where you travel to, work/life balance, etc. That is why it was critical for me to get a summer internship in consulting to see if it was a good fit. My project was lighter on the workload (my workday was 8-6), but some others were working much longer. Similarly, I travelled my entire summer, but others travelled only a couple of weeks.


Guest: What are consulting firms looking for in an applicant in general and in case interviews?

* Heather Packo: In regards to the behavioral-based questions asked in your interview, they want to learn more about you and gauge your fit for the position and firm. Can you do the job/will you do the job/are you a good fit fo the organization. They are also looking for other skills such as problem solving skills, leadership skills, etc. They will ask questions about past behaviors that will help them to predict your future/potential success at their firm. Regarding case interviews, they are looking at many things including analytical skills, presentation skills, and the ability to synthesize data to form a solution.

Guest: What is the general timeline for securing your first summer internship? Is it something you start working towards on Day 1 or is there a later start date?

* Fern ONeill: Officially, consulting firms begin to come to campus for presentations, lunch and learns, and networking in mid-October. Prior to mid-October, Career Services and the student groups will provide programming to help you prepare for the recruiting process. This represents the beginning of the recruiting process. Interviews begin in mid-January.


Guest: Are there specific classes which students tend to take in their first year in order to prepare for career in management consulting?

* Kathleen Davis: I think that depends on your individual background and previous experience.  Personally, I found competitive strategy helpful in thinking about market dynamics and interactions with customers/supplies when preparing for case studies.  In talking with classmates who came in with limited business backgrounds, they mentioned that the core classes like economics and accounting were helpful to take in the fall to just get exposure to business topics.  I also found my academic advisor helpful in tailoring my fall schedule to my personal experiences and interest in consulting. 


Guest: Is it recommended to start preparing for case interview early? This will be through reading books like Case In Point and Case Interview Secrets. I saw some conflicting opinions on this matter.

* Belen Bazano: This is something that concerned me as well before starting at Booth. I would recommend to just relax! The best you can do now is just research about the industry to make sure it is a good fit with your personal interests and future career aspirations. Regarding interview preparation, the resources that we receive at Booth through the Management Consulting Group and Career Services, is designed to prepare us for interviews while in school, and you will see how steep the ramp-up is! It will never hurt to start reading those books, but truly we do not expect you to have started before you arrive on campus; you will have more than enough time to become an excellent candidate!


Guest:  Can you talk about the typical internship recruiting cycle for management consultants? When does recruiting for internship begin? How long does the process last?

* Matthew Robinson: Hello!  The internship recruiting process started surprisingly quickly.  During orientation and the first few weeks of Fall quarter.  From week 4 of the Fall quarter, networking begins for the remainder of the quarter.  Towards the end of the Fall quarter, we generally start preparing for interviews, which continues until interviews.  This year, interviews began in the second week of Winter quarter.  The interview process can take from a few days to a couple of weeks.  Upon receiving an offer, you usually have about a month to accept.  The consulting internships generally begin in early June (just after the end of Spring quarter) and are generally 10 weeks long.  You get a few weeks break between the end of the internship and your second year commencing.


Guest: What was the most surprising aspect of the recruiting process?

* Kathleen Davis: Great question! I was surprised at how much I was able to learn about the structure and culture of each of the firms throughout the recruiting process.  All the interactions with each firms better allowed me to prioritize across the firms during the interview and decision process. 


Guest: Thank you for the answer, Dheeraj! I am wondering where you see graduates' consulting careers take them geographically? Are most staying in Chicago? Are any of the students doing internships or getting full-time offers internationally?

* Dheeraj Ravi: Consulting is very flexible that way and is one of the few industries that allow you to live in most geographies. Most internships and full time offers remain in the US. It is true that Chicago will be first, but unfortunately don't know an exact percent. I think somewhere in the range of 30-50% is accurate. After that, New York and San Francisco are very popular. Then in no particular order, Boston, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, LA, Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, etc. Internationally, London and Mexico City are the most popular international locations


Guest: Thank you to the panel for taking the time to chat with us today! I am an international applicant and given all the current uncertainty around immigration policy, Iit would be interesting to know what advice Career Services has for students hoping to transition into consulting in the US short-term before returning home.

* Fern ONeill: That is a very important question! Our current international students are getting a lot of information and support from the consulting firms and Career Services. Specifically, our second year international students who have accepted US consulting roles have been reassured by the consulting firms that they will be supported through the immigration process. They are providing flexibility and legal resources. Career Services offers programming specifically to international students to help you navigate the process and invite an immigration attorney to answer student questions.


Guest: Hello - What are services available to Booth students to help them prepare for case interviews?

* Heather Packo: Career Services offers a variety of interview prep programming, including interview prep kickoff, practice your interview stories, and our interview training program. MCG (Management Consulting Group) offers a variety of programming and resources for case interview prep.


Guest: Hi, thank you for hosting this chat! Can you please talk a little more about what role student organizations, such as the Management Consulting Group, play in helping students prepare for interviews/the consulting field in general?

* Belen Bazano: Thank you for joining us! I am a co-chair of the Management Consulting Group (MCG), so I am happy to talk about this. Both MCG and Career Services strive to help 1Ys to successfully recruit for consulting. MCG offers a wide variety of programming that will help you: a) build your candidacy (resume, cover letters), b) interact with firm representatives and get access to firm-specific hosted events, c) prepare for interviews! To give you some examples, when recruiting season starts we host a 1Y/2Y Networking Night, which is a mock networking event where 2Ys act as firm representatives and give you feedback on how you have interacted with them (which can be as detailed as how your posture and body language was!). Further into the season, we host a Case Workshop were we fully immerse 1Ys in the "act of casing". With all of these opportunities, I have felt more than prepared once interviews started!


Guest: How are on campus interviews distributed? Do you use a lottery system?

* Fern ONeill: There are two avenues to securing campus interviews. One is through invitation. Through the recruiting events and networking, you will have the opportunity to get to know the firms and the company reps. Students that build strong relationships with firm representatives have a strong chance of getting invited to interview. There is also a bid component. Students can bid for an interview. Each student receives 1000 bid points to use for internship recruiting. You can bid up to 1000 points for interview slots with companies you are very interested in.


Guest: How did you decide which consulting firm to go with, ultimately?

* Belen Bazano: This is a very hard question. It is very much a personal decision. I felt that the Management Consulting Group enabled plenty of opportunities for me to get to know consultants at each firm, and experience their culture first-hand. In my case, some things I considered were the people I had met through the process, community and culture, the staffing process, the exit opportunities, and the industries covered. By the time interviews start, you will probably have a good idea of the slight differences of each firm, and there are always 2Ys to talk to and learn about their experience with each firm!


Guest: What percentage of students who get a consulting internship in the summer do you see getting full-time offers right after the internship?

* Heather Packo: Referencing out 2016 employment report, 22.6% of the class secured internships within consulting. For FT, 29.3% of students secured a job in consulting.


Guest: Given the perceived up-or-out system, I'm curious if any of you view a management consulting firm as a longer-term career destination (5+ years), and why or why not?

* Kathleen Davis: Good question! While not having a firm view of my long term plans, staying in consulting in the long term is definitely something I am considering. I think there are a ton of opportunities in consulting for personal development growth, not just at the post-MBA level but also at the manager, etc. levels.  The continuous steep learning curve and diversity of case experiences are very attractive qualities of a long term consulting job in my opinion. 


Guest: What was it about consulting that attracted you to the career change?

* Matthew Robinson: For me, the appeal of consulting is the learning opportunity – you get repeated exposure to the hardest strategic problems facing organizations.  However, many people recruit for consulting for different reasons.  For example, many of my peers really value the ability to see a large number of industries, either because they like variety or because they want to sample different industries before entering industry.


Guest: Among management consultant firms, how much does full-time hiring vary from year to year? Do firms come to Booth with a specific number of candidates in mind or do they evaluate candidates more on an individual basis, with the exact number varying somewhat from year to year?

* Fern ONeill: There is some variability each year based on the consulting firm’s needs. We have seen between 22% and 24% of students each year land internships in consulting. Firms may have a general sense of how many interns they want to hire each year and how many from Booth. Having said that, firms will evaluate the students they interview and decide based on the performance of those students.


Guest: Hi, is the preparation for consulting recruitment valid for other jobs? This is, if one hasn´t landed an internship offer in consulting, is all the preparation useful to still get another internship?

* Heather Packo:  Yes - the interview prep you will do for consulting recruitment is transferable to other industries/functions. All functions have an element of behavioral interview questions - it's just a matter of tweaking your stories (and Career Services is here to help you with that). If one has not landed an offer with consulting, many have pivoted to other functions, such as strategy and marketing, and have been successful. And many of our students have stated that their general and case interview prep has been useful moving forward with new functions.


Guest: Hello! Thank you for hosting this chat.  How much of an impact did Booth alumni have during the consulting recruiting process (internship and/or career)?  Any examples you can share?

* Matthew Robinson: I found that the consulting firms sent many Booth alumni to the on campus networking events.  This meant that a majority of my interactions with consultants were in Booth alumni and they were therefore an important part of the process.  For example, during orientation, we had partners at consulting firms who were Booth alumni talk to us about their careers, why they chose consulting and how they see their career progressing.  These were particularly valuable seeing what a career in consulting would look like, especially given that they were speaking in their capacity as alumni rather than firm representatives.


Guest: As a non-consulting background student, I am curious what a consultant's typical day looks like, either it's on a b-trip or in the office. What kind of specific tasks that a consultant is actually working on if you could please provide some examples?

* Dheeraj Ravi: This will definitely vary a lot day-by-day and it depends on client needs (could be some urgent last minute request he has) or important presentations that happen. It also depends on the type of project. Usually travel takes place M-Th and you go in the office on Friday. Over the summer, my activities ranged from conducting interviews with client stakeholders as well as firm partners to leverage their knowledge, doing secondary research to understand more about the industry and client, visiting distribution centers and stores to understand current operations and ways to improve them, lots of Excel and PPT for analyzing data, I even used my SQL knowledge to extract data from client's database. But there would be some days before an important client presentation where all we did was focus on the presentation, messaging and preparing for it.


Guest: Do most of the large consulting firms recruit for the Chicago office or are they looking to place people in offices across the country? Is there any choice as to which office you intern or work in?

* Belen Bazano: Which office you apply to is definitely your choice. All consulting firms that recruit with us hire for most (if not all) of their offices. Particularly in the case of large firms, they are very open to hiring into any office, and we have a great distribution of Boothies all across the world. During the networking season you will be asked about your office preference, and you will have the chance to interact with firm representatives from almost every office on campus!


Guest: Was there any other industry outside of consulting that you were considering? And what gravitated you towards consulting?

* Kathleen Davis: I used the summer and orientation programming to explore many other career options across the board.  There are many great alumni panels (both more recent and more experienced alumni) to get an idea for what different industries and jobs look like.  Ultimately, I decided to look into corporate strategy and management consulting in more depth.  Consulting was particularly attractive to me given the steep learning curve, fast paced nature of the work, and diversity of industry and function experience.


Guest: I'm interested in pursuing both the Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship concentrations but I'm having a hard time figuring out the requisites to fulfill them! Can you direct me somewhere where I can find this??

* Kelsey Bergren: You will be able to work with academic services to help craft your course load when you arrive at Booth, however you can get an idea of what you might be taking by clicking on the different concentration pages here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/academics/curriculum


Guest: Going off of the location question, how important is it to know what location you want to end up in for a full-time position when recruiting for consulting internships?

* Dheeraj Ravi: It truly depends on the firm, but I would say most consulting firms are trying to develop an office culture so it is important to specify a preference for location. You definitely don't need to know it coming in to B-school as often people come here with a preference for one location and switch half-way through the networking process after learning about various offices. But before applying it is essential you have at most 2 locations you are interested in.


Guest: Hi Belen, you mentioned some of your classmates decided to pursue another industry after an internship in consulting. Was it challenging for them to switch focus, considering they might have missed out on some of the networking opportunities/internships already?

* Belen Bazano: That is a great question. Most firms look at full-time recruiting separately from internship recruiting. Both Career Services and student organizations organize events with the firms prior to full-time recruiting, similar to what they do with 1Ys. Moreover, consulting builds key skills that can be transferable to almost any industry, so none of my classmates have had any difficulties switching to their top-choice industry!


Guest: Hi Belen, as an international student from Argentina, how was your experience coming to Booth and recruiting with US companies? Were there any surprises, a steep learning curve?

* Belen Bazano: I have not experienced any difference in how I had to prepare for interviews as an international student. The steep learning curve happens for all students if they are career changers, not matter their background or nationality. That being said, if working in consulting in a U.S. office is your priority, as it was for me, utilizing all the resources at Booth (from career services and MCG) was very helpful to feel as prepared as I could be!


Guest: Are there any clear indicators or resources you can think of that'd help someone figure whether consulting is NOT the right fit for them?

* Matthew Robinson: Hello!  There are a few things that can really help you figure out whether consulting is right for you once you are on campus.  Firstly, there are a number of case competitions that mimic consulting projects.  These can be a good test to see whether you like the work.  Secondly, you get lots of opportunities to meet to consultants and talk to them about their work and life.  These are good opportunities to test whether consulting is the right environment for you.  Finally, the consulting interviews involve “cases”.  These are meant to test the skills that you need to be a consultant.  If you don’t enjoy these cases, that’s probably an indicator that it may not be right for you.  Overall, Booth and 2nd year students have been really good at providing the resources to allow us to figure this out.


Guest: How would you describe the consultant's approach to tackling problems?  It seems like a useful skillset to have even if you are going into a different field.

* Kathleen Davis: In my experience, I've found that I've approached problems in an analytical and structured manner, which I think would be applicable in any situation.  Similarly, being able to quickly come up to speed on a new case/problem is also helpful.  I think this is why we see consultants going to all kinds of different roles and industries later in their careers, as the consultant skillset seems to be valued.


Guest: How important is involvement in extracurricular to consulting firms / the recruiting process? Will consulting firms car about your course load and which classes you have taken at the time of recruitment?

* Kathleen Davis: I think this varies based on your past experiences.  I found that most of my interviews focused on open questions related to my past experiences and the case interview.  However, I believe firms are open to you using non-work past experiences in answering those questions if the stories make sense given the question.  In terms of Booth classes/experiences, fall experiences can be used to signal interest in consulting such as through the Business Solutions Group. 


Guest: Hi, Belen. I'm from Peru. Can you talk about Latin America Business Group? Did you find it helpful for your career in consulting? Thanks.

* Belen Bazano: I am also co-chair of LABG, so I'm happy to talk about it! LABG offers programming related to consulting opportunities in Latin America, a mentorship program, and several interview prepapration sessions that were definitely useful in the process. But most importantly, it represents and amazing community of people that will support you and help you navigate the recruiting process and beyond!


Guest: This isn't a question but I want to say thank you to Fern for providing me with that candid feedback. Very helpful insight.

* Fern ONeill: You’re welcome!


Guest: Are most of the consulting roles general management or are there opportunities to seek out specilaized areas within in each firm?

* Dheeraj Ravi: It depends on the firm. Most students' preferences are for generalist roles and that's why most internships are generalist. However, certain firms higher for specific functions as well, McKinsey and Strategy& being the main examples. A.T. Kearney this year started hiring for their advanced analytics practice. For Deloitte & Accenture, you choose between strategy and technology. As the industry moves towards being more specialized, you can definitely see more of these opportunities opening up.


Guest: In your experience, did the demands of consulting recruitment take anything away from your first semester experience in any way?

* Dheeraj Ravi: Hi John, it is definitely true that consulting and banking are probably the 2 most intensive recruiting processes. This is because networking plays a key role in each and given the number of consulting firms that recruit (15-20), it definitely leads to lots of research and conversations you need to have. However, I still had time to have a social life and do academics, just not to the level I was able to focus on once recruiting was over.


Guest: Could you talk more about your internship experience? Were you staffed on a single project from start to end or were you able to see a bit of several? Were you treated as a consultant or associate? How much responsibilities did you get?

* Belen Bazano: For my internship I was staffed in a single project throughout the 10 weeks, and had 1 week of training. For each firm the position name differs, but in general consultant means the same as associate (as it did in my firm), and we were definitely treated as such and received feedback with the same metrics as every other consultant. I was managing a complete workflow, including the early stages, the analysis, the strategy optimization, and the interactions with the client and partners of the team. It was an extremely fullfiling experience, where I met fantastic people. It gave me the reassurance that consulting is the industry I want to be in!


Guest: Given that consulting recruiting is highly structured and rather formal, how much does career services help in managing the logistics surrounding this process? Additionally, since consulting recruiting is early in the year, for applicants who are unsuccessful in securing an offer (or an offer they would like to accept), how does career services help in pursuing alternate/secondary career paths through the remainder of the school year?

* Fern ONeill: Career Services is very involved in the logistics in both recruiting events and campus interviews. We work hard to manage conflicting dates for events and try to spread out the interviews on campus. Having said this, it can still be challenging for students to navigate the process! For those students who are not successful in securing a consulting internship, Career Services works with them to determine their alternate plan for the summer. We encourage students to develop an alternate plan early in the fall so that if the consulting path doesn't materialize, they can pivot fairly seamlessly.


Guest:: Can we recruit for all 3 big strategy firms? Once recruited, can students still apply to other firms (even outside consulting)?

* Kathleen Davis: From my experience and in talking with my classmates, I'd say that the vast majority of students recruit across many consulting firms as well as non-consulting firms at the same time.  Firms also give you time to consider their offer while still wrapping up recruiting with other firms of interest. 


Guest: For those that have completed internships in consulting, how accurate/honest did you find the information you were able to glean from the on campus recruiters? Their job is to sell you on the company, so in terms of lifestyle, hours, travel, and collegiality of the office, did you find their accounts to be representative of your own experience?

* Dheeraj Ravi: Absolutely firms want to present it in the best possible light. This is why we speak with 2Ys about their experiences and are able to get their perspective. I don't think the on-campus recruiters ever directly lied, but obviously focused on the positives. The truth is that the lifestyle, hours, travel, etc. all varies a lot. For instance, a few of the interns and I worked 8-6, when others for a lot longer and that just has to do with the project requirements and nothing to do with the firm


Guest: Dear Fern, Are there any indications that consulting firms may shy away from recruitment given the trends amongst new government policies towards the H1B visa?

* Fern ONeill: While there is quite a bit of uncertainly with the new government policies that we are watching closely, we are not hearing from consulting firms that they are shying away from international students.


Guest: Once you get an offer for internship/full-time from these firms, do you as an individual can negotiate the offer terms or does Booth helps in this area?

* Fern ONeill: Many students choose to negotiate their internship or full time offers. While Career Services does not negotiate on your behalf, we will work with you to develop your negotiating strategy. I will say that in general, most of the big consulting firms aren’t open to negotiating salary.


Guest: Throughout the consulting recruiting process, did you ever have firm events that conflicted with one another?  In other words, did you ever feel the need to choose between networking/recruiting for one firm over another?  As a follow-up, did you try to recruit for as many firms as possible or try to limit it knowing you had time constraints?

* Dheeraj Ravi: This was rarely ever the case. No consulting firm's corporate conversation ever overlapped with another's. There would be few overlaps with consulting and other industries. Once closed list invites started coming out, some events would overlap, but it was completely fine to attend each event for half the time or just go to one event. This also wouldn't have any repercussions. I personally wanted to get exposed to consulting so I recruited for all consulting firms. It is a personal decision. Others recruited selectively and did other industries as well.


Guest: Thank you, Belen and Dheeraj for answering my questions! Does the Chicago Women in Business student group organize any events or prep for consulting or other industries specifically?

* Belen Bazano: Yes! There is a Women Conference early in the year where you will have the opportunity to meet many successful women alumni in different industries, including Consulting. Some of the women I met in that event later became my mentors throughout the recruiting process!