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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: Consulting is notorious for regular travel and long-working hours. Are there other career paths out of Booth that do similar work without the travel and with fewer hours (less than 60 per week)?

* Rudwan Azmeh: The consulting industry overall has had a movement towards making the work more sustainable (i.e. more local clients and sustainable hours 65 or less a week). I myself am indexing on sustainability due to having a family. So I wouldn't rule consulting out. The nearest other career path would be corporate strategy. The pace isn't as intense, however, you would be specializing to one industry. I was recruiting for corporate strategy in parallel to consulting.


Guest: I am an undergraduate student studying Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics at University of Minnesota. I would like to know how I could apply my study and skill sets in the Consulting Industry.

* Dallas Cullen: Great question. Consulting requires a large number of skill-sets and Math, CSc, and Stats are all very practical. For example, it may be helpful to run regressions on data sets or setup a quant problem in coding software (e.g. R or Python). It's hard to give specific examples, but there are definitely complementary skillsets between consulting and your academic background.


Guest: Do consulting firms ask for undergraduate grades/GPA in addition to GMAT scores?

* Sarah Lu: Yes, typically, in the applications, they do ask for your GPA, and many people will include it on their CV.


Guest: What is one Booth experience (course, student group, or other) that has contributed the most in helping you pursue a Strategy & Consulting career?

* Simon Zhu: I feel the Management Consulting Group (MCG) was the most helpful experience/resource at Booth to get into strategy consulting. It's the student-led group that facilitates all things consulting recruiting related, from networking to interview (incl. case) prep.


Guest: I'm interested in hearing what your favorite elective was and why?

* Sarah Lu: I really liked Operations, which is a class I didn't necessarily think I would enjoy coming into Booth. It has a ton of real-world applications and I really feel like I left the class with a lot of new knowledge. Plus, the professor was great and very engaging, and the group work leverage the strengths of different classmates.


Guest: Any recommendations for pre-mba preparation for recruiting season for strategy consulting?

* Dallas Cullen: Great question. While nothing is required, it is useful to start familiarizing yourself with the consulting industry, and doesn't hurt to read up on some case preparation basics. There are a number of books to familiarize yourself with the day-to-day job responsibilities, as well as some of the important skills (e.g. mental math, structured analysis, etc.). If you're eager to get started, I recommend starting there. I also know that some companies offer pre-MBA internships. I didn't do one of these myself, but this would be a great way to signal your interest in the industry and build connections.


Guest: For students’ career switching into strategy consulting, are there a few classes that stood out to you that you would recommend we take?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Yes! Competitive Strategy, Negotiations, Operations Management, really depending on what your personal strengths or weaknesses are, there are so many good courses you can take in order to feel a bit more rounded out. I'd like to note, many of the offerees were ex teachers, engineers, non-profit background and were very successful in consulting recruiting.


Guest: Hello! Thank you so much for hosting this chat! Could you speak to how you balance consulting recruiting with classwork? What is the timeline for the traditional consulting firms for a summer internship?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Balance is something that is very person specific. At any one point, you have five things you must balance, Schoolwork, Recruiting, Social life, sleep, and exercise. Think of them as parts to a whole. I definitely treated recruiting like a full time job. I balanced things by letting my group mates know when I had a very heavy week so that they would lighten my load. I would make up for it the next week when recruiting wasn't as hard. Note that many of your group mates have gone through recruiting and are very helpful. Additionally, professors are EXTREMELY accommodating, allowing the midterm to be replaced by the final in the course. Just make sure you find your balance early on and work forward.


Guest: Hi! Thank you all for taking the time for the Q&A. How hard is it for internationals to find a consulting job in the top consulting firms in the US?

* Heather Packo: Many of our strategy consulting firms do not have work-authorization requirements for the US. However, the recruiting process for Consulting, in general, is quite competitive.


Guest: I was wondering - what are some of the best classes offered at Booth that focus on Strategy?

* Dallas Cullen: There are tons of great strategy courses at Booth! Most courses offer a strategic element (i.e. some class time dedicated to strategic case discussion), but some have a stronger strategy focus than others. Some that come to mind are Competitive Strategy, Marketing Strategy, and Strategy Lab (work on a real strategy case for a client), although there are many others as well!


Guest: What resources are available for students wishing to practice for case interviews? 

* Sarah Lu: In the fall quarter the student consulting group, Management Consulting Group, will have a ton of resources for case prep, including workshops, one-on-one sessions, and a casebook with about 40 cases. I wouldn't worry about case prep before school starts, but to the extent that you're interested, you can begin looking on firm websites, which usually have several practice cases.


Guest: Hi! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I was wondering if you could give a little background as to where you will be this summer/working FT?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Definitely! Thanks to the overwhelming support of the Management Consulting Group, I was able to secure offers with McKinsey and BCG for the summer. Throughout the process, you recruit for multiple firms. Once you receive offers, you use the time after to reflect on the recruiting process and the relationships you developed with the firms in order to decide which firm you want to summer at and join FT.


Guest: Thanks so much for taking the time to host this Q&A! What should I be doing now, prior to school and recruitment starting, to make myself as attractive a candidate as possible for consulting firms come the fall?

* Sarah Lu: Relaxing and travelling! But seriously, interview prepping (e.g. case prep) is definitely something that doesn't need to happen until you're in school. I wouldn't worry about doing a pre-MBA internship unless it’s something you want to do anyway. I would read up on the industry at a high level if you'd like to, and also think about what city you want to end up in, and what industry or functional focuses you might want (totally not mandatory either -- many people end up getting jobs as generalists).  Through the summer, prep Booth will host industry-specific calls that will give high-level info on each industry.  I would call in to as many of these as you can, even if you are only remotely interested, because you could find something surprising there that grabs your attention.


Guest: Hello, I would like to know when the recruiting process for summer internships (consulting) starts, and when should I start to get prepared for it.

* Heather Packo: As a 1Y student, the recruiting process starts in fall quarter, with interviews wrapping up in January. Career Services and MCG will have various programs and initiatives to prepare you for/support you in your search.


Guest: Can you talk a little about the process for landing a job in strategy at a F500 company? It looks like most people join such jobs after a few years in management consulting. Are there paths to strategic planning without going through MC?

* Simon Zhu: It's true that many people exit strategy consulting to take on a more senior strategist role within a corporate setting (e.g. Director of Strategy). However, many post-MBA level roles in general management and corporate strategy could also lead to the same result For example, my background was in brand management in a CPG company and we worked closely with brand strategy - had I remained and worked my way up, I could have also reached a leadership role in strategy (just on the brand management side). Other roles like leadership rotational programs and even program/project management are all viable paths


Guest: Hello! I am curious about the % of jobs which fall in Strategy and Consulting industry every year at Booth. Can you talk about numbers from last couple of years?

* Heather Packo: All of this information is available on our employment report, which you will be able to view as a student. For 2016, 30.7% of the class (145 students) landed Consulting FT roles and 19.9% of the class (115 students) landed internships. For 2017, 32.6% of the class (160 students) landed Consulting FT roles and 20.1% of the class (115 students) landed internships.


Guest: Have there been any particular “must-take” classes that have been instrumental in preparing you for an internship/career in consulting?

* Rudwan Azmeh: There aren't really any must take classes. The management consulting group on campus does a fantastic job of prepping you for recruiting and interviews. I wouldn't worry about your background coming in. Trust them and the process.


Guest: Thanks for hosting this chat. Can you discuss the kind of strategy roles that Booth graduates pursue in high-tech companies like Google, Amazon, or Facebook?

* Dallas Cullen: Great question. There are a wide variety of strategy roles that Booth students pursue in high tech. A common role is in Business Operations (essentially working on internal strategic initiatives), but many other roles (e.g. PM, Operations, etc.) contain strategic elements as well.


Guest: Hi, thank you for arranging this chat. I wanted to ask if as entering Associates, do Boothies get placed in generalist roles (both functions and industries) or do you immediately get placed in a particular industry/function.

* Heather Packo: Majority of students go into generalist roles. For a student to obtain a FT role within a particular function/industry, consulting firms generally require significant FT work experience pre-Booth to be considered.


Guest: Hello, thanks for taking out time. Can one of you speak to support system to get a strategy consulting role in a niche firm, which say doesn't visit Booth? Though I do believe most of the big ones do.

* Simon Zhu: You're right - most consulting firms recruit at Booth (15-20 sponsor the main career group, MCG), but for targeted, off-campus search, networking is key. Leverage your Booth network to be connected with alums in the target firm, set up time to talk, do research on their firms, and of course, do the requisite prep needed for case/interviews


Guest: Thank you all for your time today. Since Booth has a non-disclosure policy, do consulting firms still ask for GPA in their application?

* Sarah Lu: Consulting firms will not ask for your Booth GPA, but you are free to disclose it in your CV if you'd like.


Guest: Thanks for hosting today! Could you explain what the case prep and interview questions are like?  What attributes are firms looking for in Booth students?

* Sarah Lu: Consulting interviews are typically composed of two parts: the case part and the fit/behavioral part. The fit/behavioral part will be similar to your business school interview ("tell me about a time when...") except likely more in-depth and of course focused on the firm and the position. The case part consists of the firm rep giving your business situation and testing how you would think about that situation (e.g. bringing a new product to market). Don't worry about this too much now -- there will be lots of time to prep once school starts! There are many attributes that firms look for, but largely they want someone who is structured, personable, reliable, and curious. Many of the same things they test for in b school interviews!


Guest: In order the order of most to least, what factors do strategy consulting firms consider when hiring for candidates? And as follow-up, what resources at Booth help to boost their factors?

* Janice Farrar: Consulting firms are looking for your ability to solve problems. They always want to know they will be able to put you in front of a client. So your critical thinking skills are hugely important as are your presentation skills.  There are a ton of resources available beginning with MCG, the consulting student group. They do a ton of work with their members and Career Service can help with mock interviews.


Guest: Do firms look for specific prior experiences/skillsets during the recruiting process?

* Simon Zhu: Absolutely not for prior experience - it's extremely common to have non-consulting (or even non-business) backgrounds and still recruit successfully. In terms of skillsets, problem solving, teamwork and client-facing experience are important to be a successful consultant, but again, people from all backgrounds/experiences get into consulting.


Guest: How have you guys taken advantage of the flexible curriculum at Booth in the first semester?

* Rudwan Azmeh: I've taken a variety of courses. I took Financial Accounting, Micro, Negotiations (Highly recommend), and Investments. All the courses were very good and really showed me the type of courses and professors Booth has to offer. Really, the curriculum allows you to decide what path you want to take at Booth, similar to what consulting firms do when you start working.


Guest: Is there a cut-off GMAT score that consulting firms look for while recruiting?

* Simon Zhu: Not at all - firms want to know that you are a capable problem-solver but there's no hard cutoff for either the GMAT or GPA.


Guest: In general, are there fewer consulting internships available than full-time positions?

* Heather Packo: This depends on the year. To take a look at opportunities landed for 2016 and 2017, please view my general response. I can share that it is possible for students to land FT positions in Consulting without having a Consulting internship; however, it's important to note that some firms do recruit solely from their intern pool.


Guest: What % of your time does recruiting / prepping for strategy consulting take?

* Rudwan Azmeh: I treated recruiting like a full time job. I would say that it took nearly 40 hours a week at the worst point. This was mainly due to living out in the suburbs. I would say that it should be at worst 30 hours a week at their peak, tapering down to about 20 hours on average. Note this is consulting recruiting by itself.


Guest: Would you recommend any particular concentration? Strategic Management seems the obvious choice, but is there another area that can be as useful, help you prepare for recruitment and/or provide a better skillset for your work as a consultant?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Because recruiting starts so early (3rd week of classes), concentrations this early on don't really affect your recruitment process. The Management Consulting Group on campus is extremely effective to helping you prepare and be ready for interviews. After you finish recruiting, you will know what classes you personally should take to better equip you to tackle the job.


Guest: What cities do Boothies end up working in for consulting? Are those locations driven by the companies or by student preference?

* Rudwan Azmeh: It is driven completely by student preference. Since we are located in Chicago, a large portion of students recruits here. When looking at cities, I would recruit based on what city you want to live in (have a reason) and consider the industries that are dominant in that location. If you are recruiting for Denver, it wouldn't make sense to be aiming to do energy work (mainly in Houston).


Guest: How was the recruiting for corporate strategy? Did you have to lead that by yourself or are there Booth-organized recruiting efforts?

* Dallas Cullen: There is a lot of internal support for corporate strategy positions. There is a Corp Strat club run by second years, which will prepare you for interviews, provide multiple networking opportunities, and help with all recruiting elements. Many companies recruit and interview on campus, which simplifies the process as well.


Guest: To how many strategy consulting firms do you advice one should be recruiting?

* Rudwan Azmeh: I would recommend casting a wide net; the number is specific to you. Definitely more than 5. I recruited for 8 management consulting firms, 4 tech firms, and 3 corporate strategy firms. I also did recruiting outside of school. I recommend this because the other students that are recruiting are also extremely qualified. Firms can only take so many great applicants.


Guest: Is there anything that you know now that you wish you would have known before starting the recruiting process?

* Sarah Lu: I guess one thing is that being location-agnostic is not necessarily an asset -- I thought it would make me more attractive to firms, but actually you need to start making connections to individual offices, so that's much harder if you're casting a very wide net and talking to multiple offices. It also makes you look a little more unfocused.


Guest: Are there one or two experiences that you felt best prepared you for your consulting internship (and the recruitment process)?

* Simon Zhu: The most valuable experience for me was joining the Management Consulting Group and following its programming; secondly, taking courses such as Competitive Strategy is helpful especially for those with a non-business background.


Guest: Hi! Thank you very much for hosting sessions. Can you tell us a bit about live consulting projects you worked on apart from the traditional class learning? Was that as a part of some specific course?

* Dallas Cullen: I personally haven't yet work on any live consulting projects, but there are a number of opportunities available. First, Booth offers many Lab courses. These courses allow students to work on real-world strategic projects in different sectors/areas (e.g. international social impact projects, local strategy projects, etc.). Additionally, there is a club called Business Solutions Group (BSG), which allows you to work on a local strategy project in a team of 3-5 first-year students, which you complete in addition to your classes.


Guest: When apply for a global consulting firm for a position in an international city, would students apply through the campus recruiting process (e.g. applying for a role at a global consultancy in Toronto)? 

* Heather Packo: We work with our consulting firms across the globe, so yes...you would go through the campus recruiting process. But understand that the process looks different for our US offices vs, for example, a London office. Career Services and the Consulting Firm recruiters will help ensure you are aware of all deadlines and putting you in touch with the appropriate office.


Guest: How heavily do things like GPA/GMAT score weigh vs. prior work experience during recruitment?

* Janice Farrar: GPA/GMAT are only one factor used to determine if a student is a good candidate.  Firms are looking at the candidate holistically. So being able to show leadership, responsibility progression, passion for problem solving, people skills and academic rigor all go into selecting candidates. 


Guest: Hi! Thank you for hosting this chat! I was wondering whether pre-MBA work experience (specifically the industry you were in) and the location of the office that you recruit for have had noticeable impacts on your consulting recruitment. For example, are there more attractive work experience and specific locations that consulting companies would prefer?

* Simon Zhu: Not at all in my case - I'm a career switcher and international student; I worked in marketing/brand management in Toronto and am going to generalist strategy consulting at Bain in Chicago. What strategy consulting firms look for are, generally speaking, problem solving, teamwork, and client management skills are assets. I did not feel at all hampered by my non-consulting and non-Chicago background.


Guest: What % of students who hope to do consulting are able to ultimately secure internship and FT opportunities?

* Janice Farrar: We typically have 27-30% of students going into consulting. For the most part, every intern that wants a consulting role lands on whether that be through an actual consulting firm or a consulting role within a corporate. 


Guest: Do you have any tips for approaching networking with consulting firms?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Be thoughtful. Ask questions that you care about. There are cookie cutter questions that many people ask, but those might not be what you care about. I would ask consultants why they chose to go to their firm, how they are meeting their short term goals at the firm, are they feeling fulfilled by the work that they are doing, what is the most difficult challenge you have encountered during your career, etc.


Guest: Do you know if the recruitment process is different if you want to have a career in consulting for specific industry? i.e. Energy consulting

* Heather Packo: Good question, that all depends. For some, it will look the same, as students will target strategy firms that work with clients in the energy space. For others, it may look different. In addition to targeting firms that recruit through the campus recruiting process, they may also target some boutique/niche firms, which will require them to execute what we call a specialized search.


Guest: Simon - Just as a follow-up to your response on the prior experience question. What was your background prior to Booth and what interested you about consulting that made you want to get into this industry? And for the other panelists as well, what intrigued you about consulting that made you pursue this career path?

* Simon Zhu: I worked in brand management/marketing at P&G in Canada; what drew me to consulting is the diverse work (projects and industries) I'll get to do, the rigorous feedback/professional development culture, and the steep learning curve. I could very well end up back in corporate in the future (which is very common for consultants) but for now, I wanted a new challenge and to get outside of my comfort zone!


Guest: If you go down the consulting career path, what are options to entrepreneurial consulting? If I go down this path, are my options for entrepreneurial work better focuses on a different career track? Thank you for your time.

* Sarah Lu: If you're curious about consulting for startups, that's actually not something I'm very familiar with, and not something that the larger firms do a lot of as far as I know. There are definitely social impact arms of most major firms that could pair you with newer organizations, and you could also focus on growth projects within a firm that work to stand up new divisions of current companies. That being said, there are a lot of entrepreneurship opportunities and resources at Booth if you want a more direct path to that world (Polsky accelerator, New Venture Challenge, etc.)


Guest: Can you speak to consulting recruiting for other regions then Chicago? I am looking at working FT in New York and will aiming for that region.

* Janice Farrar: You will initially start with the school recruiter, letting him/her know of your desire and they will help connect you with people in that region.


Guest: Are there situations where a Booth MBA student takes a non-consulting internship but then interviews successfully for FT consulting? How common is this scenario?

* Janice Farrar: That scenario was more popular in the past. As consulting firms have started to shift the recruiting efforts to focus more on their intern pool. That doesn't mean if you don't do a consulting internship that you won't be able to recruit for full-time. However, you will need to do your homework identifying firms that don't return for full-time interviews.


Guest: Can you recommend few books to prepare for case studies?

* Dallas Cullen: Great question. I've heard mixed opinions about which books are best to prepare for consulting, but some common books include Case Interview Secrets and Case in Point. The Management Consulting Group (MCG) will distribute a comprehensive prep book to all members with all the information you will need to know. This MCG book was all I used to prepare for consulting, and it was more than enough!


Guest: The employment report shows that Booth sends a large number of people to MBB. Approximately, what % of those are sponsored?

* Heather Packo: At this time, we do not have this specific data available to share.

Guest: Hi, thanks for being here today! How important is an internship for landing a FT in consulting? And what is the timeline for recruiting for internships and FT jobs?

* Sarah Lu: I think having an internship is definitely beneficial in that you get a taste of the workplace and the lifestyle, and often it is easier to get the FT offer off of an internship than not.  However, empirically this year we saw many second years get full time offers who did not intern in consulting, or get offers at firms they did not intern at, so if you don't do a summer internship it is possible to get a FT offer. In terms of timeline, for internships the interviews happen mainly in January and for FT its October.


Guest: Assuming an intern has no experience in the consulting industry, what is your tip on how to sell myself to the recruiter through my resume?

* Janice Farrar: The MCG student group and Career Services will help you craft your resume to highlight your past skill to make you marketable. You'll get plenty of help.


Guest: How about a pre-MBA consulting/strategy internship? Did anyone do that? If so, did it help you be more prepared for the recruiting process while at Booth?

* Dallas Cullen: I personally did not do a pre-MBA internship, and I heard mixed reviews from my classmates. The general feedback I heard was that if you are considering a pre-MBA internship; try to find one through Booth's channels, as opposed to finding one yourself. Those who found a pre-MBA internship themselves often noted that it wasn't as helpful as they initially thought due to there being minimal structure. Two useful elements would be 1) you learn how the industry and projects are structured, and 2) you build connections within the firm, which could help land an interview in the future. My general advice is to speak with Booth for support and try to speak with former interns to understand how the internship is structured.


Guest: What percentage of students get offers to interview (not job offers) for strategy consulting firms?

* Janice Farrar: That totally depends on the numbers of interviews a firm is hosting.  For internship interviews, a company get to invite 75% of their schedule and the other 25% of the schedule is for students to bid on if they weren't invited. For full time interviews, the schedules can be 100% invitational if a firm wants it that way.


Guest: What about strategy and consulting attracted you to this field?

* Rudwan Azmeh: The diversity of work, the fast pace environment, and the ability to collaborate with leaders in industries (both at the firms and at client firms).


Guest: How do people usually go about start recruiting - prep for both strategy consulting and corporate strategy or one more or less prepares for the other?

* Simon Zhu: Many students will recruit for consulting and another industry like corporate strategy, tech, marketing, etc. The limiting factor is typically the time commitment required by consulting recruiting - on average, you can expect to spend anywhere from 15-30 hours per week (including networking, case prep, events, etc.) during consulting recruiting. Given its rigorous nature, students typically prioritize consulting over another industry but it's person-dependent.


Guest: How feasible is it to recruit in a consulting firm outside the US?

* Janice Farrar: Most of the firms don't have work authorization restrictions, so it's very feasible for an international students to secure a job in the US.


Guest: Have any of you felt torn between strategy consulting and investment banking? If yes, what drives your decisions?

* Dallas Cullen: Yes, this is a common struggle and one that I personally dealt with! The decision is highly personal. For me, I did my best to understand what I would be doing in both industries as well as the career progression in both. Then I asked myself which one was a better fit with my working style, and which one would provide me with better opportunities to achieve my long-term career goals. It was a tough decision, but the choice became more obvious after working through these questions.


Guest: What other fields did you recruit for along with management consulting? Did you come into Booth knowing that you wanted to do consulting? And why did you choose management consulting in the end?

* Rudwan Azmeh: I mentioned the other fields I recruited for, so please refer to my previous answer. I knew that I wanted to do consulting going into business school. I chose it because it offers exposure to a variety of functions and industries and allows you to partner with experts, all within a short period. The problems that you solve are also very high impact and are always on the cutting edge (meaning that they are always relevant to current times). Consulting firms really help companies as they are evolving due to current disruptions in industry.


Guest: How prominent is the GMAT in the interview screening process?

* Rudwan Azmeh: If you are at Booth, you shouldn't worry about your GMAT. The GMAT is just a portion of the applications. They evaluate you based on your connection throughout the recruiting process and your resume as a whole. It is honestly just a very small portion of the entire application/process.


Guest: There was a suggestion that students should apply to at least 5 consulting firms. However, what if you only want to work at one or two of the major firms? Is that necessarily a disadvantage?

* Heather Packo: Casting a wide net is never a disadvantage and while there is no magic number, I would strongly advise engaging with more then 1-2 firms. I think you are at a disadvantage if you put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak.


Guest: Thanks for your response. Do Consulting firms in Chicago tend to focus more on some industries than others? Chicago is a massive city and therefore I am certain that all industries will invariably be represented. But are there particular industries, consulting firms tend to focus more on?

* Janice Farrar: Not really for the reason you mentioned. There are a wide variety of industries here so you would get a breath of experience on various project.


Guest: Can you give an overview of what a typical week is like during recruitment? Assuming you're taking three classes in the fall.

* Simon Zhu: A typical week during recruiting depends a lot on where you are in the process. Broadly speaking, the recruiting timeline starts with networking then transitions to interview prep (including case prep). For example, earlier on, a typical week might involve attending many corporate conversations (firm presentations), going to "coffee chats" (1 on 1 or group meetings with recruiters), and even talking to 2nd year students who interned/worked at the firms you're interested in. In the latter stages, the vast majority of your time will be spent doing case prep.


Guest: Do you ever see management consultant professionals going into finance oriented careers after they leave the consulting industry?

* Janice Farrar: It is common for consultants to leave the firm and take an industry position. 


Guest: For those in the panel that who went to business school intending to transition to strategy consulting, why Booth?

* Dallas Cullen: Great question - this was my plan exactly. This is a personal question, but I'll tell you my thought process. Personally, I wanted a program that would allow me the flexibility to build the necessary consulting skills from day one, and provide the internal support to make the transition. Booth's flexible curriculum meant that I could take strategy-oriented courses immediately after starting, and this helped me build the required skills for consulting interviews. Additionally, I had heard great things about Booth's consulting club (MCG), and they exceeded all expectations in regards to support, networking opportunities, case and interview prep, etc.


Guest: Assuming an intern has no experience in the consulting industry, what is your tip on how to sell myself to the recruiter through my resume?

* Simon Zhu: Many people who go into consulting did not come from a consulting background. What firms want to see are typically problem solving, teamwork, and client-facing abilities? As long as you've built some of these skills in your past work experience, I don't think there's any barrier to you showing up well in front of recruiters!


Guest: Since recruiting occurs so early in 1Y, is the time from the start of class to the first interviews sufficiently long to prepare or do you think prepping before getting to campus is beneficial?

* Dallas Cullen: Great question. Recruiting does start quite early, but there is sufficient time to get fully prepared from the start of class to the first interviews. MCG has a structured timeline for you to follow, which allocates a certain amount of time to networking, interview prep, etc. and if you follow that timeline, you will be in great shape come interviews. That said, if you have time to learn about the industry, the essentials of case interviews, etc. it wouldn't hurt to do so before starting class.


Guest: How can I make myself an attractive MBA candidate as a STEM major?

* Rudwan Azmeh: There are MANY individuals with a STEM background in consulting. I would say the biggest thing you would need to do is structure your resume in a way that shows you have transferable skills to consulting.


Guest: As an international student, would it make a difference to my chances of getting an offer if I apply to an office back at my home country, or within the U.S.?

* Janice Farrar: No, it doesn't as most of the firms don't have work authorization restrictions. They are more focused on putting you where they think you would be a good fit as well as where you would want to be.


Guest: Do you think participating in one of Booth's joint programs would hinder or limit my ability to get a job offer from a consulting firm? Would you have any advice for students looking to pursue one of the joint MBA programs?

* Sarah Lu: I don't think doing a joint program would hinder your ability to get an offer, but I would think about your long-term goals if you want to pursue a dual degree. Often you will have multiple summers, so it may affect when and how you want to pursue a consulting internship. For example, I have a friend who is getting an MD MBA and she turned down her FT offer after her summer internship to continue pursuing her medical degree.


Guest: Can you speak to your experiences on an actual lab class or Business Solutions consulting engagement? How are these structured?

* Sarah Lu: I was in Business Solutions Group and found it to be a great experience as well as something I could draw upon during my consulting interviews. The structure is that you rank the projects you are interested in an are selected for one project/client with a team of 4 other students. You work on defining the problem, gathering data, and coming up with a solution that will eventually be presented to both the client and to reps from top consulting firms. 


The project I had was one that I found interesting, and it was a great chance to start "thinking like a consultant." The experience also really improved my PowerPoint skills and my oral presentation skills.  The downside is that it definitely takes a ton of time during a quarter in which you are already very busy with classes, recruiting, and a million other things. But on net I would definitely recommend BSG!


Guest: What are some exit options available post consulting? Typically, how long do employees stay in the consulting industry?

* Heather Packo: This is all dependent on the individual. For example, some folks decide to pursue consulting roles for 2 years and then pivot to industry, while other find consulting the perfect fit and decide to grow within the firm or move to a different firm.


Guest: What is the main factor that differentiates Boothies form other MBA students during your summer internship experience?

* Simon Zhu: I didn't experience much differentiation at a school-level during my summer internship - I thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone and all 19 of us (from 5 different schools) got full-time offers. Given how rigorous the recruiting process is, and given how much each firm emphasizes fit, broadly speaking every intern at firm X will have more commonalities than differences. Overall, I do feel Booth's recruiting process is quite rigorous and competitive vs other schools, if based solely on the fact that Booth is a top feeder school for consulting firms.


Guest: Thanks for your time today! I currently work in a corporate strategy group and am interested in strategy consulting after business school but eventually want to move back to corporate strategy/development. I was curious about opportunities in corporate strategy right out of business school – what do they look like and what are the pros and cons of doing that vs. going to strategy consulting and then corporate strategy? How does the corporate strategy recruiting cycle differ from traditional consulting? Do folks do both?

* Heather Packo: There are a large number of corporate strategy roles available to Boothies both as internships, FT roles..., and we see many people pursue consulting careers post-Booth and then decide (for whatever reason) that they want to either return or pivot to corporate strategy. Many folks decide to recruit for both Corporate Strategy roles and Consulting Roles, and much of this activity comes through campus recruiting. While they are two different processes, there are many similarities and folks can do both successfully. When you get to campus, you can make an appointment with a Career Coach and we can discuss/develop your customized search strategy in more detail.


Guest: How do you think culture and company loyalty remain aspects of importance at consulting firms? With people working on such different projects all the time and serving different clients, is there still a sense of pride and company networking associated with the firm you work for?

* Rudwan Azmeh: Most definitely! What you will find is that each company has a culture that is specific to them that they are extremely focused on. One way they differentiate themselves from other consulting firms is by having different cultures. Now within each firm, you will see people tend to align themselves to different industries or clients as their tenure increases. This means that as you work at a consulting firm you will begin to find your own "family" of people who are just as excited and interested in industries and problems as you are. This in turn creates a micro-culture within the firm and an incredible amount of company loyalty.


Guest: For the students in the group, what has been your favorite part about attending Booth?

* Dallas Cullen: That's a tough question; there are so many great aspects about attending Booth! My personal favorite is the tight-knit student community. You'd be amazed at how close a ~600-person class can get in just one or two quarters. There are so many student activities and social events, and I've made some amazing connections! This has been the best part for me.


Guest: Thanks for your time! I have a question about the hiring process of big firms like MBB. For example, I want to focus on energy industry, and Dallas and Houston offices have stronger specialty on energy. So I will only be interviewed by the people from these firms right?

* Janice Farrar: The first round of interviews may or may not be consultants from those offices.  However, final rounds are normally done in the actual office for which you're interviewing. 


Guest: Is it hard to get admitted into an MBA Program granting that a student has not had any working experience? I understand each student has a unique background but I want to get a general idea about the applicant pool so I can prep myself properly.

* Cristina Ochoa: Hi! The average number of years of work experience for our applicants is 5 years. That is not a minimum, but in order to be competitive within the pool, having around 5 years of work experience would be advantageous.


Guest: Can any of you comment on your experience in the LEAD class and if any of the skillsets developed during that experience was helpful for consulting?

* Rudwan Azmeh: LEAD was one of the best experiences I had at Booth. It gives you the opportunity to be very introspective about who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can develop them throughout your time at Booth. This introspection allows you to formulate better responses to questions during your interviews.


Guest: Thanks for taking the time to answer questions today!  Can you speak a bit more about off-campus recruiting in strategy (i.e., who helps to find Booth alumni at that company if a formal recruiter isn't present, how travel to recruit is managed with classes, what a specialized search looks like)?

* Heather Packo: What you are calling an "off-campus recruiting," we refer to as a specialized search here at Booth. Our Career Coaches will work with you 1:1 to develop you search strategy, and we offer various career programming to support students conducting a specialized search. This will all help you identify companies/contacts/opportunities/etc.