Graduates all seem to want to be management consultants. You are probably one of them! But what does it really offer you that other jobs don’t? Many budding consultants can’t answer this question to themselves or to recruiters, so we compiled some of our ideas.
The number one reason that attracts people to consulting is the skill-set. You learn quickly on the job and develop even faster. Even a junior analyst might present to c-suite executives, execute complex analysis and work in a high octane team. Therefore, the gradient of the learning curve is incredibly steep. You are also exposed to very established people in your own company from the beginning. In a small team of 4-5 there is likely to be a Partner. Being able to work with someone so senior at such an early career stage is priceless. Not just for the pressure, but also for the simple acumen of managing high expectations. This is something Target Jobs touch on in their post about why they get so many students on their platform applying for consulting.
Training to be a consultant is genuinely difficult. It isn’t just the obvious use of Excel functions and Powerpoint, but its whole range of business skills. The top firms even teach skills for communication like compelling body language, tone etc. This typically last about a month at most firms. It usually includes a stay for the whole cohort in a hotel out of town. Perhaps above all, anyone hiring a consultant just knows that they are hiring a trained professional. Compared with hiring someone out of a start-up who wouldn’t have been through such a rigorous process, this is a great reason for anyone to become a consultant.
This extraordinary personal development equips consultants to work in exciting spaces after consulting. The classic exit opportunities are into traditional companies. This is typically your FTSE 100 types which sell a product or service. Over 40% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have worked for McKinsey, Bain or BCG. More recently, many top consultants have moved into private equity and hedge funds, which often hire exclusively from top banks and consultancies. These attract the more financially oriented consultants, or those who are simply after an early retirement. Every year there are more and more opportunities like these that spring up.
Last but not least
Consultancy has a couple other key features which set it apart. As an analyst in a bank or an accountancy or law firm, you work almost exclusively at your desk. A junior consultant is on the move. That includes travelling to and working at a client site, where the job is hands-on and interpersonal.
The actual work is also dynamic. Consultants will interview a company’s employees and explore their facilities as part of their analysis. Although the salary is slightly less than other financial services jobs, the benefits of seeing the world and enjoying expensed hotel trips often outweigh the remuneration.
For more on how firms engage with students and create consultancy’s aura, we highly recommend William Deresiewicz’s book, Excellent Sheep.
If you wondering about how to answer this question in a cover letter, check out some of our advice.