Top Tips for Aspiring Consultants

Fancy a career as a consultant? Good choice! It’s a job that’ll give you plenty of variety, a chance to take your interests to a highly advanced level, and if you reach the top of your field you could eventually be looking at a six-figure salary.

But aspiring consultants beware: there’s plenty of competition out there for these positions, so you’ll have to start putting in the groundwork at university if you’re sure this is the route you want to take. Here are a few tips to help…

Be sure about where you want to specialise as a consultant…

Consulting is an extremely mixed bag, and you’re going to have to acquire skills in a certain field in order to specialise. There are business consultants, actuarial consultants, investment consultants, strategy consultants, management consultants and IT consultants to name a few! You can investigate different areas of consulting by exploring the Industry Breakdown section.

Start building your knowledge now…

Consultants have authoritative knowledge in their field, and it’s never too soon to start developing your commercial awareness, gaining knowledge of the movers and shakers in your chosen industry and getting into good habits for keeping up to date with industry developments and breaking news.

Research what kinds of skills you’ll need for a consultancy roles and think about what you could be doing now at university, or as a graduate, to develop these. Are there any finance societies you could join which could open up some doors for you to learn new skills?

Effective communication skills are paramount as a consultant, so what activities could you do to demonstrate you’ve got this as a string to your bow? If technology is your area, you’re going to need an exceptionally high level of technical knowledge to make it as a consultant, so concentrate on getting all you can from your degree, as well as starting to build up knowledge of how things work in practice now through work experience….

Talking of work experience…get some!

An internship with a firm that provides consulting and advisory services, particularly if it has services in an area you’d like to specialise in, can be a great way of getting a real insight into the role. Crucially, it’ll also give you the chance to make some industry contacts!

The majority of internships available take place over the summer and are usually paid. The following companies have annual internship programmes:

  • PwC
  • Deloitte
  • Mazars
  • EY
  • BDO

Of course, there are many more firms have consulting and advisory services as part of their portfolio. Unfortunately not all will currently offer internships, however it may still be worth sending off a well-tailored speculative application or two. Some firms have a form you can fill out too so that they can keep your details on file just in case a suitable temporary position does come up. Be proactive in your search – sometimes it’s about creating your own opportunities!

Network at careers fairs & insight days…

Your university finance society will organise events which will allow you to meet representatives of consultancies and professional services firms too, so don’t miss out on these opportunities to learn more and make some contacts.

Some companies (particularly the Big Four firms, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY) also run insight days to help you find out more about the industry. These events can often also be the first wrung on the ladder for an eventual graduate position with the firm if you make a good impression.