Post-undergrad breaking into consulting

Anonymous A asked on Jun 16, 2019 - 3 answers


I recently just graduated (in May) with a finance degree from one of the top 3 universities in Canada. I didn't really know about consulting until my very last year and am now looking to break into the industry but find it a bit hard to position myself.

I reached out to some of the firms (MBB, big 4, botique...) and most told me to apply as an "experienced" hire since I graduated, however I just graduated and am concerned that I won't actually be able to compete with those who have actual work experience.

One appraoch I have been trying is networking. It's been really helpful in terms of getting to know the company and the people, but I realize it doesn't necessarly gaurantee a referral. Most people also don't seem to know how to help since they either got in during undegrad or after having experience.

I know I could work for a year or two then go in, but would much prefer going straight into consulting if possible as its something I really want to do!

Has anyone ever seen/experienced or has advice appraoching this situation?

Thanks in advance, really appreciate it!

I have also included my grade and work experience below if it helps:

CGPA: 3.52/4.00

Experience: started my own podcast recently, 2 finance internships (both at startups), was part of a cultural club for 4 years, worked part-time as waitress (1 year), and won a case competition hosted by the Graduate Management Consulting Association


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Anonymous replied on Jun 16, 2019

Hi Anonymous,

These companies care just as much (if not more) about potential than experience! You would come in as an associate, but I know people who have joined with just degrees and no prior work experience - MBB will train you.

I recommend highlighting your academic credentials, your finance internships and the startups (your role in them and your learnings from watching them as a startup), and your podcast as this shows a unique side to you!

Keep up the networking as it's a great way to show who you are, not just the what you've done that shows on the resume. While networking, make sure you can really articulate why you want to move into consulting - show why it interests you so much!

Best of luck :)

Hi Ian, thanks for your advice! I think I have a better understanding of what companies look for now, and it seems it's more about demonstrating your understanding/passion for the industry and how you "package" your personal experiences. Wanted to also thank you for the networking tips since its something I'm still working on so I thought it was really helpful : ) — Anonymous A on Jun 16, 2019

replied on Jun 16, 2019
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Networking will help. Here are some tips on consulting networking. You can do several things:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or web sites, subscribe for newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open for everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep.

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings. All people like giving an advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise

7) If you are a graduate just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help.

Good luck!

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replied on Jun 19, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

the best process to follow at your stage really depends on the application deadlines. If it still possible to apply for a graduate role, the best thing you can do is to network a referral (at the link below you can find some tips):

If the deadline has passed and you have to look for a different job, those that offer more options for a transition later on are:

  • Strategy roles in top brands
  • Investment banking

Hope this helps,