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Should a doctorate in natural sciences join the consulting industry – who gave it a try?

Someone asked on Jan 31, 2017 - 2 answers

I am in my last year of my PhD and regarding to my future career, the consulting industry left a massive impression on me. I would consider myself more as a generalist instead of an “real” scientist, which I really noticed during my doctorate. My question is now: Is there anybody out there, who joined as a graduated natural scientist, in the end of their twenties, a consulting company? I feel kind of frustrated, by imagine that I would entry the industry on the same level as a master graduate, who are also commonly in their mid-twenties. And even if I would entry the company on a higher level, the expectations are much higher and as a PhD I do not provide the expected skills/knowledge (economical/business part). At the moment I regret that I decided to start a PhD. Even by completing my doctorate abroad, where I increased my skills in a new language almost perfectly, I have the feeling that I didn’t developed myself enough... Does someone have similar thoughts or has already experience he/she would like to share? I would highly appreciate that!


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Francesco replied on Jan 31, 2017
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (2.000+) | Ex BCG | 1.000+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

it is definitely possible to join a consulting company with a PhD in natural science in late twenties, in particular with a background in life science. There are some differences in the way the PhD is perceived as for your entry level according to the country, but normally you will join at a higher level then a master student. For BCG, in particular, while in some countries you would join as a Senior Associate (pre-MBA position), in others you would join as a consultant (post-MBA position). They may indeed have higher expectations compared to a master graduate, and for sure the first months will be pretty challenging; however, they would also take into account the fact that you are coming from a PhD and not from a consulting or strategy background in your initial assessment.

You may see your PhD as a liability now, however for sure it will differentiate you from other candidates, and other consultants if you join a company. In that sense, your difference from the “traditional” background may actually become something that may help you to stand out, both during the interview process and as a consultant.



Nabil (Bill) replied on Jan 31, 2017

The consulting industry is well-known for hiring people from all walks of life and all majors. The only requirement is "having a good head on your shoulders" (in addition, of course, to knowing how to crack a case - but on this point, the resources are quite abundant).

So, study the case interview format, do a couple of case cracking sessions, prepare your resumé and cover letter and go for it.