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How  to Break into Consulting Firms as a Fresh Graduate?

A Brief into the World of Consulting…

Want to make a career in the Big-League Consulting firms?

In the business world, consulting involves engaging in the business of giving expert, professional advice to people and client companies in a specific field. 

Consultants are revered as maestros in their industries and thus, consulting happens to be the most demanded career by fresh graduates. Some consultants work as independent experts, on the other flip side, several people work for big shot consultancies like the BIG 3, i,e.-

  • McKinsey & Company.
  • Boston Consulting Group.
  • Bain & Company.
Fresh graduate careers

Careers in consulting are looked upon as the most competitive career paths globally. To illustrate, Forbes Magazine steadily has ranked McKinsey as the employer with the most demanding interviews stating that only 1% of applicants, in the concrete, make the cut- which is pretty much lower than Harvard’s acceptance rate in its prestigious MBA program.

But hang loose for a moment!

We are here to help you lay the groundwork to set your foot into the prestigious consulting firms. 

So, let us demystify how you as a recent graduate can gain ground in top-tier consulting firms (especially the Big3).

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What are Consulting Firms Looking for?

The job market for recent graduates is tough and competitive due to which employers seek highly advanced knowledge and specific skills in applicants to their firms. Amid such prerequisites, academic success, leadership & initiative skills, and other interpersonal skills play a massive role. 

In the broadest sense, the road to building a career in consulting starts with a stellar academic record and robust profile of the applicant. In the light of recent graduates willing to map a career path while envisioning success in the top consulting firms, it’s imperative to mull over the call of a college brand name and its association with one’s profile.

As previously mentioned, that about 1% of applicants are accepted by McKinsey- which is substantially a much lower acceptance rate, it’s comprehensible that such pre-eminent firms seek graduates from top-tier B-schools. Indicatively, the consulting industry is engulfed with graduates holding Master’s degrees and likewise, the upcoming consultants (graduates) are required to have a master’s degree qualification from an esteemed business school. 

A master’s degree from an elite business school ensures employers that the prospective candidate has a refined knowledge base and skill set with a deeply rooted gusto to perform with brilliance in the firm.

Why choose Consulting as a Career?

If you’re empowered to employ your analytical and cognitive skills in an intellectually challenging environment to solve complex business problems, then consulting is the right walk of life for you.

Consultants work in an organization with purposes to help sow the seeds of generating competitive advantage, maximizing growth potential, and improving overall business performance through their consulting skills.

But what makes consulting the most favored career choice?

Here are some of the most well-known reasons-

#1  You’ll get to work with senior executives & company-wide strategic problems 

Embarking on the journey of a consultant is truly an EXCEPTIONAL opportunity. 

This can be understood like this- as a recently graduated consultant, you will work directly with CEOs and their executive teams. This will enable you to work in a bustling business setting and develop a lot of soft skills along the way that will shape you to take up higher positions as you go up the corporate ladder. Working in such a demanding position to solve complex business and strategic problems will considerably embolden your abilities and skills.     

On the flip side, your peers working in other industries will not get this chance in the initial years of their careers. Hence, they will have to wait for several promotions to have the essence and exposure of working with their company’s CEO and top-level professional.

#2  You’ll have a host of learning & development opportunities along the way 

As a consultant, you will learn a lot very quickly while working on a number of projects, thereby stimulating your brain to think of trailblazing ideas and strategic courses of action. Working on distinct projects from time to time will provide you with knowledge of various industries and topics from scratch.

Being hit by the question ‘Why consulting’, you shall not shy away from touching the aspect of acquiring knowledge of various industries and leaning at a fast face. 

The more high-intensity projects you will work on, the more sizable would be your learning on-the-job.   

#3  You’ll build a vast, valuable network with ingenious professionals

You will meet several distinct people in consulting. During the tenure of each project, you will work with different sizes of teams. For instance, for a 3 months project you might work with about 5 consultants. So, this way you will have worked with 20 different colleagues in a year, and so on. Along the same lines, you can imagine the robustness of your network in the next 5-10 years. 

On top of this, you will also interact and build relations with the clients and all the people you will meet in your office. Teaming up and working with so many bright people will turn out as a brilliant opportunity that you will not get elsewhere just like in consulting. 

#4  You’ll BEAT the average pay scale

It’s no top-secret that consulting is rather a highly lucrative field. As an entry-level consultant straight out of your University with a master’s degree you could take home earnings about $80k initially. And with a master’s degree from a top-tier B-school, these remunerative figures can grow to around $150k. This is so much more than what’s drawn from most jobs in other industries. 

In fact, most school’s placement records, over the years, have shown a significant number of graduates being placed in the consulting sector in contrast to others like finance, marketing, etc. Since premium B-schools have an extraordinary cohort, consulting companies like the BIG 3 prefer such refined candidates to be applying to thor jobs. For a B-school graduate with a master’s degree, consulting does beat out others when it comes to earning well- however, this should never entirely be the case to pursue a career in consulting. 

#5  You will have a great take-off point for your career ahead

Most important of all, taking off your career in consulting can offer you a great springboard to several other significant opportunities. 

As a graduate of a prestigious business school, part of the attractiveness comes from the learning you have assimilated and the other part comes from acknowledging that you had what it took to get in the tough-competitive spot in the first place. Thus, with a solid academic foundation and career in consulting, you can have the right launch pad to spring into advanced, prolific career paths.

With insights into the world of consulting and knowledge of the significance of top B-school applicants, it’s about time to look at the top master’s degree programs that can land you in consulting. 

Which MSc/Masters programs can help you prepare for a career in Consulting?

Today, elite B-school MBA graduates are known to remain the titlist of excellence.

With greater reflection, it won’t be wrong to say that MBA graduates are being looked upon as cookie-cutters, especially those from average ranking business schools. With the sands of time, several masters (specialized) degree programs offered by top universities have come to the aid of several aspiring students who are willing to break into top consulting firms at an early age.

So, below are listed the prominent Master’s programs coming to rescue aspiring, early graduate consultants along with TOP 5 Schools for each degree program-

1. Masters in Management- MiM

  • University of St Gallen
  • HEC Paris
  • Essec Business School
  • London Business School
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

2. Masters in Business Analytics- MSBA

    • MIT (Sloan)
    • UCLA (Anderson)
    • ESSEC Business School
    • Texas (McCombs)
    • Imperial College Business School

3. Masters in Engineering Management- MEM

    • Cornell University
    • Dartmouth College
    • MIT
    • Johns Hopkins University
    • Northwestern University

4. MSc Strategic Management  

    • HEC Paris
    • Vaasa University of Applied Sciences
    • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
    • Essec Business School
    • ESADE

How can you build a Sturdy Profile for Entry into Consulting?

  • Courses & Certifications 

Taking up specialization courses and certifications can inevitably help you advance your skills and capabilities. Not just this, it also demonstrates your academic prowess in a certain field whilst embellishing your resume. For instance, online courses offered by Coursera and universities, language certifications, etc. play a significant role in conveying your success for the intended finance role

  • Full-time Work Experience & Quality Internships

Your professional industrial experience will help you gain an edge over other b-school applicants. Be it full-time job experience or a few months of internship, your industrial exposure will only solidify your chances and strengthen your application. Working knowledge of a specific function can immensely help you in this regard. Besides gaining experience in a related field of interest, it’s also ideal to work for a prestigious, top-tier company as the brand name adorns your profile for a steady career. 

  • Extracurricular Activities

Just like top universities, employers at top companies also look for candidates with holistic profiles. Thus, not just academics and internships, your participation in outside the classroom activities, CSR initiatives at the workplace, and the like, will help exhibit your keenness and enthusiasm on multiple fronts. To put it precisely, your extracurricular engagements convey your proactiveness to contribute to the concerned school’s community. Extracurricular Activities are a great way to showcase your skills like leadership, communication, management skills, etc. While good grades show an academically strong background, extracurriculars provide an insight into your intrinsic qualities, personality, and attitudes. 

Even though getting a job position in these prestigious companies is quite difficult, it is not an impossible feat. And it all starts with your educational background and embellishing the brand name of an esteemed institution on your CV. Thus, studying in elite business schools would open a lot of heavy doors for you, providing you with stellar opportunities that once seemed impossible to seize. 

Applying to a top-tier university is no walk in the park. With thousands of applicants applying for a small-size cohort, you can convert your odds into probability of winning an admit by strengthening the quality of yourapplication materials- essays, letter of recommendation, rsume, etc. At MIM essay, we have analyzed 50,000+ applicant profiles to crack the code of how B-schools actually analyze applications. Thus, with our comprehensive essay editing service, where our editors and consultants thrive to polish your application materials, we can help you win an admit in your target schools and make your application gracefully standout from a huge competitive pool of applicants.

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