Engineering To Consulting: Career Change Strategy

Going from engineering to consulting is a great move. That’s why we’ve created a series on entering consulting from “non-business” backgrounds – other posts include entering from liberal arts/humanities degrees and non-MBA grad schools.

It’s very common for engineers to be interested in consulting. It’s a professionally demanding, well-compensated job which opens many doors in business and beyond.

Engineering to Consulting, why consulting after engineering, career change from engineering to management consulting

Listen to our conversation with Prachi Agrawal, a former engineer who transitioned to consulting at BCG. It’s packed full of tips and insights for those of you looking to make the same leap.

Why Consulting After Engineering

As an engineer – whether that’s electrical engineering, computer science, civil engineering, or any of the other quantitative and analytical fields – you may have the following concerns:

  • You don’t have enough business experience on your resume
  • You don’t understand the consulting industry sufficiently
  • Recruiters won’t give you a fair shot since they assume you have no people-skills – preferring numbers and analytics
  • You don’t have any recruiting preparation – in particular, how to tackle consulting interviews and case studies

In this post, we’ll address each of the above concerns, discuss what strengths you should market and develop, and share tips that will serve you well during the management consulting recruiting process. We can tell you, it is possible to go from engineering to consulting!

Engineering to Consulting Questions:

What options are available as an engineer?

    • Global management consulting firms – increasingly quantitative, increasingly analytical, and some of them (e.g., McKinsey) have a reputation for hiring engineers, particularly in regions that serve high-tech clients
    • Boutique consulting firms – especially those with technology-focused industry specializations (eg, semiconductors, telecom)
    • Technology consulting firms – firms such as Accenture and IBM Business Consulting provide technology-heavy support and solutions to clients

What are your strengths as an engineer?

    • Quantitative/analytical skills – applicants that have strong analytical capabilities are at an advantage. These skills are helpful with modeling (financial, operational), statistical analysis, and just basic analytical reasoning
    • Success in a “tough” undergraduate major – generally speaking, engineering majors are tougher to complete – there’s more work involved and the academic content is more complex. Having a strong GPA in an engineering major shows recruiters that you work hard to accomplish your goals

How do you mitigate perceived weaknesses as an engineer?

In the order listed above:

    • Business experience – if you’re still in college, find business-related summer internships and part-time jobs during the school year (provided you can manage the workload). If you’re not, tailor your resume to focus on skills and experiences that consultants look for, such as people-leadership, quantitative impact, and entrepreneurial initiative
    • Insufficient understanding of management consulting – it’s your responsibility to learn as much as you can. Check out our FREE Case Interview Prep Course; email us with questions; network with contacts in the industry
    • Recruiting biases against engineers – you can counter this by focusing on the following: presentation skills (practice interviews as much as you can); have a strong story about why you want to enter the industry; show a clear understanding of business news and current events; highlight your people-skills and teamwork/leadership experiences in the resume and interviews
    • Insufficient recruiting preparation – like the second point, it’s dependent on the time and effort you invest; we offer a resume edit and coaching service that you can look into; read this article and follow its advice

Think you have what it takes? Ready to make the leap from engineering to consulting? Most engineers should begin with our R/CL editing package – we’ll help you tell your story and display your relevant skills, as well as help you develop a personalized networking plan. In short – we’ve got the strategies and tips to help you prepare for one of the hardest recruiting processes of your life.


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Filed Under: consulting internship, consulting jobs, consulting recruiting