This article addresses consulting-related extracurricular activities and is aimed towards undergrads, MBAs, and other students.
So you’ve landed a spot at a pretty good college/b-school. Now, all you have to do is do well in classes, and you’ll automatically find a great consulting job, right? Wrong.
Actively contributing to consulting-related extracurricular activities doesn’t just look good on your resume. It can help you perform better on consulting interviews and even help develop the skills to perform well after starting your consulting job.
Joining the consulting club on campus is an obvious first step. However, after serving hundreds of clients using our resume editing and interview services, we’ve noticed that many people simply stop there. Simply mentioning membership in the consulting club doesn’t help your candidacy much. You should try to get a leadership position on the club, preferably President or another position that allows you to directly contact consulting firms (e.g. External Liaison, Vice President of Employer Relations). This will give you a lot more opportunities to network with consulting firms compared to people who are simply members of consulting clubs. Make sure to mention your club activities on your resume and in your interview rather than just stating your position name. Regardless of what position you have in the consulting club, you need to be proactive. Leverage your school’s alumni network and LinkedIn to connect with more consultants and invite them to speak at your school. If you’re lucky, some consultants might even agree to help out in running a mock case interview session for your club.
Some consulting clubs are only about networking, speakers, and interview prep, but other consulting clubs actually perform consulting services for companies and organizations (often for free). This can happen even at the undergraduate level; Stanford Consulting is one example. This may take a great amount of work reaching out to companies, marketing services, developing strategies, and coordinating classmates, but will pay off greatly in terms of experience gained, and you can talk about such consulting engagements in your interviews. You don’t necessarily have to aim at Fortune 500 clients, which would be difficult; you might provide your consulting services to local small businesses or even non-profit organizations in developing countries.
There are actually many other activities that can help you besides joining the main consulting club. There may be similar clubs such as the Operations Management Club or the General Management Club. Some schools offer courses that involve significant consulting field work in another country, such Global Consulting Practicum at Wharton or the Global Entrepreneurship Lab at MIT Sloan. You could also find a professor that engages in external consulting and offer to contribute. Finally, even if you are not involved in consulting activities, any leadership position in a student organization is much better than not being involved in extracurriculars at all.
What if your school doesn’t have a consulting club? That’s actually great, because that means you can become the founder of your school’s consulting club and you’ll be able to talk about the great leadership accomplishments you’ve had.
Don’t underestimate the value of such extracurricular experiences for interviews, resumes, and cover letters. Talking about how you created impact for a real client of your consulting organization is infinitely more effective than talking about how you created a great business plan for a virtual company in class and received an A on it.
If you’ve had any interesting consulting-related experiences at your school, it would be great if you could write a comment about them here. Stay tuned for more MBA-related articles.
These strategies to obtain a consulting job are also useful for those who took online MBA programs.
About the Author:
The author of this article is a long-time team member of Management Consulted and has extensive experience in consulting and at bulge-bracket investment banks, including interviewing MBA applicants. He has requested anonymity to protect his employer.