You’re no longer the tiny freshman on campus you were one short year ago – you’ve moved up in the world! As a sophomore, you actually know where you are on campus and perhaps even what you’d like to do after graduation.
Believe it or not, this is the time to think strategically about next steps to make sure you are well prepared to land that dream internship next year. What did you do last summer? You finished your first year and celebrated, but then what? Do you have anything to put on your resume? No problem if you don’t. Start now. Did you join any organizations on campus? Is there a particular one you want to invest in? Is it a personal, professional, or academic organization? This is the time to take a leadership role in that organization and start making an impact.
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard many times already that leadership roles are important, but have you ever understood why? One day – sooner than you think – you will be managing people, projects, and budgets. As a leader in an organization, you get to put this hat on now and execute a plan to achieve larger impact on the resources (people, dues, etc.) that you have. You are forced to think about strategy and culture and how to best blend the two. You’ll raise strategic questions like “What will happen to our membership numbers if we raise dues?” or “How can we make a change in how we measure value-add to in our recruitment process to have more engaged members?” On a very small scale, these are the types of questions that you’ll have to ask for a client on a consulting engagement and are great transferable skillets to display on your resume during your interview.
Do you spend your time volunteering on your own within the community or on your campus with an organization? Great! This is a great way to showcase your passions, self-motivation, and drive to effect change in many different spheres. Our advice? Aim to take on more professional responsibilities while still volunteering. For example, if you love volunteering with The Boys and Girls Club, reach out and ask your point of contact if you can run a fundraising campaign or manage logistics for their next large event. This will be immensely helpful for you to highlight that you know how to take the lead on a project, understand pain points, develop solutions, recommend changes, and measure the value you were able to add.
So you’ve taken initiative and drove impressive change for a local non-profit or on-campus organization. What next? Begin to network and interview now! Don’t wait until your junior or senior year to walk into a career fair or secure an interview. If you are at a target school (meaning consulting firms recruit on your campus), go to job fairs, info sessions, or coffee chats. Refine your elevator pitch, get comfortable telling your own story, and practice asking the right questions. These often won’t come naturally to you, so practice while the stakes are still fairly low.
Many firms, including the Big 4 (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY) have specific “internships” for first and second-year students that are often called leadership programs. Deloitte’s premier leadership program is called the “Discovery Internship,” and is a great way to gain firsthand exposure to the firm, learn what consulting is really like, and build solid connections for next year’s internship recruiting cycle. Having actual experience will give you credibility when you have to answer fit questions such as “Why us?” or “Why should we hire you?”
What if you don’t attend a target school? You do have a couple of options – land a position in a leadership program offered by an F500 or “brand name” company that comes to campus. This experience will set you worlds apart from the competition when consulting recruiting comes around. Our 2nd suggestion is a little sneaky: are there target schools in your city or region? You can find out online when they are having job fairs, and just drop in! Consultants love candidates who display drive and determination; go, have fun, make connections, and follow-up afterwards.
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