ZS Associates, the global consulting firm, is cutting the size of its 2024 undergraduate internship cohort by 50%. This is on top of the fact that start dates for many new hires – who were offered in 2022 and 2023 – have been pushed back to January 2024. This decision represents a marked departure from the firm’s traditional recruitment practices and is the most dramatic cutback to an internship program that Management Consulted has seen.
ZS Associates has long been recognized for its vibrant internship program, offering undergraduates a glimpse into the world of management consulting, analytics, and sales and marketing services. However, the drastic cut in the number of opportunities implies an evolving corporate strategy amid an uncertain business environment. Prospective interns now face intensified competition, given the reduced availability of placements.
However, pushing back the start dates for new hires is a not-surprising move given the similar decisions that other consulting firms have made this year. Still, it is a bit of a surprise given the incredible growth trajectory that ZS Associates has been on over the last couple of years. The reasons behind this decision remain speculative. It could be a consequence of several factors, from operational challenges, reshuffling of business strategy, realignment of human resource utilization, less attrition than expected, or a lighter-than-expected project pipeline.
The decision raises critical questions about ZS’s hiring strategies in future years. At this moment, we don’t expect other firms to make as drastic a cut to their internship programs. For those of you – especially rising undergraduate juniors – seeking opportunities at ZS Associates, the new scenario may necessitate a reshuffling of your target firms.
The firm’s bold move reflects the ever-evolving landscape of employment and recruitment within the consulting industry, and is a good reminder for us all that flexibility and adaptability continue to be keys to success for consulting recruiting.