Continuing a Liberal Arts Education through Consulting
I’m currently back in school as a first year MBA student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. It’s a lot of fun being in school again and I’m fully embracing getting to wear shorts year-round. Prior to returning to business school, I spent five years at Deloitte doing strategy consulting. As a math major at Hamilton, I was unsure what my options were after school, beyond becoming an actuary or a math professor. I knew I enjoyed analytical problem solving, but it wasn’t until someone described consulting as “the liberal arts of entry level jobs” that I started pursuing opportunities in management consulting.
I joined Deloitte in the D.C. office, but quickly realized that I wanted to live somewhere closer to the mountains. Aside from no longer being able to see your closest friends at the Pub or Commons every day, one of the toughest adjustments I encountered after school was attempting to make my limited free time rewarding. Fortunately, I was able to transfer out to Deloitte’s Denver office and spent the next four years hiking and skiing every weekend.
It’s always tough to get a sense of what consultants do on a daily basis because they’ll most often tell you – it depends. At a high level, companies or government organizations will hire third party consulting firms to help them address a key strategic challenge they are facing (e.g. how can we improve our IT organization to better meet the needs of the company, or how do we best align operations after a recent acquisition of another company). At the analyst level, you will spend much of your time conducting data analysis in Excel, building presentations in PowerPoint (consultants do everything in PPT), supporting your project manager during interviews or client meetings, and helping with any ad hoc requests from the client.
In terms of advice I have for current students – I would start by getting the lay of the land. Knowing who the big consulting firms are and what differentiates them will be helpful as you try to identify potential opportunities. Look at both the company websites, but also any site that provides a high-level comparison of firms. Speak with Career Center counselors who might be able to help you better understand whether consulting might be a good fit for your interests and ask them to provide a list of recent grads who are working at various firms. I remember speaking with many Hamilton students during my early years at Deloitte and definitely welcomed a 30 minute phone call to break up a day at the office. Having phone calls with recent grads is a safe first step. Treat those opportunities as ways to learn about different types of projects and identify any bits of information that you can highlight when speaking with someone more senior at the firm or during your cover letter/interview.
Any time you reach out to someone senior, treat it as an interview. I remember making a few mistakes as a junior or senior by not being prepared as much as I should have been. As painful as it is, work with the Career Center to improve your informational networking and interviewing skills. They will be very valuable for whatever career you choose! And regardless of how good you get at it now, if you return to business school, you will be spending countless hours fine tuning those skills.
If you’re interested in consulting, there are a few key skills that any firm will be looking for when reviewing your resume: quantitative analysis, problem solving, communication, team work, and leadership. Be sure to highlight these as much as possible throughout your application. Be organized and precise in your efforts, create a tracker to record who you’ve spoken with or plan to reach out to, send thank you emails, and tailor your application as much as possible to the specific company.
I’ll close out with where I plan to go next in my career. The reason I decided to return to business school stems from my love of the outdoors. I’m hoping to transition careers into a corporate sustainability role, helping companies identify opportunities to reduce their environmental impact. I double minored in environmental studies and geoscience at Hamilton and am excited to be combining my interest in the environment with my consulting skill set. Sustainability is an area that companies are increasingly focusing on and I hope to use the collective power of businesses to transition towards a more sustainable society. Regardless of the type of career you choose, identify your greatest lever and use that to create as big of an impact possible.
Stephen Rosenman '13 majored in Math while at Hamilton. He is currently in his first year at he UCLA Anderson School of Management. Prior to going to business school, Stephen spent five years at Deloitte doing strategy consulting.