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Consulting

Consulting
For students who are intellectually curious, enjoy solving complex problems, and want to help others achieve their goals, consulting can be a very rewarding career path.

Consulting is a highly collaborative line of work, with consultants acting as an extension of their clients’ teams, tackling the strategic challenges that employees lack time to focus on because they are too busy running their business to take the long view. Consultants diagnose problems and propose solutions for organizations that may be under-performing or that need to de-risk their business decisions. Contrary to popular belief, entry-level consultants do not need to be subject matter experts to be effective. Instead, their value lies in their ability to apply different styles of thinking to solve client challenges and to learn new things quickly as consultants generally work on multiple projects across industries they may know little about.  

Beyond management consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain & Co, and BCG, there are many specialty consulting practices that serve specific industries (e.g., law, government, healthcare, technology, and the environment) or focus on specific business issues (e.g. human capital management and brand strategy). Colby alumni can be found at many of the leading management and specialty consulting firms and, in many cases, form recruiting teams to help Colby students access opportunities at these firms.

Sample Career Paths

Brand Consultation

Brand Strategy Consulting:

Brand strategy is a marketing-focused practice that resides in dedicated branding firms such as Interbrand and Landor, market research firms such as Kantar, ad agencies, and traditional management consulting firms including Deloitte and Bain & Co. which are adding brand strategy to their portfolio of services to provide comprehensive support to their clients. Students in the humanities and social sciences who are curious about the role of culture and context in driving consumer attitudes and behavior find that they are interested in helping brands find their target audience and figure out what to offer them and how to use language to entice them. Alumni build their careers in this space as strategists, market researchers, client account managers, creative directors, business developers, UX designers, and brand managers.

Economic Consultation

Economic Consulting:

This area of consulting is focused on using retrospective, and often unstructured, data to provide evidence in support of high-stakes corporate litigation, such as proving that one company caused harm to another by stealing its intellectual property or by creating an unfair competitive advantage through mergers and acquisitions. Students who pursue economic consulting typically have degrees in mathematics, economics, or computer science and can use an array of data management tools. Most economic consultancies will help early career consultants pursue advanced degrees (Ph.D.s in economics or MBAs).

Environmental Consulting:

Environmental Consulting:

There are a number of different pathways in environmental consulting to pursue, ranging from applied economics (assessing the economic impact of manmade and natural disasters or environmental policy) to fieldwork assessing compliance with environmental regulations to feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Environmental studies and geology majors are most common among students pursuing this area of consulting. 

Healthcare Consultation

Healthcare Consulting:

Students who are drawn to healthcare consulting often have a life sciences or pre-health background or have a personal connection to healthcare. Healthcare consulting does not involve clinical work or lab research. Instead, consultants help biotech and pharmaceutical companies, medical device and diagnostics manufacturers, and health insurers address business issues such as the potential to extend expiring patents, gain physician acceptance of new products, and improve patient access to and compliance with therapeutic regimen. Some alumni in healthcare consulting have pursued MBAs and switched to the ‘client side,’ working for biotech and pharma companies in commercialization or corporate development or to healthcare venture capital firms that invest in them.

Management/Strategy Consulting:

Management/Strategy Consulting:

The majority of students and alumni seek to pursue management consulting, as they are familiar with the leading firms and are eager to address the many types of challenges faced by their clients: optimizing profitability, growing the bottom line, maintaining a competitive advantage amid technological disruption, and more. Management and strategy consulting attracts students of all majors, and it offers interns and entry-level candidates the opportunity to get a broad education before they specialize as they progress in their careers. The exit opportunities from management consulting are wonderfully varied as well: some alumni stay in consulting, while others shift to banking, private equity, or increasingly, business roles in technology companies following an MBA (e.g. corporate strategy and product management roles). Management consulting has also proven a great background for alumni entrepreneurs, as it provides them with the framework for building healthy businesses.

Advice

Skills and Knowledge You’ll Need

A liberal arts education, regardless of major, provides an excellent foundation for consulting, sharpening skills that every firm values:

  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Ability to learn new things quickly
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills (writing, presenting)
  • Collaboration skills
  • Analytic skills

That said, there are a few hard skills and some content areas that would prepare students to stand out as interns or full-time employees:

  • Excel and PowerPoint:  These are the primary tools of business, so mastering them by completing basic and more advanced training modules on LinkedIn Learning before beginning an internship is the best way to become indispensable to your team leader.
  • Business Fundamentals: To prepare for case interviews as well as client projects, it’s critical to understand foundational finance concepts including revenue, fixed and variable costs, profits, return on investment, and payback periods. LinkedIn Learning has great training modules on Financial Accounting Foundations and Business Intelligence.

Prepare Well for Case Interviews 

Most consulting interviews for internships and full-time opportunities include live cases, which require significant advance preparation. Students serious about pursuing a consulting internship or full-time opportunity should begin preparing at least 10-12 weeks in advance of the interview cycle and, after reading through books such as Case in Point and Victor Cheng’s Case Interview Secrets, should practice at least 50 case interviews with peers as interviewer and interviewee.

Use These Resources

In addition to primers on case interview techniques, there are some additional resources that can help students learn more about consulting and prepare for interviews:

  • Colby Consulting: a student-led club with case practice and real consulting projects to give you relevant experiences you can speak about on interviews
  • Consulting Case Prep Google Drive: DavisConnects has created a repository of practice case books from several of the leading MBA programs, recordings of consulting advising workshops, and lists of alumni at leading firms
  • Summer Consulting Case Prep Program: DavisConnects offers a weekly workshop featuring alumni hosts from top 10 consulting firms who walk you through cases and teach consulting concepts
  • Rocketblocks: an online platform that helps students improve their skills with case math drills and live case practice with students of similar abilities around the world
  • ModernGuild: a free consulting career prep program that connects leading firms in search of talent from non-target schools with students
  • Ripplematch: a free platform that matches students with leading firms in search of talent from non-target schools

Attend Consulting Education and Networking Events

Every August, DavisConnects hosts its Consulting EXPO, bringing 15-18 leading management consulting and specialty firms. Both senior alumni and new graduate consultants participate in panels to showcase the breadth of the industry and clarify the work that they do day to day. Students can meet alumni recruiting teams and HR representatives for the firms they are interested in learning more about in advance of recruiting deadlines.

Timeline

Grossman Hall
(207) 859-4140
[email protected]

Office Hours
Monday – Thursday:
8 a.m. – midnight
Friday: 8 a.m – 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday:
9 a.m. – midnight