What is Consulting?

There are many types of consulting: management consulting, technical consulting, and internal consulting, etc.  In this section, we are going to focus mostly on management consulting. To learn about other forms of consulting, please look at your degree-specific toolkit in this course (click on “Modules” and scroll to the bottom of the page). Management consulting is what we mostly hear about and it's done by big companies like McKinsey, Ernst and Young, Bain, Accenture, Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, etc. as well as smaller “boutique consulting firms”.

Consulting Work & Careers

When you work for one of these big consulting firms you will start as a generalist. You will engage with a variety of corporate clients and learn a lot about different industries and corporate management. These firms have clear career paths that guide your development in the firm. Later in your career you might be assigned to a particular industry or focus area. Jobs in the smaller firms often offer the chance to work with a specific industry from the beginning of your career. Consulting requires long hours (12 hour days) and lots of travel. The usual travel schedule is Monday-Thursday weekly with Friday in your main office. As a consultant you may get exposure to a lot of different industries and learn a lot about business. You will work with a lot of clients, and build your analytical and presentation skills.


Consulting firms concentrate their on-campus recruiting at the undergraduate level and in Business Schools. This makes it a little more challenging for a Master's degree student. A few, like BCG, will recruit for other Master's degrees such as Public Administration (SIPA). They often offer employer sessions through campus consulting clubs. On their websites many now advertise webinars that you can register to attend. Consulting firms usually have two parts of their career site – “campus or students” and “experienced hires”. You will also find their internships in the “campus or students” section. Most of the big firms do their summer internship recruitment in the late summer (later July & August) and fall for the next summer. Start by looking at the career pages of the consulting firms to learn more about their recruitment process and how to apply. Many also have recruiters for each school and you can try to contact them. Our alumni in the consulting field highly recommend that you make connections with people inside firms and work through them to get hired.


Consulting interviews are different from other interviews. They usually have two parts: the Case Interview and the fit interview. Please see the resources below to learn more and to prepare. It's really important that you begin preparing 6 months before you have an interview. It's recommended that you join a Consulting Club to practice case interviews and meet consulting firm representatives. Here is the link to the Columbia University Graduate Consulting Club. Check out additional student clubs in your department.


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