The Consulting Academy @ MSU prepares students, admitted via a competitive selection process, for careers in management consulting. Through a variety of academic and professional activities, the Consulting Academy @ MSU prepares these students for the highly selective and unique hiring process used by consulting firms.
Management consulting is an outstanding way to begin a career for many reasons including:
Some firms hire undergraduates for a period of 2-3 years with the intent that they will leave to pursue graduate education. A subset of these firms sponsor select hires to attend graduate school, paying (some of) their education costs. In exchange, the employee commits to return to the firm for a stated time (e.g., two years) or reimburses the firm on a prorated basis. Visit the Institute of Management Consultants USA or listen to podcasts at ConsultingScoop.com for more information on management consulting.
Unlike a student organization, the Consulting Academy does not hold regular weekly meetings. Students admitted to the academy are encouraged to participate in a student consulting club of interest, attend the information and training sessions the Consulting Academy holds and practice for interviews with other admitted students. While the Consulting Academy does not mandate attendance at a weekly meeting, it does require a considerable commitment of time and energy. Students report spending the most time honing their case interviewing skills.
Undergraduate students who meet the following criteria are eligible to complete a paper application.
Applications from undergraduates are accepted once each semester. The fall 2019 semester deadline is September 23 at 8:00 am. Students interested in applying to the Consulting Academy @ MSU should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their resume which must have their SAT or ACT score and cumulative GPA on it. And, a personal statement indicating their interests in a management consulting career and being involved in the Consulting Academy @ MSU. Students chosen from the written application pool will participate in interviews with the Consulting Academy’s directors and current students. STUDENTS ACCEPTED INTO THE ACADEMY MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR CASE INTERVIEW TRAINING ON 10/11 & 10/12. The Consulting Academy will hold company information sessions, informal conversations with alumni in the industry, etc. for prospects prior to the application deadline.
As is happening with campus recruiting in general, consulting firms typically start their internship and full-time hiring in September just as soon as classes resume. Deadlines and processes vary by firm, but are likely to include an online application, one or two phone screens for “fit,” and both behavioral and case interviews for the successful candidate. Firms may assign a “buddy” to practice a few case interviews with its candidates, but the applicant must do the bulk of case practice independently. Many successful candidates indicate they did 30-50 practice cases as part of their preparation. Brain teasers, mental math tests and market-sizing questions are common, as well.
There are a number of resource materials available to students to practice case interviews. A good place to start are the websites of consulting firms. Under the “Careers” tab, they generally offer sample case interviews for students to try. In addition to reading books and watching videos, it is important to practice with a capable partner willing to critique your performance. The Consulting Academy will also offer training sessions, as well.
Many MSU alumni have or had consulting positions at a variety of consulting firms, including international, regional and boutique organizations. Some individuals make their career in consulting; others join for a lesser time, then choose to pursue other types of positions or return to graduate school. Students must do considerable networking with alumni and employees in an effort to secure internship and full-time position interviews. The Consulting Academy will assist students in connecting with firms, primarily through these alumni. The Consulting Academy has developed an alumni directory, available to admitted students, to assist with this activity.
Many consulting firms initially screen campus-based applicants on both their GPA and their standardized test scores: ACT/SAT for undergraduates and GMAT/GRE for graduate students. (Yes, undergraduates, some firms consider test scores you earned in your junior year of high school.) Candidates must demonstrate exceptional ability in each of the areas below:
General management consulting firms typically do not have a strong preference for any particular academic focus. Rather, they seek candidates from a variety of backgrounds (business, engineering, liberal arts, etc.) to foster diversity of thought and approach to problem solving. All candidates, without regard to their major, must demonstrate the skills noted above.
Management consulting firms with subject-area practices and specialized (niche) consulting firms (those with focused expertise in information technology, supply chain management, life sciences as examples) seek majors relevant to their focus.
Consulting firms consider previous work experience for both graduate and undergraduate applicants. However, many consulting firms do not offer internships; those that do may offer fewer internships than they have full-time openings after graduation. Internships with client firms (Fortune 500 companies for the large consulting firms) can be advantageous. Consulting firms value unique community service projects at home or abroad. In addition, the experience of starting your own business (successfully or not) can enhance a candidate’s appeal. Leadership experience gained through student organizations is a plus, especially a role that results in stories of working through challenges faced. Involvement in a student-run consulting club that incorporates case interview practice is not a requirement but highly preferred.
There are Michigan State University alumni working in management consulting positions across all the major consulting firms nationally. Students in the Consulting Academy @ MSU have special opportunities to gain insight from MSU alumni visits and build networking connections in the industry at a very early stage in their careers as a result.
B.A. International Relations, Minor in French, Michigan State University (2014)
“After working in consulting for over a year, I continue to be surprised by the dramatic differences between each project. Each client has a unique goal or challenge, culture, and a new work approach is taken for every single project. It is a perfect career for those who enjoy continuously learning, being challenged and working with a team to develop strategies and creatively problem solve.”
Executive MBA from Michigan State University (2018); MS in Supply Chain Management from U of M Dearborn; BS in Marketing from Florida State University
“The industry exposure in Consulting is fantastic. I’ve been blessed in my four years to work within Automotive, CPG, Pharma, and Med Device clients on a variety of topics. At the same time, I love working with people and consulting helps build your team work and client management skills as well.
B.A. Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University (2019); Consulting Academy @ MSU Alumni
“In my case, consulting was attractive because of the opportunity to learn and develop solutions to clients using emerging technology while tackling real-life industry issues. I think one of my favorite parts has to be the freedom to take your career in whatever direction you want. Being involved in different projects has given me a great idea of what I enjoy doing and how I can take initiative to establish myself in the future. Overall, I think my favorite part has to be the people aspect though. You can create the greatest, most complex solution, but its useless if no one can understand it.”
B.S. Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University (2019); Consulting Academy @ MSU Alumni
“I decided to pursue consulting for the opportunity to work in various industries and on diverse projects. It is a great career for those who desire a changing work environment that continuously challenges you. Since starting my career, I have been impressed by the amount consulting firms invest in their employees and I appreciate the emphasis that is placed on building your network.”
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University (2007)
“While studying Mechanical Engineering, I realized my true passion was less the content and more the analytical problem solving so when looking to business and career opportunities, consulting seemed a perfect fit. After 10+ years, I am still energized daily by the clients I partner with, challenges faced, and unique solutions developed.”
B.A. History and International Relations, Michigan State University (2006); MBA, University of Michigan Ross School of Business (2012)
“There is a bit of a ‘generalist myth’ in the consulting world. The business model doesn’t really tolerate someone who is a jack-of-all-trades/interests after a certain point. Ultimately, the more you specialize, the more you are able to bring value and the more your consulting career will develop.”
B.A. Finance/Accounting/Economics, Albion College (2000); MBA, Change Management and Human Resources, Michigan State University (2006)
“Determine which industry and areas of consulting truly excite you. Doing so will keep your interest high and your career moving in the right direction, no matter the engagement or client.”
B.S. Marketing, University of Colorado–Boulder (2000); MBA, Michigan State University (2006)
“I joined Accenture out of undergrad (it was Andersen Consulting at the time) mainly because I was not interested in doing one specific job. I wanted a breadth of experience, and consulting provides the opportunity to work with different clients on various issues. I joined Deloitte out of business school because of the people at the firm and the ability to own my career.”
B.A. Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University (1986); MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business (2002)
“Relationships are critical with colleagues and clients alike. It sets the foundation for the context of how work gets done and business problems get solved.”
B.S. Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University (2011); MBA-Marketing, Northwestern – Kellogg School of Management (2018)
B.A. Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University (2019); Consulting Academy @ MSU Alumni
Congratulations to the current Consulting Academy @ MSU students listed below! Feel free to reach out to any for information on their experience or with any questions.