The Consulting Academy @ MSU prepares students, admitted via a competitive application 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 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.
Students in the Full-Time MBA program or its joint degree programs who have a highly competitive GMAT score and robust, progressive work experience are eligible to complete a paper application.
Students in other graduate degree programs may be considered after the 2018-19 academic year.
Applications from undergraduates are accepted once each semester. When determined, specific dates each semester will be posted on this page. The Consulting Academy will hold company information sessions, informal conversations with alumni in the industry, etc. for prospects prior to the application deadline. Students interested in attending pre-application events should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, major, number of completed credits and GPA. Students chosen from the written application pool will participate in interviews with the Consulting Academy’s directors. Candidates will prepare and deliver a brief presentation on an assigned topic as well.
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.”
B.A. Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University (2010); MBA, London Business School (2016)
“I believe the Spartan spirit of being a strong team member and a ‘Spartans Will’ attitude have enabled me to propel through my career. Keeping this positive, can-do mindset has given me the confidence to tackle projects and embrace life opportunities, such as moving across the world (twice!), that I never would have deemed possible before.”
B.A. Finance, Michigan State University (2008); MBA, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business (2016)
“I chose consulting as my post-MBA career because it offers the opportunity to gain exposure across a variety of industries and functions while advising leading businesses on some of their most pressing issues. This experience will provide unparalleled learning opportunities and help me build a solid foundation that I can leverage for the rest of my career.”
B.A. Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University (2013); MBA, Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management (exp. 2019)
“One of the things I most enjoy about consulting, which I did not consider when joining, is the caliber and diversity of your team members. I am always amazed by the way different backgrounds can work together to solve complex problems.”
B.A. Supply Chain Management and English Language and Literature, Michigan State University (2013)
“Focus on getting on projects with the right people. Consulting is very much an apprenticeship-based model. Learning from individuals invested in your growth is key to your success.”
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.A. Marketing and Spanish, Michigan State University (2008); MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business (2016)
“After speaking to classmates and alumni, I explored consulting when I started business school. I discovered I greatly enjoyed case interview practice. That was the first sign I might really like consulting. Ultimately, I was sold on the ability to learn how to tackle problems in a structured way, learn about different business industries and capabilities, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals.”
B.A. Finance and International Relations, Michigan State University (2008); MBA, Harvard Business School (2015)
“At MSU, I had my most memorable experiences when I acted upon opportunities when they presented themselves. For example, when one of my classmates and I got really excited about starting a business together, we decided to actually do it. We ended up losing money on the idea, but it is still one of the experiences I look back on most fondly. I have continued to practice this throughout my career.”
B.S. Retail Management, Michigan State University (2006); MBA, Duke University Fuqua School of Business (2015)
“I learned many things at MSU, but one thing that stands out is how to work well in a group setting. As a consultant, you are constantly working with others (e.g., your case team, your manager, your clients) and learning how to do this effectively, including how to frame questions in order to get the desired output (e.g., buy-in for an idea) is extremely important as a consultant.”
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.