The Management Consulting Academy @ MSU prepares students for careers in management consulting. Through a variety of academic and professional activities, the Management Consulting Academy @ MSU prepares interested 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 MCA Connect for more information on management consulting.
MCA is designed to serve students from across MSU and offers a graduated, immersive and comprehensive experience of curricular and extra-curricular programming including coursework in consulting methods and skills, case interview preparation, networking opportunities, and more.
Structured as an open pathway with intensifying levels of engagement, the overall experience is responsive to the individual’s interest and chosen level of engagement. Attend an MCA Session to learn more about the 3E Engagement Model and 3E Engagement Flow.
Students interested in accessing the resources and opportunities associated with the management consulting industry need to register themselves on MCA Connect. Students are also encouraged to reach out to MCA to schedule an appointment to review their options and a discussion on consulting careers.
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. Students are encouraged to access MCA Resources section on MCA Connect to access MCA Consulting Resources Repository, MCA Business Case Repository and more.
Another 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 MCA offers regular internal and external led 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 MCA will assist students in connecting with firms, primarily through these alumni.
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 Management 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.
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.A. Accounting, Michigan State University (2017); M.S. Accounting with concentration in taxation, Michigan State University (2018)
“The opportunity to solve complex problems and work alongside driven, inspirational people drew me to a career in consulting. Since starting my career, everyday has presented new challenges and allowed me to work collaboratively with my team members. My favorite part is having to think holistically about the various aspects of business that impact clients. No two days are the same and it allows me to be a lifelong learner.”
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. 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
“I chose to pursue a career in consulting for the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment that emphasizes diversity and continuous improvement. I am challenged by my work every day; it reminds me how much there is still to learn! Honestly, I feel there is almost no other industry that can provide me with both the breadth and depth of experience and knowledge I have access to in consulting. Ultimately though, the most fulfilling part is the people. I am fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest, most creative, and analytical minds.”