Consulting is a very interesting career for Pomona Students. Consulting leverages a lot of skills that Pomona Students possess, including quantitative skills, ability to dig deep into a complex topic area, writing, communication, and multi-dimensional thinking.
There are a variety of areas of “Consulting” including Management Consulting, Strategy Consulting, Litigation/Economic Consulting, Operations Consulting, Financial Consulting, and Systems Consulting.
A good entry point into Consulting is by working at a Consulting Firm. Consulting firms hire undergraduate Analysts/Consultants. These programs are a great way to quickly learn a lot about business and finance. These 2-year programs can be quite intense, but this allows students to learn and experience a lot. They can work on major projects for Fortune-1000 companies and have the ability to meet and learn from entrepreneurs and CEOs and managers.
The day-to-day of Consulting involves a lot of time researching companies, conducting market surveys, building excel spreadsheet models, and preparing powerpoint presentations. There is also a lot of relatively mundane work of scheduling meetings and calls reviewing information. But this helps develop a toolkit that can be used in all companies. Consulting Firms offer great training programs, which expose consultants to analysis, presentation, strategy topics. Consulting can often have long hours and challenging work life balance. This can involve lots of travel to cool and some not-so-cool locations where the clients are based. But the benefit is the ability to have considerable impact very early on in one’s career.
Consulting at a top firm is great because it instills at a very early age the ability to systematically pick apart a business problem and develop a well thought through solution, which is presented in a coherent manner. This is an invaluable skill. Many people that do not go through these programs have a hard time delivering similar levels of work product. Because of this training “stamp”, there are many jobs where the job description essentially requires the applicant to have “Big 3” consulting experience from McKinsey, Bain & Co, or BCG. Deloitte, PwC, ZS Associates, KPMG, Accenture, E&Y also have great programs.
Some of the top Economic Consulting firms include FTI Consulting, Alix Partners, Alvarez & Marsal, Cornerstone Research, Analysis Group, Navigant, Cap Gemini, etc.
By working in a Consulting program, one can either rise through the ranks to Managing Director/Partner or migrate to another area of business or finance like Venture Capital, Hedge Funds, Private Equity, or internal corporate roles in strategy, marketing, etc.
Having a top Consulting Firm on a resume is very well regarded by other business professionals.
Consulting is also a great path to enter a top MBA program.
To enter this career while in school, I recommend trying to get internships as early as possible in business and finance. Most Consulting Firms have summer consultant programs, but they are very competitive. Try to network with alumni and classmates and the Career Development Office to learn of opportunities. It is also crucial to have a polished resume and to develop an interest and knowledge of Business. This can be obtained by reading books and/or taking classes in finance or accounting. Participating in Pomona Consulting Club or Pomona Ventures also provides great, relevant training to enter finance.
Once you receive an interview, you should practice case interviews. This relates to technical, quantitative questions. Some Consulting firms may not have as technical requirements for liberal arts majors, but it is best if you prepare as much as possible. There are technical questions posted at SagePost47 in the resources section. Developing abilities to discuss financial topics and corporate finance news and issues is crucial to getting past the interviews. You should also practice building spreadsheets, so that you can discuss your capabilities and interest here. If you get an interview, try to get as much information about the Consulting Firm as possible (how large are they, what is their market cap, is the bank publicly listed, who is the CEO, what industries do they focus on, what types of consulting projects do they focus on). There are a number of online resources to learn more about Consulting careers.
I encourage you to do research on Consulting online and with some of the resources at SagePost47 and the CDO, then perhaps reach out to SagePost47 alumni mentors and to older classmates who have gone through the application process. The more you speak with other people, the more you will learn of opportunities and understand the steps necessary to enter this field.