Many LSE students are interested in consultancy as a career and indeed some do go on to work for consultancy firms. But when it comes to consultancy careers it’s not all about the big firms on campus. Of course there are the names every student knows like McKinsey, Bain and BCG but in reality these firms don’t have huge numbers of jobs. If we look at the statistics, these strategy consulting firms in particular hire very few graduates. When thinking about who to apply to it’s important to be realistic about your prospects at this stage in your career and to think carefully about where your skills and profile best fit. While many graduates go to the likes of Deloitte, Accenture and PwC, again all names you are likely to be familiar with, even more LSE graduates go on to work for smaller or less known consultancies like CHP, PA Consulting, Delta and Capco who you may not have even heard of. It’s important to look at different sizes and profile of firms and to familiarise yourself with their requirements, application methods and recruitment deadlines so you don’t miss out.
So why consultancy?
When we ask students what’s the appeal of consultancy some will highlight the diversity of clients, lifestyle and project variety as key attractions. Others focus on what the role involves on a day-to-day basis. The opportunity to use problem solving and analytical skills, to work in a commercial environment, to be based in a project team and to make a real difference to a business whether that be improving a system, increasing profitability, or enhancing the work environment. If these are the sort of skills and environment you are looking for then have you considered any alternatives?
What are the alternatives?
There are a great many companies outside the consultancy sector, whether in consumer products (known as FMCG), banking, oil and gas, retail, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and so on that offer roles requiring similar skillsets which are challenging, have career progression opportunities and the chance to gain a professional qualification. Sometimes referred to as ‘internal consultancy’ roles, almost every large business has them. Working as an internal consultant you might find yourself in a commercial, business IT, strategy, general management, procurement or other business team. Where the picture is less clear is what are these jobs actually called. Graduate training schemes with ‘blue chip’ companies often offer the opportunity to develop a range of commercial and business skills whether on a rotation scheme or in a specialist role. The Business and Management Careers Fair is a great place to find out more about this type of opportunity. If you look at job vacancies on LSE CareerHub, current jobs and titles include: Test Consultant, Graduate Analyst, Graduate Trainee, Planning Assistant, Quantitative Analyst.
What about my career path?
When you look at the career paths of those working in consultancy and in-house roles, what may surprise you is the level of flexibility and cross-over. Some consultants have started their careers in industry and developed a deep expertise in a particular sector like pharmaceuticals or practice area like IT, organisational change or strategic planning and will only then move into a specialist or niche consultancy or industry team in a generalist consultancy when they have first-hand experience of a commercial area. Strategy consultancies also take on ‘experienced hires’ with a few years industry or consultancy experience provided they demonstrate they are outstanding in their chosen field. Here are the consultancy career paths of a number of former LSE graduates: