The Consulting Series: First Year Exploration Phase

UVA Career Center – April 5th, 2017

So, you’ve heard about consulting from a friend, family member, or through social media. Based on what you’ve been told, it sounds like consulting is a good fit for someone with your interests and talents. There is no need to dedicate the rest of your life to one career path at this point in your professional career, but now IS the time to explore your options and expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible. At this stage in your first year of college, take the time to ask yourself some key questions:

  1. What is consulting?

According to FlexJobs.com , consulting comes “in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Duties vary based on industry. In general, consultants provide an outside, objective point of view to help organizations spot problems or better their performance in ways that the organization might not be able to see themselves”. The consulting industry is very broad and there are several “types” of consulting one can do. Moreover, when it comes to discussing consulting, it can be explained in one of two ways; strategy and implementation. If the “type” of consulting falls under strategy, your job would be to develop strategies to enhance overall performance. If the “type” of consulting falls within the realm of implementation, your job will consist of implementing the strategies that will enhance overall performance.

Visit the links below to find more information on some of the areas of consulting:

Additionally, the Career Center hosts a series of workshops, information sessions, symposiums, etc. all meant to introduce you to and inform you about the field of consulting. Below is a list of some of our yearly events. To ensure that you are connected and receiving updates about events and opportunities, sign-up for our listserv through Handshake. To do so, login into your Handshake account click the “Career Interests” tab to the left of the screen. Then scroll down until you see the headline “Which of the following best match your career interests? (Select all that apply)” and select “Business”.

Below are some of the events we host on a yearly basis.

  • Consulting Treks to Washington DC
  • Business for all Majors
  • Introduction to Consulting
  • Consulting Webinars
  1. What skills and/or background knowledge do I need to succeed in the field?

Employers seek out specific qualities and skillsets in their candidates.Therefore, it is essential that you invest in your professional skill development. As a college student, you will develop skills through your extra-curricular involvements, volunteer experiences, summer experiences, and of course, through your major or academic program of study.

Here at the Career Center, our central motto is “major does not equal career”. Meaning, you can declare any major of your choosing and still become a phenomenal consultant. Your focus should be on the development of both soft and technical skills. Additionally, feel free to speak with a Career Counselor on how you can best relate your coursework to the consulting industry. Business Community Office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10am to 12pm.

According to Experience.com, these are some of the skills necessary to succeed as a Consultant:

  • Effective Teamwork
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Strong Communication skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Creativity/ Innovation
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Presentation Skills
  • Writing Skills

And get this, your job will train you in any additional skills necessary to do your work effectively. You just need to accumulate enough transferrable skills to “get your foot in the door”! Focus on taking courses that train you in thinking like a consultant, as well as enable you to develop the skills necessary to be an effective consultant.

Below is a list of some departments that provide courses that will enable you to develop essential skills related to consulting:

  • Mathematics (e.g. statistics, economics, calculus) - quantitative skills
  • Psychology- client engagement, sales, marketing
  • Media Studies- communications, marketing, advertising
  • Foreign Affairs- research, summation, presentation
  • History- critical analysis

Word from the wise, whatever you decide to study, be sure to hit the books and maintain a competitive GPA!

3. Additional Resources to learn more about Consulting

All of these resources and more, can be found on Handshake. Set up your account today!  

Check out what to do your second, third, and fourth year!