Landing a summer internship in a management consulting firm may be quite a challenge. While some known firms have expanded their internship programs, other firms still don’t accept summer undergraduate interns. Although it may be hard to find one, getting an internship with a consulting firm is extremely valuable. Why?
Well, for one you can get a trial period to determine whether or not consulting is the suitable career path for you. Also, you will know more about the job, particularly the skills needed to succeed in this industry. And more importantly, it can give you a huge advantage when it’s time for the full-time recruiting. Of course, this is if you didn’t receive an offer after the internship. But remember that your ultimate goal should be to secure a full-time offer.
With that, here are some tips to help you prepare to have a consulting summer internship.
Follow the industry news. Read consulting books and periodicals such as the Economist and WSJ on a regular basis. Since you have yet to have a real world experience, reading such materials can help you have a better feel for current business problems and solutions. You may also keep yourself up-to-date by reading posts on reputable consulting blogs and websites.
Prepare Your Business Attire
You should know the consulting dress code. In general, this means you should look professional and neat. Dress properly for your clients and colleagues. However, be careful not to dress fancy. Don’t stray too far from the usual business attire. It is better to have neutral colors. You don’t want to be remembered as the fashion consultant rather than a management consultant trainee, right? Also make sure you have sufficient business clothes for an entire week.
Hone Your Communication Skills
One of the most important skill sets to have prior to your internship is communication skills. Well, you don’t need to be the most eloquent person in the firm, but you should be able to speak clearly and with enthusiasm. This is very much important if you really want a career in consulting. Consultants need to deliver a clear message to their clients in a confident manner.
Know the Language and Start Using It
Every industry has their own set of lingo. Be sure that before your summer consulting internship you are already familiar with the different consulting lingo and terms. Although you are a neophyte, you don’t want to be seen as a neophyte without initiative. Prove that you have what it takes to fit in this industry.
Be Ready to Showcase Your Intellectual Horsepower
Let’s just say that consulting is not a world for everyone. The competition in this industry is relatively high, so you need to be able to showcase your worth. This means that your application documents should be polished and written in a way that they highlight your skills and achievements. Be ready to provide solid proof of your skills and other accomplishments that can demonstrate your intellectual capacity.
Craft Impeccable Resumes and Cover Letters
Summer internship roles at consulting firms are quite limited. Therefore you need to have an impressive application to rise above the rest. Write a concise, targeted and professional resume and cover letter. Make sure to highlight your key skills and achievements.
Be Pretty Good with PowerPoint and Excel
Of course, you are very much familiar with PowerPoint and Excel programs because you are using them at times in school. But be sure that you are not just familiar with it – be proficient. Ensure that you know how to make good presentations using PowerPoint, and how to format cells in Excel.
The point is once your internship starts, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with a lot of materials to learn as well as meetings to attend and so forth. With that, you don’t want to be studying about how to do conditional formatting in Excel at the same time. Don’t worry if you are still not that good at these things. There are plenty of resources online that can help you.
Initiate Contact with Recruiters and Consultants
You may have met some recruiters or consultants during company presentations, interviews, meet-and-greets in the past. You can ask for their help to land a summer internship. You can ask for advice or if they know any internship opportunity available. Generally, consultants would be happy to give you some useful pointers. That’s why it is important to always keep in touch with recruiters and consultants. It will surely help you not just in your internship plans, but importantly will increase your chances for full-time recruiting.
Find Contacts through Your School’s Alumni Database
In order to further increase your chances of finding an internship opportunity, you should get in touch with as many people as possible. You may find your alumni database useful to find people who are currently working in the consulting field. Contact them and express your interest in working at their firm. You may also look for relevant contacts through your school’s career development center. Network and try to build connections to people who are associated with your target firms.
How to Get a Full-Time Job Offer
Now, once accepted make sure that everything you do during the consulting summer internship are geared towards securing a full-time offer. To help you do this, remember to:
Make a Strong First Impression
You don’t need to wow every person in the room. But be sure that you show them that you are pretty smart and can get things done.
Showcase Your Drive
A consultant needs to infuse enthusiasm to every project. Show that you are hungry for knowledge and have the drive to accomplish any given task. You can display your drive by the way you talk about your work or simply by having the initiative to do the job. Participate actively – whether it’s just a small piece of work, or in critical brainstorming and team sessions.
Show that You Are Well-Rounded
Recruiters are attracted to “all-around” people. Consultants are known to be well-rounded as they can crunch numbers and at the same time have excellent communication skills.
Display Your Leadership Skills
Consultants are impressed with people who are like them – have the ability to take responsibility, and can take risks and rise to a challenge. Remember that leadership is not just about managing people. So being able to display your leadership abilities is key to securing an offer.
Impress Them with Your Ability to Think and Present
They may ask for your own analysis of a case and then ask you to make a quick PowerPoint presentation. Use such opportunities to showcase your critical thinking and presentation skills.
Summer internship can be hard in terms of you might get distracted with parties and other summer activities outside the firm. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize.
Build a Strong Relationship with Your Team Leader and Other Workers
In general, just be bright, reliable and friendly in order to impress the people around you. Remember that the people you work with, particularly the team leaders, may have a big influence on your return offer prospects.
Ask for Feedback
Another way to build rapport with staff and managers is to ask for feedback. Also, asking for feedback will not only help you improve your skills, but will show your genuine passion for the job.
Impress the lead partners. There are usually several partners who are closely involved with your project and client.
Through the summer internship, you’ll have many opportunities to impress your target firm. Make your every effort count! Get in front of them.