Consultants provide advice and recommendations to help organizations solve problems, grow and become more efficient.

Consulting organizations range from large firms to small boutiques and they cover many specialties. Large firms hire recent graduates for specific practice areas, such as healthcare or technology, or as generalists. Firms concentrating on single industries hire in areas like life sciences, nonprofit, economics, environmental, IT and social impact.

If you're interested in pursuing a role in a specialty firm, seek to gain academic and internship experience in the related specialty area. For example, life sciences and healthcare consulting firms are interested in applicants who have conducted research or gained hands-on experience in these areas.

You can learn more about this field in the Firsthand Career Guide to Consulting

Gaining experience

Consulting firms look for students from many different backgrounds. Prior consulting experience can be helpful but is not required to apply for internships in consulting, or even full-time roles.

Consulting requires critical thinking and data analysis; interpersonal relationship building skills; and the ability to learn information quickly to solve problems and produce results. Many of these skills can be developed at Princeton through internships and clubs that foster leadership roles and problem-solving skills.

Employers will look for evidence to demonstrate that you can reach measurable results and outcomes. You should be able to quantify results on your resume from any job or internship to show you can hit and exceed measurable goals.

Hiring process and timeline

Prepare to begin your search for internships and jobs early. For large firms, recruiting may begin more than a year in advance. Undergraduates may need to apply as early as the spring of sophomore year to receive an internship offer for the summer after junior year. For the smaller boutique firms, undergraduates should start applying in the fall of senior year for jobs that begin after graduation.

Recruiting timelines will vary if you are seeking work after graduate school, but be prepared to begin applying more than a year in advance of your desired start date.

Case interviews are an important part of the application process in this industry. Succeeding in this type of interview requires extensive practice, so allow plenty of time to prepare.

Top consulting firms typically consider GPA and a student’s academic record as a key portion of the selection process and an indicator of readiness to enter the field.

As with most fields, it is helpful to connect with alumni who work in consulting to learn about their experience and get tips for applying.

Professional organizations and associations

Professional organizations and associations are membership-based groups comprised of people working in a similar field. They can be helpful resources for students to learn more about a field, develop connections and discover related opportunities. You can search for related organizations and associations using a database provided by the Princeton University Library

Princeton Alumni