Each year, management consulting firms recruit thousands of undergrad and grad students into their internship programs, aiming to provide students with meaningful experiences while striving to build their full-time recruiting pipelines—by converting interns into full-time consultants. Of course, not all interns will receive full-time offers after their programs. So, to improve your odds of receiving a return offer, here are three essential things you can do during your consulting internship.
On most consulting assignments, you’ll likely be working alongside three to five consultants (if you’re working on an implementation assignment, the number can be significantly higher). In other words, a management consultant is rarely an army of one. Therefore, you must demonstrate that you have strong communication and collaboration skills. Your team will judge your communication skills based on your ability to research pertinent data points for an assignment, and your ability to present ideas with utmost conviction and clarity. You’ll also be judged on how well you work with your team to get the assignment across the finish line, your ability to maintain a positive demeanor, and if you can remain accountable during the entire lifespan of the assignment.
Management consultants are hired to solve clients’ most challenging and pressing problems. These problems can be as diverse as developing a go-to-market strategy to M&A due diligence. Newly-minted interns get the opportunity to experience an exceptionally structured approach to problem-solving while working on client engagements. The good news is that you already developed these problem-solving skills in the pursuit of acing your management consulting case interviews. So, during your internship, you must continue to practice, hone, and demonstrate these skills and make sure that the outputs you produce (such as client memos and presentations) reflect this approach to structured thinking and analysis. Note that often, interns underestimate the importance of structured thinking in professional writing.
Remember all the professional networking you did before you got your management consulting internship—from reaching out to management consultants to sending them personalized emails and thank you notes? You must continue to develop your professional network as an intern. While your engagement team will have an opportunity to get to know you while working with you on client assignments, you must make sure that people outside of your engagement team are also aware of you and are familiar with your professional and personal background and career aspirations.
Management consulting firms tend to be deliberate about fostering a loose and flat organizational structure. They aspire to create ecosystems of “think tanks” where ideas flourish through osmosis. So, make sure to attend as many firm-sponsored networking events as you can and volunteer for development work. For example, if you have experience in ESG and you know the firm is developing thought leadership in ESG where you’d be able to add value, don’t be shy about volunteering. Participating in such activities will increase your workload but will also build your professional brand. Be careful, though. If you’re pressed for time and can’t manage multiple priorities, remember that your client engagement should be your highest priority.
Recipient of the Presidential Award from The White House, Vibhu Sinha is an intrapreneurial and bottom-line driven senior management professional with experience in leadership roles across banking and capital markets. He has advised institutional clients on corporate strategy, idea generation and pitching, financial planning and analysis, M&A, investor relations, and ESG. Vibhu developed his acumen in Behavioral Psychology at Harvard University as part of a master’s degree program. He also earned an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson.