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10 awesome things you can do as a graduate in consulting

Jaymes Carr

From travel to social impact – consulting offers compelling experiences, giving you the opportunity to create change in organisations of all sizes.

Consultants are professional problem solvers: whether working for small outfits, or for global giants like Mckinsey & Company or Boston Consulting Group, consultants act as on-demand experts, called in to help organisations overcome business challenges, achieve social outreach goals, or address concerns related to specific areas, such as the environment, recruitment, or the law.

Why should you be interested? For one, a career in consultancy is uniquely degree agnostic. It needn’t matter whether you’re studying maths, engineering, anthropology, history, chemistry, law, business, or something else entirely. If you can demonstrate ambition, intelligence, high-achievement, and standout problem-solving skills, consultancy offers you an alternative path to professional success and personal satisfaction. So—with that in mind, here are ten awesome things you can do as a graduate consultant.

1. You’ll get to travel extensively

Christine Wong, a graduate of the University of Sydney, now works for Boston Consulting Group (BCG) one of the ‘Big Three’ strategy firms (the others are Bain & Co. and McKinsey & Company). BCG has 90 offices in 50 countries, so, given its international reach and diverse client portfolio, it’s no surprise that travel is a regular aspect of Christine’s job: ‘There’s not a monotonous day in this job,’ she told GradAustralia. ‘We travel to our clients for most of the work week, wherever they’re located. This provides a great opportunity to explore different parts of Australia and the world.’

In truth, the travel isn’t always exciting: Christine adds that ‘it can be difficult when you’re away from home for long periods of time.’ Nevertheless, consulting still offers an unparalleled opportunity for you to use your career to see different parts of the globe, from rural Australia to the Amazon.

2. Connect with a variety of organisations in different industries

As a consultant, you’re most likely to work for a professional services firm, like Bain, Deloitte, KPMG, or Port Jackson Partners. Generally, such firms assemble teams of consultants with complementary specialisations, with all members working under the supervision of a senior partner. These teams then take responsibility for a range of clients whose needs correspond to the team’s area of expertise.

As a graduate, there is a distinct advantage to this model: though employed by a single firm, you still get to build up a diverse portfolio of career experience while working with various client organisations. So says Nina Hauser, a management consultant at KPMG. ‘The greatest thing about my job is the fact that I’m constantly working on new projects and meeting new people,’ she told GradAustralia. ‘This really helps me grow at both a professional and personal level.’

3. Work alongside people with a range of academic, professional, and personal backgrounds

Most careers presuppose specific tertiary education: a law firm, for instance, is going to shred applications from candidates without law backgrounds. What, then, do the world’s top consultancy firms look for in a graduate recruit? Well, as an example, this is how McKinsey describes their ideal hire:

‘We look for people who can develop and implement creative solutions to challenging problems and work well with teams to do it. We look for people with an entrepreneurial spirit: innovative by nature, always creating new approaches, products, services, and technologies.’

In other words, top firms look for smart and creative team players, without too much concern for whether they studied commerce or creative writing.

Nor is this mere rhetoric: one of the most awesome things you can do as a graduate consultant is brainstorm solutions to complex problems in the company of people from various professional and personal walks of life. As Nina Hauser told GradAustralia, ‘Our team consists of people from diverse backgrounds, such as commerce, IT, business, engineering, and other degrees.’

4. You can address the issues that you care about

If you want your career to have a social impact, then consulting could be a great fit. It offers two main ways in which you can use your skills to benefit the wider community.

First, there are firms such as 180 Degrees Consulting and Squared Impact that focus on support organisations (such as non-profits) that aim to achieve positive social change. For example, Squared Impact partners with clients such as Aboriginal Affairs NSW and various women’s community shelters to help them identify target social outcomes and then measure their progress towards them.

Second, you will find that many full-service firms encourage employees to participate in pro bono initiatives and other social outreach programs. For example, BCG has an entire branch dedicated to ‘social impact consulting’, through which it has worked on initiatives such as helping the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fight malaria and partnering with government agencies to improve access to education in the Indian state of Haryana.  

5. Earn a competitive salary

Money isn’t everything, it’s true, but one of the awesome things you can do as a consulting graduate is bring home an enviable salary anyway. According to Payscale, the real-time salary aggregator website, an Australian management consult