Graduate schemes of this nature teach you a range of transferrable skills so whether you want to pursue a career in consultancy or move into other business functions a consulting graduate scheme is a good place to start

Early in their careers, graduates can get to grips with analysing an organisation, and planning and problem solving to improve business performance.

Consultants are needed in most sectors including management, education, IT and the environment.

Why choose a career in consultancy?

You'll get the unique opportunity to gain access-all-areas insight into how organisations operate on a day-to-day basis, providing a depth of knowledge of, and experience in, your chosen industry.

As a consultant, you'll learn how to quickly build relationships and develop your problem solving, stakeholder management and communication skills, which are all invaluable in any career that you choose.

'It's a varied and exciting career,' says Issy Homan, head of talent KPMG UK.

You won't need a business degree to start a career in consultancy - many consulting firms welcome graduates from a range of disciplines, to bring together different skill sets and approaches to problem solving.

However, according to Hannah Whelan, junior talent programme lead at Fujitsu 'a career in consulting is ideal for someone with great interpersonal and communication skills. Consultants require an inquisitive mind and are passionate about learning and growth. They have a flare for problem solving and an analytical mind.'

'A career in consulting would fit those who are keen to make a difference to businesses and communities, those who can collaborate well, and those who are curious to look at new, technical solutions to solve problems,' adds Issy.

What consultancy graduate schemes are on offer?

Formal consultancy graduate schemes are provided by a number of large, well-known organisations such as:

  • Accenture
  • Arcadis
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Fujitsu
  • IBM
  • KPMG
  • PwC.

As a graduate business consultant at Fujitsu, you'll help clients to use digital technology, develop client strategy, analyse data, drive effective change and optimise business processes.

'At Fujitsu we are flexible and agile in our consultancy approach to ensure that how we work with our clients best suit their needs - something that our graduates will experience first-hand,' says Hannah. 'For example, one week you may be advising a client on how wearable technology will enhance the productivity of their workforce, and the next you may be working on developing an automation solution package that will help to reduce a client’s cost base. On our graduate programme, you'll get exposure to many different projects during your two years with us.'

On the KPMG Operational Transformation (with management consulting) graduate programme you'll help to clients to enhance their performance by delivering sustainable improvements to their business.

'On the graduate programme we work to provide clients with fact-based insights, using leading technology solutions to enhance their supply chain and procurement functions. Typical client challenges include the need to invest in the latest technology, a desire to reduce the ethical impacts of their supply chain and wanting to realise greater value across their operations,' says Issy.

Search for graduate schemes in business, consulting and management.

What are the entry requirements?

Most consulting graduate schemes aim to attract high academic achievers. Typically, you'll need:

  • A 2:1 undergraduate qualification - Some organisations may ask for a related degree, but this is not always the case; Accenture, Fujitsu, IBM and PwC welcome applications from graduates of any degree discipline.
  • The right combination of soft skills - including excellent analytical and communication skills, an inquisitive mind, a passion for learning and growth, commercial awareness, and flexibility.
  • A strong and demonstrable interest in your chosen sector/organisation - Being passionate and knowledgeable about the area you're working in can improve the quality of your work and strengthen your problem-solving abilities.
  • Language skills - Due to the international nature of many large companies, knowledge of a second language can be an advantage but is by no means essential.
  • A willingness to travel - Consulting careers usually require a fair amount of travel and it's possible that you may need to relocate, nationally or internationally, and work from home for extended periods.

Whichever sector you work in, you'll need to be an excellent communicator, highly organised and able to manage your workload - find out more about the skills that employers want.

How do I apply?

Application processes can vary, but the majority of graduate scheme applications are made online.

The first step is to fill in an application form and attach your CV. Some companies may then automatically direct you to a situational judgement test, to be completed as part of your initial application. If successful, the next stage of the application process will likely include a telephone or video interview. If you pass the first interview you'll then attend an assessment centre, before moving on to the final interview. Depending on your preferred area of consulting and your employer you may also need to pass numerical or psychometric tests.

With the rising popularity of consulting as a graduate career, competition for places on graduate schemes is fierce - so to stand out to employers you'll need a high degree of commercial awareness and to have an understanding of the organisation you've applied to. Avoid sending generic applications; they're unlikely to prove successful. Instead, take the time to really demonstrate your suitability to the role by providing real-world examples of required competencies.

Remember to include any extra-curricular activities and relevant work experience in your application. Think about the transferable skills you possess, e.g. are you part of a sports team, showing long-term commitment and teamwork? Have you organised a charity event, showing creativity, leadership and responsibility? All of these skills are of interest to employers.

What consulting jobs can I go into?

Gaining a place on a graduate scheme usually opens the door to permanent employment. You could work in business, management, strategy, or technology consulting, depending on your training.

'The skills that you develop, along with the experiences, are an excellent foundation for pretty much any type of role,' says Hannah. 'Many people enjoy consulting and progress into senior managing consultants, but some branch off to do more delivery and strategy type roles. A good understanding of how you solve a problem and communicate well with stakeholders will set you up for a fantastic career in any area that you choose.'

Find out more

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