Competition for consultancy jobs is fierce so graduate schemes are a great way to get your foot in the door - expect high starting salaries and early responsibility. Learn more about how to apply and where schemes can lead

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

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

Why choose a career in consultancy?

'A consulting career is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to build enduring, trust-based relationships at the heart of a client’s organisation, helping them to address their most significant business issues,' says Olly Rawlinson, early careers sourcing and attraction lead at Accenture.

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

Furthermore, a career in consultancy lets you work with different clients across different industries. 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 type of career that you chose

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.

'If you are curious, adaptable and solution-driven, consulting is a platform to create tangible value and harness change in a way that can make a real difference to people, businesses and communities across the world,' adds Olly.

What consultancy graduate schemes are on offer?

Formal consultancy graduate schemes are provided by a number of large, well-known organisations such as Accenture, Deloitte, EY, Fujitsu, IBM, KPM and PwC.

On the 15-month consulting scheme at Accenture analysts will drive lasting and positive change as they help clients conceive, design and execute business solutions at speed and scale. 'There will be constant opportunities to collaborate with, and learn from, industry experts while you’ll have access to the training and learning tools you'll need to succeed,' explains Olly.

'It's about bringing your skills, your curiosity and your best true self to your work. In turn we’ll encourage you to explore your passions, both in and out of the workplace, and empower you with a world of opportunity to challenge, develop and inspire you.'

Other benefits of joining the programme include a starting salary of £33,500 (plus £10,000 bonus), generous holiday allowance, hotel and travel discounts, a personal laptop and private healthcare.

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 EY, you'll spend two years on the Business Consulting graduate scheme working across a range of industries, including banking and capital markets, media and technology and government and public services, depending on the team you join. You'll have the opportunity to study for a CIMA certificate in Business and Accounting in your first year, and will receive mentoring and training and development opportunities throughout the programme. Salaries start from £27,600 a year.

Search for graduate schemes in business, consulting and management.

How do I apply?

The majority of 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.

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.

A grounding in consultancy is useful for any type of career. Many people progress their careers into senior managing consultant roles, 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 career in a number of areas.

'By the end of the graduate programme at Accenture, each analyst will have aligned to one of our business services and started their journey to becoming a subject matter expert,' says Olly. 'As they move to consultant level and beyond, they will continue to deepen their breadth and depth of knowledge across the spectrum of technology, increasing their remit and responsibility as they collaborate with clients to ideate, innovate, and execute bold, transformative solutions. You'll learn, grow and advance in a diverse culture of shared success, because your career is about what you want to be and who you want to be.'

Find out more

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