By Christina Siders, NCA senior assistant director, providing career counseling to students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School.
If you happen to be on campus at Northwestern in the late summer and early fall, chances are you’ll hear the word ‘consulting’ more than a few times. Rest assured, though this might be one of the most ‘visible’ professions on campus right now, it is one of MANY career options our students pursue. In fact, only about 14% of the class of 2016 reported being employed in the consulting industry upon graduation. So, what careers exist that might be like consulting without the 80 hour workweeks, constant travel, and anxiety provoking case interviews?
To answer that question, first think about the essential tasks of a consultant:
- Pitching and reporting involves helping to prepare and deliver compelling project proposals to a client, a task that is also important in sales, marketing, advertising, or public relations. To learn more, identify these industries as your ‘interests’ in CareerCat to receive tailored messages regarding job postings, recruiting timelines, and employer activity on campus.
- Research is central to the life of a consultant, whether it involves reviewing financial data, interviewing past employees, or surveying customers. If research is something that excites you, consider a career in, well, research. Look for positions like ‘Research Analyst,’ ‘Data Scientist’ or roles within governmental agencies who use research to inform legislation and policy reform.
- Analysis involves using quantitative modeling and/or statistics to organize, make sense of, and summarize large datasets for a client. Analysis is becoming vital in all fields, but especially in market research, engineering, data science, or financial services. When searching, use keywords like ‘analyst,’ ‘research,’ or ‘data.’
Also, think about what appeals to you about consulting. Is it because you gain exposure to a range of business areas within a company or industry? Many students are attracted to leadership/rotational programs for this reason. These programs rotate associates through various business functions to encourage ongoing mentorship, in-depth training, and loyalty to their organization. There are a myriad of companies offering rotational programs, some of which include Visa, Kraft, L’Oreal, Google, Morningstar, and LinkedIn. When looking for these opportunities, try searching ‘program,’ or exploring the company’s diversity initiatives. Keep in mind that because the company’s motive is to retain great talent, you should have a strong interest in the organization itself, beyond just the rotational structure.
The bottom line: there are numerous careers and occupations out there to pursue. If you’re uncertain as to what might fit you, consider making an appointment with a career counselor at NCA, or browsing our industry pages on our website. Most importantly, have fun exploring – the opportunities are infinite!