Seniors Seeking Consult Jobs

News Feature

When she signed up for a resume check with a counselor at the Office of Career Services (OCS), Yang-Sze Choo '95 wasn't quite sure what she wanted in a chosen profession.

But all the other students who signed up on the list had written the same things: investment banking and consulting. So consulting it was.

"I didn't know what it even was at the time," Choo says.

Today, along with some 500 other seniors, Choo will submit job applications through the Office of Career Services in the hopes of finding a consulting position. These applications will be pooled with 200 previously submitted applications for spring recruiting.

It seems as though the number of undergraduates entering the consulting recruitment process has been increasing over the last few years. Some 715 became involved in recruiting last year, says Marc P. Cosentino, assistant director of OCS.

"This has become by far the most popular industry on campus," Cosentino says. "It's been an explosion we've seen here."

It is difficult to say exactly how much interest in the field has grown. But these days, about three out of every four students who come into Cosentino's office indicate an interest in consulting.

The number of firms who come to OCS has also increased over the past few years, Cosentino says. A few years ago consulting and investment banking made up 50 percent of the jobs offered through OCS. This year, they compose 65 percent.

What's Consulting

If students such as Choo find consulting a mystcry, it is perhaps because even consultants themselves have a difficult time explaining the field.

"The short definition is that we help our clients make more money," says Arthur Wu '93 of the Boston based Corporate Decisions Inc. (CDI). "We help them improve their business processes, whether internal or external, or the processes in the market and help them play against other companies."

Firms hire consulting companies such as CDI to give objective and innovative advice. The consulting firms send out teams of professionals to access the issues, formulate recommendations and sometimes even help implement the plan.

For example, "a large company's profit trails off and wants to grow," says Brian J. Hirschfeld '93, also of CDI. "We have to understand the business, look at value migration, understand what the customer is demanding and which customers are most profitable."

Many college seniors join consulting firms right after graduation. About 75 percent of Oliver Wyman & Co.'s professionals have only undergraduate degrees.

First, recent graduates come cheap. Second, no technical trades or skills are needed for consulting. Consultants emphasize this breadth as one of the inherent aspects of the business.