Consulting 101: What is that about?
By Shirley Hu
When I arrived at Georgetown as a freshman, I had no idea what kind of clubs I wanted to join. I went to the CAB fair knowing nothing and just made it a goal to visit every single club’s table to get a sense of what is out there (needless to say, this was pretty overwhelming and not a very good strategy). As a MSB student, I had spent some time walking around the pre-professional clubs and kept hearing about these ~student-run consulting firms~ and I had absolutely no idea what that meant. However, the people running those tables were so friendly and seemed so enthusiastic about the club that I decided I would give it a shot!
I had heard that these consulting groups were really competitive to get into and was honestly really discouraged upon hearing that you had to apply to get into clubs. However, I stuck it out and went to some of the information sessions and I’m so glad I did. The application process was not as daunting as everyone made it out to be and all the members of the consulting clubs were so willing to help and answer your questions. I still remember when I finally got the call where the board told me that I had gotten in! Since then, I’ve learned so much about consulting, worked on really cool projects and for really meaningful clients, met so many cool people, gained such valuable experiences and above all, a fantastic community on the hilltop.
Now you might be asking yourself, what the heck is consulting?
The answer is not as complex as you might expect; at its core, consulting is helping a business solve a problem they have. When these businesses don’t have the resources or the information necessary to fix the issue internally, they might outsource this problem-solving to a consulting group. As a consultant, you are working on a team and together the team tries to understand what the business is asking of you, figure out what steps to take in order to break down their problem, and then assemble all the information you gathered in the form of a deliverable(final product). This deliverable could provide either a general suggestion or recommendation or more conceptual conclusions. Generally, college consulting clubs will tackle these projects over the course of one semester; however, projects could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months or years.
One of the reasons that these student-run consulting groups are so popular is because consulting is a common career choice for undergraduate students right out of college. Especially for those who don’t have a really clear-cut career path in mind even after four years of college, going into consulting allows you to gain new skill sets and insight into a variety of industries while you figure out what you want to do in the future.
Even if you don’t want to go into consulting full-time (which is not uncommon at all even within consulting clubs), being part of a consulting club or working on a consulting project is still incredibly valuable. For one, you get to work alongside really cool people for important and impactful organizations! You will also build confidence in your public speaking abilities and find yourself more articulate in other areas of your life whether that’s group work for school or when you’re talking to professors and more. On the more technical side, you really hone in on your presentation-making abilities as well as learn how to think about problem-solving, researching and analyzing data.
Although being part of a consulting club has been the backbone of my application to several other clubs and jobs, the best part is the community I get to be a part of. From fun social outings with my project team, to club-wide events and retreats, I’ve made such good memories and lasting friendships. I am genuinely so glad that I decided to apply to Hilltop way back in freshman fall.
By the end of that day at the CAB fair, I went back to my dorm with a fat folder full of papers about all the clubs and their different application processes and information sessions and no idea what I wanted to do. I had learned in high school that it’s never a good idea to sign up for every single club you’re even a little interested in, especially at college where time is a very valuable commodity. If you’re only feeling the FOMO because a lot of people you know are applying to consulting clubs, please don’t waste your precious time and energy on yet another club application. That being said, If consulting and problem-solving sounds even remotely interesting or fulfilling, absolutely pursue it! Being part of a consulting club has truly been a really awesome part of my Georgetown experience so far.
Shirley Hu is a sophomore in the MSB majoring in Business and Global Affairs. She is involved in Hilltop Consultants, GPS and is an intern for Georgetown’s endowment. She loves reading, painting, and looking at cute dogs in her free time.