CAPS Snapshot: Consulting 1
Company Description: Small Consulting Boutique Firm – Pharmaceutical
Years in industry: 4 years in life sciences consulting; 6 years in health care
Education: BA, Psychology/Pre-Med; MA in Epidemiology/Health Studies
Hours per week: 50-70
Entry level salary: Approximately $45-$48K:
1. How did you get your first job in this field?
Recruiters from NAME came to UofC’s campus during the year I graduated
from MAPSS and I submitted my resume directly to that recruiter who invited
me to interview in their Chicago office. After undergoing a series of case study
interviews (unrelated and related to health care) with 4 senior management team
members, I received an offer through the Chicago office. I requested a transfer
to the New York office, and after interviewing in NY (no case studies, just
meeting people to ascertain “fit”), I was granted the transfer and an offer in
2. How do most people break into this field nowadays?
Networking and college campus recruiting is still the best way to get in. HR
departments at large consulting firms are swamped and without context or a
name behind you, your ability to stand out or be noticed is a lot harder.
3. What is a typical career path in this field? How often are there
advancement opportunities? Is most advancement within or across
The typical career path for an undergraduate entering the job market is Research
Analyst—Senior Analyst—Associate Consultant—Consultant—Sr.
Consultant—Engagement Manager—VP, Principal—Managing Director.
For an MA graduate (Non-MBA), the path starts at Senior Analyst typically.
For an MBA graduate, the path starts at Associate Consultant. Sometimes a
PhD will also enter at the Associate Consultant level as well.
There is great opportunity for quick career advancement within consulting. A
typical timeline is for one person to spend 1-3 years in each role before
advancing to the next level. As an Analyst you develop analytical, critical
thinking and problem-solving skills through data analysis in Excel and Access,
and create most, if not all of your work/client deliverables, in Power Point
format. As an Associate Consultant all the way to Sr. Consultant, managerial
skills become front and center. In particular, communication skills (with clients
and with the team), and the ability to manage upward as well as downward
within the firm, becomes more critical (in addition to the critical thinking and
the ability to develop stories that answer the Burning Platform questions/issues for clients).
4. What do people in your field look for in a candidate? (Skills, personal qualities, etc.)
Bright, problem-solver, critical thinker, team player, ability to remain calm in stressful situations, solid
work ethic, person ability, professionalism.
Case studies are generally given during an interview to gauge most of the qualities mentioned above. Case
studies are business questions that are posed to a candidate during an interview. The candidate is asked to
devise a plan to answer that business question and walk the interviewer through their logic and thinking to
get to that business resolution. Most large consulting firms have examples of case studies on their career
All degrees are welcome, but in particular, I’ve found degrees in Math or Science are preferred because
they tend to reflect analytic skills. An MBA is preferred, but that’s not to say one cannot start after
Undergraduate training and work their way up the ranks. (It just might take a little more time!)
5. What personal qualities are necessary for someone in your job to
See Answer to #4.
6. What advice do you have for someone with a bachelor's degree looking to
enter this field? What about someone with a master's or doctoral degree?
Depending on what you like, there are consulting firms that specialize in certain areas. However, the norm
is that a consulting firm (e.g., BCG, McKinsey, Accenture, etc.) hires people to be generalists, with
exposure to consulting in multiple industries. As an undergraduate, bigger consulting firms that offer a
gamut of consulting offerings to multiple industries is your best bet. (Smaller, more specialized firms don’t
typically hire undergraduates AND it gives a person entering the work force a low-risk opportunity to
For those with Masters degrees or doctoral degrees, you may want to consider specializing (e.g., health
care, IT, international tax, retail, process, strategy, etc.).
7. Are there any books, journals, web sites, resources, associations, etc. that someone
looking to break into your field should be aware of?
The web sites for Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, Deloitte Consulting, Cap Gemini E&Y,
etc. are good places to start.
8. What do you like best about your job?
The fact that my value is in my ability to think. Each project is unique and different so I am constantly
being challenged. There is great satisfaction in providing a client with information he/she did not have and
seeing the value of our work. (Even better when things get implemented down the line!)
9. What do you like least about your job?
Sometimes the hours get long and it can be very frustrating/stressful when you don’t come up with answers
so easily. Maintaining positive team dynamics can be challenging when working with different
personalities and work styles.
10. What is your typical day like?
8:30-9:00 am Arrive at the office
9:00-9:30 - Catch up on emails and phone calls., read news
9:30-7pm (or later) – Multitude of activities including, work on deliverables/decks, conduct team working
sessions, create graphs/slides, have a discussion with a client, read a research article or therapeutic area
report for background on a new project, present final deliverables to a client, etc.
Typically, “crunch time” occurs right before a project is due, with 5-7 work days before the project
completion ending after 9pm and the rare all-nighter! But for the most part, hours are typically 50-60
Putting hours on the weekend becomes greater as you become more senior in the firm. But, generally,
weekend time is really only typically put in the weekend before a deliverable is due.
Note: This is only ONE person’s experience- find out more information about this career before
you make a decision!
Next Steps for More Information:
• Conduct informational interviews with alumni and others in fields you are interested in.
o For information on how to conduct an informational interview, see:
o For alumni contacts, see:
o For more networking ideas and sources, see:
• Research the industry and the job positions. For research tools and resources, see:
• Meet with a CAPS career counselor- call 702-7040 for more information.
• Attend a CAPS program or event- meet with other people already in this industry, or other students with
similar interests. Check the CAPS calendar for upcoming events: http://caps.uchicago.edu/