Every Fall, the SAIS Consulting Club invites a select group of students to visit three consulting firms throughout the DC area. Each visit, which lasts about two hours, offers students the opportunity to meet with several industry professionals, gain a first-hand understanding of a career with that firm, and ask off-the-record questions specific to the student’s interest. By visiting firms of different sizes and different industries, students are introduced to a wide range of networks and professional paths.
Before the day-long trek, students are required to participate in a pre-trek meeting, where Consulting Club Board Members cover day-of logistics, proper attire, and other pertinent information. Students are also required to complete additional reporting on a select firm.
For the first time, Control Risks and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Advisory practice, hosted the Consulting Club.
At our first visit, Control Risks, a global risk consultancy located near the White House, gave a wonderful introduction students to the firm’s dynamic, collaborative culture. A diverse group of six team members – from marketing to crisis management – met with us to speak about their projects and professional path to Control Risks. They emphasized that SAIS students are great because of their diverse backgrounds, research skills, and experience working overseas. Skills required to do well in this job include the ability to write a properly targeting piece clearly and concisely.
After lunch, students visited PwC to meet with their rapidly expanding Advisory Practice. Following a fantastic introduction to consulting at PwC, three consultants from different areas of expertise (public sector, global public health, and forensics) gave an in-depth review of their projects and clients. Students were surprised by the work performed across their competencies (from the UN HeforShe, to the Lean In Movement, to private equity and global growth markets). The visit highlighted PwC’s friendly, learning-oriented culture, including its “five dimensions” of professional development.
For the third and final visit of the day, 10 additional students joined the group for a visit to the Dalberg Group. Always a student favorite, we met with members from two of the Group’s arms: Dalberg Global Development Advisors (the consulting arm) and D. Capital Partners (the investing arm). Two consultants gave examples of projects under Dalberg’s practice area and their methodology for addressing a client’s needs. A member from D. Capital discussed their investment advisory services and innovating financing mechanisms. Consultants are usually hired from their interns.
It goes without saying that these visits are made possible because of a close network of fantastic SAIS alums. The Consulting Club is incredibly grateful to those that have offered their time to coordinate, schedule and host current SAISers.
Advice from the Firms themselves:
To get hired at PwC they look for individuals to fit specific skills on a team – having certifications specific to the desired job and knowing that specific line of service well (in the context of the firm) is highly regarded.
Dalberg underscored that as a consultant, your job is not be an expert necessarily, but rather to be analytical: be smart and adaptable; present ideas in a clear, concise manner; and bring fresh insight. To be successful – regardless of the arm or position – one must have an entrepreneurial spirit. Dalberg, in particular, looks for individuals that want to contribute to and learn from others.
Quotes from Participants:
“Overall I was very pleased with my decision to attend the career trek and it exceeded my expectations. I was especially surprised, and pleased, with the breadth of consulting firms represented and I learned a lot about each during each meeting. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.”
“The SAIS Consulting Club trek organizers went through great effort to let the firm’s presenters know the important information that we wanted to hear – what they look for in applicants, how they reached their current role, what courses at SAIS they found beneficial, and how to leverage your skills.”