Consultants are professionals who provide objective advice and expertise to a variety of clients, giving their clients access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house.
You might think you need tons of experience and specialized knowledge to become a consultant, but professional services firms such as PwC hire students and new grads from a broad range of academic backgrounds and then develop their skills and expertise as consulting associates.
“We’re not just looking for business or commerce students, we’re looking for economists, engineers, IT students, human resources and humanities as well. What’s important to us is that they’ve got the potential to grow and develop.”
—James Davidson, Senior Manager – Campus Talent Acquisition, PwC
For example, PwC considers applicants from a variety of programs, including business, engineering, computer science, liberal arts programs and more for its co-ops, summer internships and entry level jobs.
To find out what it’s like to start a career in consulting at PwC, we spoke with James Davidson, the Senior Manager – Campus Talent Acquisition for PwC.
“One of the great things about PwC is that it provides limitless opportunities and fantastic global opportunities as well,” James says.
Keep reading for more insider tips about consulting careers at PwC!
Perks at PwC: Training, mentorship, travel
PwC consulting associates are given the tools they need to become trusted consultants, such as classroom training and on-the-job mentorship. From the very start, they work with high-profile clients ranging from small, privately owned businesses to multinational corporations.
Get your bags packed and ready to go! A consulting career at PwC also means exciting travel opportunities. Consulting associates typically split their time between the office, working at local client sites, and jet-setting out of town to work with clients at their other locations.
Consulting career trajectory
James says consultants have a lot of options with PwC. “As they gain knowledge and experience, and as they move more into a senior associate level with us, they’ll then be able to select the area of expertise they would like to focus on.”
Consultants are given the opportunity to work in different “competencies”—what PwC calls different aspects of the business. This allows consulting associates to become familiar with all aspects of the business while determining which area they might want to specialize in later on.
PwC recruits from all academic backgrounds
Consultants don’t always have business degrees—PwC hires from all different backgrounds.
“We’re not just looking for business or commerce students,” James says. “We’re looking for students and new grads from a broad range of degrees and disciplines, including economics, engineering, IT, human resources and the humanities, just to name a few. What’s important to us is that they’ve got the potential to grow and develop.”
Ultimately, PwC is looking to develop well-rounded consultants with different areas of expertise. “It could be a history or a music degree—as long as they’ve got business awareness and an interest in business, that’s what we’re looking for.”
How to demonstrate your business savvy
If you don’t have a commerce background, you might think it’s tough to show a company like PwC that you’re passionate about business and have what it takes to succeed in consulting.
But James recommends students clearly demonstrate on their resumés the extra-curricular experiences they have gained in university. He wants to know his future employees are succeeding—at school and in the clubs they participate in. “We really start picking apart their business knowledge and business understanding in the interview. They need that robust resumé where they’ve gone out and achieved whilst at university.”
What’s important in the recruitment process?
Applying for a consulting or accounting job with PwC is a tough process. Here’s a list of what they’re looking for in potential candidates, in order of importance:
- Grades: A high overall GPA and excellent grades in relevant courses.
- Work experience: Working a part-time job while studying is impressive and demonstrates good project-management skills. “We want to know what kind of job they managed to get. Customer service roles are great because we’re in a client service industry. But if they’ve managed to get a co-op in a related field, that’s even better,” says James.
- Extra-curricular involvement: They want to see what you’ve been involved with and it’s especially impressive if it demonstrates a business interest.
- Outside of school involvement: This could be things like volunteer experience or playing on a sports team.
James’ top tips when applying to PwC
When PwC is considering applicants, they’re looking to see their potential to help them build relationships and create value. It’s a good idea to check out PwC’s on-campus visits at your school throughout the year and visit PwC’s website to learn more about the firm before you apply, to ensure you’re showing them your full potential.
When you’re ready, visit PwC’s website to apply and make sure you follow James’ Top 3 application tips:
- Attention to detail: No sloppy resumés. Absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes. PwC expects your resumé and cover letter to be your best work yet!
- Easy to read and clear resumé: “We’re receiving thousands of resumés as an organization during this period. It’s to the students’ benefit that the resumé is clearly laid out and easy for us to identify some of those key criteria: academics, work history, on-campus experiences, out of school experiences,” says James.
- Develop a relationship with your local PwC campus recruiter. Track them down at events on your campus throughout the year and do that “networking” thing everyone is always talking about. You can also find their email address on PwC’s website.
At PwC, you’ll find exciting careers that offer limitless opportunities for growth. Join PwC for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Visit the Consulting Career Guide to learn more about careers in consulting, and find student and entry level consulting jobs from top employers.