Why Consulting Firms Hire Undergrads

Question:

I would like to start by saying thank you for the resources you provide. They are very helpful and have made me much more effective at cases as well as other tasks that require similar skills. However as an undergraduate student working towards a B.COMM in a school that is considered a target school in my country, I have been wondering about why consulting firms hire students out of undergrad. I want to become a consultant, and I am thrilled about the idea that this could become a reality very soon, however I cant seem understand why they would take undergraduate students.

We have limited real world business knowledge as we have not worked in industry so how are we supposed to go up to a 60-year-old CEO and tell them what's best for their billion dollar company and expect them to take this 20-something university graduate seriously? I understand that we have an experienced team behind us so does that really mean that undergraduate students are a cost-saving mechanism?

On a similar note, an undergrad student would also lack a core competency, we really can't be considered experts of any field. I was wondering what you had to say about becoming more knowledgeable and getting experience before going into consulting. I have contemplated getting a CA and working for a firm for a few years before going into consulting. Do you feel that this would be preferable or does the training and experience you get at a MBB consulting firm help you become a master consultant? I guess in short, is it better to join consulting after a few years of experience or can joining consulting from the get-go prove to be equally efficient?

Look forward to hearing form you and once again thank you for your resources.

 

My Reply:

Consulting firms hire undegrads who are extremely smart.

A smart person can 1) get data, and 2) determine factually correct answers.

Both of these skills are not correlated with years of experience in an industry. In fact, many clients with decades of industry experience often have opinions that are not factually correct.

So you add value to a senior client by proving their opinions to be factually wrong or factually correct.  That is the value add.

A smart person who works cheap (in comparison to say someone with a MBA, 10 years work experience) is extremely profitable.

In terms of when to apply, you should apply when it seems to fit your personal life and career plan. The other factors you cited are not really a major factor (from the consulting firm's point of view). So it's more of a personal decision than anything else.

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