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Got a PhD or an Advanced Degree? Transition to Consulting

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October 26, 2021
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4 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Studying to get a PhD or an advanced degree is not a walk in the park. To be an outstanding PhD student, you will need analytical and problem solving skills, research skills, and communication skills—these are exactly the skills that you require to become a top-tier consultant, too.

You may be wondering what to do after your PhD or advanced degree is done. Well, usually, candidates consider joining academia as a faculty or working for the government. But a career in consulting could also be a very exciting and lucrative option if you play your cards right.

PhD to consulting is not a new phenomenon. In fact, big consulting firms like McKinsey & Company, BCG, Bain & Company, etc. hire candidates who have a PhD. This is simply because there are so many transferable skills that can be useful to their organization.

And the salary in big firms...well, it’s a lot! So not only will you get to solve big problems and create an impact on society, but you will also be able to make enough money to live a comfortable life.

Does this sound interesting to you?

If yes, then let’s discuss the steps for becoming a consultant and your transition from PhD to consulting.

Get Into Consulting for the Right Reasons

A few benefits of a career in consulting have already been mentioned in this article previously. But you need to dig deep and find your own reasons. And these better be strong reasons. Why? Because when a highly experienced and seasoned interviewer at a big consulting firm is interviewing you, they will surely ask you why you want to join the consulting industry. At that time, you will have to make strong points and convince them that you are actually serious about the role.

Having a PhD and transferable skills are not always enough. Consulting is a job of high responsibility and millions of dollars are at stake for most projects in big consulting firms. That is why a consulting firm will test you and ensure that you have motivation enough to stay the course when things are not going your way. And when things are not going your way, your “why” will inspire you to wake up every day and put in the work. So, find your “why”, find the right reasons to go from PhD to consulting.

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery.” – Robbie Shell

Understand How Companies Function

If you have a PhD or are expecting to earn one soon, chances are that you’re already in your mid or late 20s. Also, it’s likely that you have never owned your own business before and only have experience working as an employee in roles that are not necessarily business-related. Now, that could be an issue if you want to transition from PhD to consulting. The fact is, a career in consulting requires one to understand the ins and outs of the business world thoroughly. Usually, candidates with an MBA from a top school have a very good chance of becoming a well-paid consultant because they develop a strong business acumen throughout their course.

But don’t worry, it certainly isn't rocket science. And if you’re intelligent enough to earn a PhD, you can most certainly understand the consulting business lingo and frameworks.

Now, after studying for years to gain a PhD, it doesn’t make sense to go back to university to learn business. As mentioned earlier, you need to be aware of the age factor. So, how to build a strong foundation to start a career in consulting early on in life after PhD. Well, the best way to do it is to take short online course that can help you learn essential consulting skills to achieve your full potential. In fact, Consultport Academy has almost everything you need to be better prepared for post-PhD consulting jobs. You’re highly encouraged to check it out.

Prepare for the Interview

Your problem solving and research skills along with foundational courses in consulting can definitely be of great advantage during the consulting interview. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Consulting interviews can be tricky, but you can make the situation way better by being well-acquainted with the interview process.

The consulting interview process can be divided into two categories:

  • Consulting fit interview
  • Consulting case interview

In a consulting fit interview, the interviewer will ask you to walk them through your resume, and ask basic questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “Why did you choose the consulting industry?” You will also be asked behavioral questions to test how you’re likely to behave in a given situation. For example, “Describe a situation in which you disagreed with your manager.”

Basically, interviewers want to test your personality and motivation behind joining the consulting industry in a consulting fit interview. However, in a consulting case interview, things get way more technical. You will be given a case study and asked to solve problems live before the interviewer. You will need to use your problem solving skills and the knowledge of consulting frameworks to get through this one.

Keen to learn more about consulting interviews? Then check out the following articles:

Consulting fit interview: 3 Types of Questions That Are Almost Always Included in Consulting Fit Interviews

Consulting case interview: 4 Types of Questions You Should Expect in Your Consulting Interview