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Consulting assignments

What does a graduate consultant do?

It's natural to wonder what you'll actually be doing as a graduate consultant. Take a look at the sorts of tasks a graduate can expect on a consulting project.

The initial team defines objectives for the assignment and presents these to the client.

If you've read our general introduction to consulting careers, you'll have a good idea of what the profession is all about. But you may still have questions about what you'll actually be doing as a graduate consultant. Fact-finding, making recommendations and updating the client are part of the job for any graduate assigned to a management consulting project. Often one stage of the assignment overlaps with another and the length and character of the whole thing will vary depending on the client, their business and the issues being tackled. Here are the key elements (simplified, of course) of a typical assigment:

1. Defining The initial team examines a client's situation and identifies issues to tackle. It defines objectives for the assignment and presents these to the client. Graduate roles: researching the company and collating information (eg financial data).

2. Identifying The full team is assembled and fully briefed for the assignment. The steering committee is also identified and assembled in the client organisation. Graduate roles: preparing briefing material(s) for the consulting team; conducting further research.

3. Fact-finding This is the stage where the consulting team begins to work closely with the client team. They begin interviews with members at every level of the client organisation. Graduate roles: scheduling and conducting interviews; writing up findings.

4. Updating the client Throughout the process the client steering committee is kept up to date with findings and progress. Graduate roles: preparing client briefing notes; summarising findings and conclusions so far.

5. Making recommendations Through brainstorming, and as a result of the previous steps, solutions based on the information collected are identified. Consultants feed back ideas to the client team and present recommended solutions. Graduate roles: participation in brainstorming sessions; writing up recommendations into presentations.

6. Implementing the client solution Consultants work with the client to implement recommendations. Graduate roles: organising training sessions for client organisation employees; monitoring progress; writing up results and solutions for future reference.

For more information, take a look at the profiles of working consultants in the 'working life' section. Each of these focuses on an individual working for a top consulting firm, and allows you a glimpse into their working lives. As a bonus, they also offer their tips on getting a graduate job or internship in consulting. Also take a look at what you can expect in your first few weeks of a graduate consulting job.

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