Consulting Internship Tips

A consulting internship gives a real world look at the business of consultancies, including actual cases in which the intern participates as a functional member of the consulting process. This is fascinating work, but the expectations of the internship provider are also very high. Your internship involves working hard.

There's a very strong element of practical training in the internship, which includes learning business methodologies and practices through direct involvement. These internships reward interns with critically important experience and skill sets which are valuable career assets. At entry level, consulting internships provide valuable support to starting your career. Consultancies need to analyze the experience of job applicants in detail, because of the nature of the work and the high levels of responsibility. Consultancy internships provide exactly that level of experience. An internship is a career builder in the most practical way.

Finding consulting internships

Internships are widely advertised, particularly in industry publications and online. Consulting businesses are quite diverse in both nature of work and industries. Even in the same industry, you'll find a lot of variety in types of internship. Business consultancies tend to be much more generic, but marketing and other areas vary a lot.

Your main priority has to be to find internships which relate well to your intended career path. Some research, and above all direct contact with internship providers, is required.

Important: Internships can lead directly to jobs in some consultancies. Some major internship providers also recruit through their consultancy programs. This is optional, and commitments to employ aren't made, but it's worth checking out the possibilities.

Interview preparation

Consulting internships are much in demand, and interviews are very competitive. This is an interview where performance is important. Your preparation needs to include your personal presentation as well as your job skills:

Presentation: Your interview presentation needs to show:

  • Fluent communications skills: Structured answers are essential. Use the STAR technique as a model.

  • Good interpersonal skills

  • Confidence in your ability to perform the work

Interview questions

Job skills: Clear indication of competencies is essential. If you're a student or recent graduate, your grades and specializations are important. For those with business experience your job skills questions will cover:

  • Experience and levels of responsibility: Your prior experience is a verifiable reference to your skill levels. Emphasize your more important roles. If appropriate, use budget examples to show levels of responsibility. 

  • Examples of relevant work: These may require detailed answers, so revise your work history and check your records.

  • Problem solving skills: Consultancy is very much a problem solving exercise. Select good, relevant examples for these questions.

  • Industry specific skills: These questions are intended to explore your industry knowledge, and will relate directly to the work of the consultancy. Research the consultancy's work, ask directly for information covering these areas.

Matching the job requirements

The first question you get may well be "What do you know about our business?" An important factor in selection is matching the employer's core business requirements. You will need to have a good overview of the employer's business, and show appropriate knowledge and understanding of issues.