Gator Career Chat: Careers in Consulting – Panel Event Recap and Event Recording

On Thursday, November 2, 2023, the Career Connections Center hosted a virtual panel event on careers in consulting. We partnered with four UF Alumni working within various industries in consultant roles. The link to the panel recording is posted below, along with a written summary of the event:

Link to the event reocording:

Meeting Summary for Gator Career Chat: Careers in Consulting — Generated by ZOOM
Sarah facilitated a discussion about consulting where panelists shared their experiences and career trajectories in consulting, emphasizing the importance of technical aptitude, problem-solving, and adaptability. The consultants also shared their methods for preparing for client work, advised students to secure an internship, and highlighted the need for a resilient mindset. They answered questions about the differences between consulting roles and provided tips for working in tech fields as a business major. They advised attendees to continue learning and following through on commitments.
Consulting Career Panel Discussion
Sarah facilitated a discussion about consulting, allowing panelists to share their experiences and career trajectories. Mike, Heather, Ernesto, Daphne, and Keith all shared their backgrounds and current roles in consulting, discussing what they do and what they’ve learned throughout their careers. The panelists encouraged attendees to ask questions and explore opportunities in the field of consulting.
Consultant Experiences and Skills
The panel discussed their experiences and definitions of being a consultant. Keith emphasized the role of a consultant as a problem solver and teacher, while Heather highlighted the variety and challenge that the job provides. Ernesto stressed the importance of navigating corporate spaces and wanting a diversified experience, while Daphne highlighted the role’s suitability for those with different backgrounds. The panelists also shared their thoughts on the necessary skills and qualifications for a successful consulting career, with Heather noting the importance of trust, presentation skills, and technical aptitude, and Daphne adding the need for adaptability and the ability to work in a team.
Consultant Skills and Characteristics
Keith, Ernesto, Daphne, and Sarah discussed the important skills and characteristics for a successful consultant. They emphasized the significance of being on time, doing good work, having a good attitude, communication, problem-solving, initiative, adaptability, and a resilient mindset. Daphne added that being a generalist when starting out can offer exposure to different sectors and teams, and encouraged new consultants to ask many questions and not feel lost when they start. Sarah echoed the importance of being a lifelong learner and showcasing resilience in meeting clients’ needs.
Client Work Preparation Methods
The consultants discussed their methods for preparing for client work. Heather emphasized the importance of understanding the client’s statement of work (SOW) and having a clear understanding of the scope of the project. She also highlighted the importance of adapting to the client’s needs while sticking to the project’s goals. Ernesto stressed the significance of understanding the project’s history and current status, which allows for a quick and valuable contribution to the team. Daphne emphasized the importance of understanding the client’s past work with the company and utilizing firm resources to become acquainted with the client. Keith emphasized the importance of utilizing the firm’s resources, understanding the specifics of the client’s industry, and researching the client’s industry trends. He also suggested understanding the client’s internal values to align the project requirements with their values.
Importance of Research and Student Experiences
Sarah emphasized the importance of research and not working for free. As the discussion transitioned into student questions, the panelists shared their college experiences that prepared them for their roles. Daphne mentioned the organizations she joined, such as SEO and impact consulting, which helped her learn more about finance and consulting. Ernesto highlighted his involvement in student organizations and his experience overcoming a stutter to publicly speak. Keith reflected on his finance and programming classes, stating that they helped him develop logical thinking and discipline, both crucial skills for a consultant.
Consulting Preparation: Networking and Public Speaking
Sarah asked for practical advice on how students can prepare for consulting and the importance of networking in the consulting industry. Heather suggested that students should practice public speaking, communicating their achievements, and building relationships. She also emphasized the importance of networking, attending career fairs, and keeping in touch with professors and organization members. Daphne added that networking should be a continuous practice and encouraged students to reach out to alumni in consulting. Ernesto advised students to gain professional exposure and capture their impact on their resumes. He also highlighted the importance of networking for interview preparation and articulating one’s career goals.
Preparation, Internships, and Tech Tips
Ernesto, Keith, Heather, and Daphne discussed the importance of preparation, especially for consulting roles. They advised students to focus on the work rather than the job title and recommended securing an internship to gain valuable experience and potentially a return offer. They also emphasized the benefits of joining business honor societies or fraternities to learn more about the industry. The panelists answered a student’s question about the differences between consulting roles and advised students to consider both large and small consulting firms when seeking internships. Finally, they provided tips for working in tech fields as a business major, highlighting the importance of understanding the specific needs of each company.
Active Visibility and Technical Aptitude in Hybrid Settings
Ernesto stressed the importance of appearing visible and participating actively in a hybrid setting, such as turning on the camera and speaking out loud. He also mentioned the significance of making a presence known. Heather emphasized the value of technical experience in the tech field and encouraged students to highlight any technical aptitude they have. Keith and Daphne echoed the importance of researching the organization thoroughly before interviews, and Keith specifically highlighted the value of good questions indicating research and interest in the organization. Daphne recommended using the organization’s website as a resource for interview preparation and suggested the textbook “Case in Point” for preparation of case interviews.
Consulting Career Advice
Trey expressed his interest in becoming a consultant and sought advice on whether to pursue a master’s degree or start working immediately after his bachelor’s. Heather emphasized that the value of a master’s degree depends on the individual’s career goals and suggested that he consider the potential benefits of obtaining a CPA certification. Daphne pointed out that there might be limitations to career advancements without a CPA, particularly in larger consulting firms. Keith reiterated the benefits of obtaining consulting experience over additional education. Heather, Daphne, and Keith also discussed the potential of consulting as a part-time job. In their final remarks, they advised the attendees to continue learning and following through on commitments. The panelists also suggested that attendees send thank-you notes after interviews as a way to stand out.
By Sarah Blackmon
Sarah Blackmon Career Pathways Coach -- Human Services, Consulting, and Education