Fridays from the Frontline: How an NYU Stern MBA Student Went from Not Knowing What Consulting Was to Killing it at Accenture
In the post that follows, NYU Stern MBA student TJ Herrle reveals that he didn’t even know what management consulting was when he first began considering an MBA. He came to business school from a nontraditional background that included a few years in government as well as working internationally at startups. But that unfamiliarity certainly didn’t stop him from landing a summer internship at Accenture between his first and second years—and thriving in it.
If you want to learn more about management consulting—and specifically about how to pivot from a less traditional pre-MBA background—check out Herrle’s post below!
This post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series,” which sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences.
How an NYU Stern MBA Student Went from Not Knowing What Consulting Was to Killing it at Accenture
By TJ Herrle, MBA ‘18
When I began considering an MBA, I didn’t know what management consulting even was. I came from a non-traditional professional background, with a few years of government work experience and several years working internationally at startups. But with the help of an entire ecosystem of people and resources at Stern, I’m excited to say that I’m halfway through a very successful summer internship at Accenture Consulting.
This brings me to the two big questions I want to tackle. First, back to my pre-MBA days: What even is management consulting? And secondly, how did I make that pivot to end up at Accenture this summer?
The way I see it, management consulting is all about helping clients uncover and address their most critical business needs. It always starts with a problem. Maybe a client is losing market share to a new competitor in the industry. Perhaps a firm is looking to replace an older technology system with a better product. Whatever the case may be, clients hire management consultants to help them think through the problem, structure an approach, and develop a solution to achieve meaningful, quantifiable results.
Now to bring the high-level into some day-to-day takeaways for incoming MBA students considering entering this industry. For starters, you have to love working with people. From client-side meetings to late-night project team work sessions, consulting is an incredibly interactive field. If you thrive in that type of fast-paced, collaborative environment like I do, consulting might be a great fit. Next, you should be comfortable digesting large amounts of information and developing organized, synthesized output, usually in the form of a spreadsheet or a slide. You have to prioritize the information and learn to make decisions without having all of the data you may want. Lastly, from a practical standpoint, you have to be OK with what can at times be a demanding schedule. It’s not uncommon to be on the road every week during any given project or to have to put in extra hours when a deadline is approaching. That said, those demands can be incredibly rewarding in terms of both personal and professional development.
Now for my second big question: How did I make the pivot and end up at Accenture? It was a mix of leveraging the many great people and resources at Stern and putting in a lot of hard work. From a resources standpoint at Stern I think of three big buckets. One is the Office of Career Development (OCD). They provide a series of skills workshops through the IGNITE program, and they host companies on-campus for corporate presentations where you learn about a firm and network with consultants. An OCD-sponsored Accenture corporate presentation is where I first connected with the firm. The second bucket is the student-led Management Consulting Association (MCA). MCA partners with consulting firms to host additional networking opportunities and workshops, with events such as lunch-and-learns and a weekly casing boot camp. The third bucket is yourself and your peers. Stern provides a clear starting point for how to pursue management consulting, but you must combine that with your own efforts to position yourself for success. For me, that meant spending many a Saturday afternoon practicing consulting cases with friends, as well as working independently on specific skills I needed to improve. If you haven’t yet heard about the collaborative community at Stern, let me make sure it’s on your radar. I can’t say enough positive things about the availability, helpfulness, and support offered by my classmates along my own recruitment journey, and I imagine many others share that same sentiment.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was wondering what management consulting even was, and now I’m halfway through my summer internship in that exact field. My time at Accenture has taught me a lot, and I’m thrilled that I am exploring this path. If you’re considering making a change to enter management consulting, from where I sit, Stern is a great place for you to make it happen.