If you’re considering a career in consulting, a summer internship in your penultimate year at university is a great first step towards a graduate job. Many firms recruit for their graduate schemes directly from their internship schemes and from those at other firms. 

As a result, it’s vital you impress and stand out from the crowd at every stage of the process. 

When to apply for a consulting internship

You should apply for consulting internships in the penultimate year of your degree, at the earliest available opportunity. 

Places are allocated on a rolling basis at the vast majority of firms so it’s important not to delay.

Structure of a consulting internship

Consulting internships usually last for 6-8 weeks and you can expect a 9am-8pm day on average, with some late finishes to be expected.

Internships usually begin with a week of induction and training, designed to familiarise you with the basics of the consulting industry. Following this, you’ll spend your internship working with teams in a couple of different departments. If you have expressed an interest in working within a particular business area, most firms will make an effort to match that request with one of your placements. 

In addition to your work, the firm will arrange networking and social events outside of office hours, which give you a chance to informally mingle with senior staff as well as your fellow interns.

5 things to know before your first day as a consulting intern

Expect to be given a lot of responsibility

One of the biggest fears about doing an internship can often be that you won’t get to work on anything significant and will instead be handed the unglamorous office jobs nobody else wants to do. 

In consulting, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Be prepared to be given plenty of real, client-facing work once your induction is completed, as departments will treat you like a regular member of their team.

Have an opinion

Partners and project leaders appreciate smart, thought-provoking contributions regardless of whether they come from an experienced consultant or an intern so don’t be afraid to chip in and say something if you feel an important point is being overlooked.

Be prepared to seek out networking opportunities

Be proactive from the moment you arrive, taking every possible opportunity to speak to someone within the firm. 

Consultants are expected to seek out work rather than wait for it to come to them, so interns with a similar attitude will leave a strong impression on people.

Ask lots of questions

Don’t be afraid to question anything you don’t understand, especially as it’s better to do so at the start than months or years into working in the industry. 

You’ll soon realise that a significant part of a consultant’s job is to ask the right sort of questions, so questioning things around you can demonstrate you have the right mindset to succeed in the industry.

Review what you learn each day

You can expect to encounter lots of different facts, figures, and technical terms throughout your internship and especially on your first day. 

Be sure to make a note of anything important that comes up and go over them when you’re home at the end of every day. If there’s anything you struggle to understand when you go back over it, make sure you ask about it the following day.