Resources on Consulting for PhDs and Post-Docs

Introduction
Resources at Career Services
University-Wide Resources

General Resources
    Firms Known for Hiring Advanced Degree Recipients
    Firms that Consult in Biotech/Pharmaceuticals/Healthcare
    Case Interview Help


    Introduction

    With the continuing stagnation of the job market in academia and elsewhere, a career in consulting has become a more attractive option for many University of Pennsylvania graduate students.  But consulting jobs come in many shapes and sizes, and may not be the best "fit" for everyone.

    Basically, being a consultant means that you are being paid by clients to solve a problem that they can't solve on their own.  You may be expected to do that in many ways: by using your own expertise in IT, engineering, financial analysis or research to resolve a specific problem, or by employing broad-based decision-making processes to help a client evaluate its overall business strategy, conduct a merger or acquisition or revamp its entire organizational structure.  In fact, there are probably as many kinds of consultants as there are problems that any organization, large or small, is likely to experience at some time in its growth.

    Succeeding as a consultant requires three basic strengths:

    • First, you must have well-developed intellectual skills, built on a foundation of curiosity and drive for self-development.  You must be able to think both creatively and logically, and perhaps even more importantly, be able to "tolerate ambiguity" that is, move issues forward and seek solutions to problems even when the situation or outcome may not be clear.
    • Second, you must have a considerable amount of emotional resilience.  This includes such qualities as patience, perseverance and the ability to maintain focus in the midst of work demands that can be highly stressful and physically demanding.  At the beginning stages of their careers, for instance, many consultants will be expected to put in 10 to 12-hour days on a given assignment and may also have to travel at least 50% of the time.
    • Third, a successful consultant needs to be able to "influence" others.  This requires the ability to persuade, the skills needed to negotiate successfully, and above all, the capacity to create and sustain strong working relationships with others--clients as well as colleagues.  Without this capacity, even the most insightful, knowledgeable person will have difficulty working with a team or building a consulting practice.

    Consulting firms come in many shapes and sizes.  There are large, diversified organizations that offer a wide range of services, like Accenture, Capgemini and Deloitte. There are a number of mid-size firms that are more specialized and may focus on IT or Strategy Consulting, like Bain and Co., McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group.  And last, but certainly not least, there are many boutique firms that focus on specific industries, technologies or markets, like USA-based Insight CP, iProCon Ltd in the UK, R2P GmbH in Germany, and CFAR here in Philadelphia. These firms often operate according to a specific theory or have developed a particular methodology that puts them in a "niche" of their own.

    For more information on consulting, you can check out Vault, Wetfeet, Kennedy Information, or many other resources we have listed below.




    Resources at Career Services




    University-Wide Resources




    General Resources


    consutling firms




    Firms Known for Hiring Advanced Degree Recipients

    This is not an exhaustive list, but represents some of the companies that have come to campus for OCR, career fairs, to give information sessions, or to participate in panel discussions. Make use of your Penn networks (e.g., LinkedIn, QuakerNet) to make contact with Penn alumni working at these organizations.




    PhD students have a variety of consulting opportunities, and career path and lifestyle are both important factors in choosing a firm. Depending on the firm, some consultants may specialize in certain industries while others work on projects from a broad range of industries. Those who work at boutique consultancies may find that their exit options are narrower compared to consultants who worked broadly across different industries. In terms of lifestyle, some consultants may travel up to 80% of the time to work at client sites, while others may work primarily with local clients and therefore travel much less. 

    Firms that Consult in Biotech/Pharmaceuticals/Healthcare

    There are different types of consulting companies within the life sciences and healthcare field, and the information presented here represents some of the feedback we have received from Penn alumni who have had experience working in different types of companies. Each person will have different perspectives about what is a good fit for them, and you should take every opportunity to explore the different types of companies for yourself.



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