Skills you'll need in management consulting

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Management consulting firms are very hard to get into. Like investment banks, they love academic excellence. They also like all-rounders: it will help if you've done something interesting outside your studies, like founded a university club or played sport. It will also help if you already have some interesting work experience on your resumé - like an internship at another top consulting firm.

To get into consulting, you'll need to be smart. But more than that, you'll need to be empathetic and good with people. It's not enough for a consultant just to come in, analyze a problem, and set about implementing a solution. He or she also needs to get the client on his/her side. This might be why Darci Darnell, a partner in Bain & Co's Chicago office, tells us you'll need to be able to "put yourself into client shoes", and to have emotional as well as intellectual intelligence.

Samantha Cory, a senior manager at PWC's consulting practice, says consultants need to have excellent communication skills. "Sometimes you need to communicate messages to the client that they don’t want to hear so you need to be able to express yourself clearly and confidently," she tells. Cory says you'll also need 'commercial awareness', or an understanding of how companies in the sector you're consulting in work, and an analytical mind so that you can understand the root cause of a problem and identify solutions that will resolve the issue.

Finally, Cory says consultants can benefit from being creative (they need new ideas to help solve sometimes old problems), enthusiasm and flexibility. "The beauty of Consulting is that no two projects are the same, you will be working with different colleagues and clients so you will need to adapt to the differing environments. I like to describe consulting as ‘being comfortable with the uncomfortable," she concludes.