How to leverage background to enter consulting?

So to begin my short story, I have to give you some background on myself....

I graduated from an incredible school called Northeastern (not sure you have heard of it but its in Boston and its famous for having one of the best co-op programs in the country). Now as a Northeastern student, you are required to complete 2-3 co-op placements which are each 6 month full time internships in the working world. 

Now I am sure you are thinking this is incredible experience, wow I wish I went there or I need to send my kids here (which you should its awesome!). But when upon my last co-op at Staples during my senior I became interested in consulting. Additionally, as fate would have it I took a business strategy capstone class with one of the most well respected strategy professors in Boston. (She had a PHD in corporate strategy- she's a badass and I want to be her). 

So from both of those experiences, both in the professional and academic world I became obsessed with looking at companies from the wide perspective. Analyzing them into pieces and putting them back together, looking at the market and pinpointing a discrepancy or inefficiency in the market and exploiting that. However, post graduation there were no postings in our job portal that were consulting oriented. Furthermore, even fewer opportunities for people who did not have ivy league education to get into consulting. 

So I just kept going about my career path in supply chain- until an opportunity arose when I thought I could potentially make the switch to consulting or supply chain consulting. 

Yet I need some direction on how to get there... so I am here writing this post in hopes someone could shed some light on how others have done it. 

Hi Nikita. I went to UCLA for undergrad and worked in Private Equity and Strategy consulting for Kurt Salmon (recently purchased by Accenture Strategy). I'm now back at UCLA for business school where I have a summer internship in consulting.

I agree with most of what has been posted here. At UCLA Anderson, we send about 33% of people to consulting, including many to MBB, so I don't think you necessarily need to go to quite the level of m7 in order to break into consulting. But I do agree with people that the main route into consulting at this point for you would be through an MBA. I won't rehash what everyone else as said.

One additional suggestion that hasn't been mentioned is using Linkedin search. I did a search for people who currently work at Bain and used to go to Northeastern, and quickly saw that almost everyone had received an MBA or masters of some kind (or went to Bain immediately out of undergrad). Linkedin search is a good tool for aggregating a lot of data points on people's various career paths. I'd spend some time doing those searches and you could even consider reaching out to some people with interesting career paths, drawing on your shared experience at Northeastern.

I've worked at both Bain (from undergrad) and also Accenture & Deloitte in addition to smaller local consulting shops.  Your path will depend on what type of consulting firm you're looking to join.  If your heart is set on someplace like Bain / McKinsey / BCG, your only realistic option will be to go back and get an MBA and do a career switch.  Also, it is a little bit of a misnomer that you have to have an Ivy to get a top-tier consulting job.  Is it easier?  Yes of course.  My managing partner at Bain said he would hire his entire recruiting class from Harvard if he could.  But they can't so they have to broaden their search.  I definitely didn't go to an Ivy League school.

If you are willing to go to a 2nd tier consulting company like an Accenture or Deloitte, you have more options as they routinely hire experienced candidates that have specific domain expertise.  Accenture and Deloitte also have more strategy & operations oriented career paths (basically their market response to the Bain & McKinseys of the world) so it's not like you would be an IT implementation jockey.  Admittedly, the top-tier management consulting firms do more "pure" business strategy work - whereas the strategy arms of Accenture and Deloitte usually have a recommendation that their clients implement a new technology solution.  And oh by the way, did you know we have a fantastic technology consulting practice?  Let me introduce you to a great Partner who can tell you more...

A last option would be to join a smaller boutique consulting firm.  These tend to be run by ex-consultants who just didn't want to travel as much (if at all) so they tend to focus on smaller, more local clients.  They tend to be more flexible in terms of who they recruit since they can't obviously compete with the top tier firms for the best candidates.  While you might think this is a bad option, there are plenty of really good firms in this tier that are well recognized - firms like Slalom or Point B.  

My final piece of advice is that when I ran campus recruiting at Deloitte, I would routinely run into recruits who told me they wanted to be a consultant but couldn't really articulate why beyond surface level arguments.  Those recruits never made it far in the evaluation process.  Just make sure you can back up your passion with concrete examples / case studies of why you are drawn to consulting work.  I remember back in the mid 90s talking to the Bain folks about their supply chain and vendor management work with Dell and how it led to Dell taking significant market share in the PC business - that went a long way in terms of me getting an offer from them.

Best of luck

Agreed that an MBA is probably the best way to get into consulting. Another option is to use your network to your advantage. Setup coffee interviews with people in consulting. Sometimes they'll know of opportunities at their firm or at other firms and can make an intro. 

It's tough when you don't have the established network of an ivy school, but looking at your friends or friends of friends can often make up for the lack of a college network.

Hey Nikita - 

Thanks for sharing your story! I've had a few friends who wanted to make the career switch to consulting without top 10 undergraduate degrees, and the most common path I've seen is MBA -> internship at a top tier consulting firm -> finish MBA -> take the full time offer.

I've heard of people making switches without an MBA but it's tough to make a big switch AND join a top tier firm. But, if you got an MBA from an m7 school then it would be much easier for you to make the jump.

Hope that helps!