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How Can An MBA Help You Land Consulting Jobs?

Want to leave your old industry and land consulting jobs? Kogod's assistant director of graduate admissions, Lisa Francis, says business school is the perfect way to make that pivot


Wed Sep 16 2020


After working as an admissions director here at American University’s Kogod School of Business for just over a year, I enrolled as a student in our MBA program in the Fall of 2019. 

Pursuing a graduate business degree felt like a clear and natural fit, given my goal of starting my own business down the road.  

Prior to joining American University, I worked in the media industry as a corporate recruiter. My former manager challenged my team to work with a “consultative mindset”. She encouraged us to use data and best practices to advise both our candidates and internal clients through the hiring process. Little did I know this initial training would prove incredibly valuable as both an admissions counselor and MBA student. 

Given that I wear these two “hats” here at Kogod, I have had the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of consulting jobs and building such a skillset in business school. 

What skills do you need to be a consultant? 

In essence, consulting is advising organizations on the best course of action to achieve their goal(s). 

 Consultants use many tools at their disposal in order to craft these recommendations, such as databases, interviews, and expert networks. They can work across a wide variety of sectors, such as strategy, operations, human capital, technology––the list goes on! 

The goal of pursuing eventual careers in the consulting industry is a common motivator for many prospective students applying to business school––and for good reason. Depending on the graduate business degree you ultimately choose to pursue, you can gain the training you need to succeed as consultant in the industry you choose. 

Your options: Is the MBA your best option for a career in consulting? 

Many business schools––including Kogod––offer master’s degrees, in addition to the MBA at the graduate level.  

While MSc degrees are more concentrated on one area of business, with the goal of students becoming subject matter experts, I oftentimes describe an MBA as a “business buffet”. Pursuing an MBA provides students with the opportunity to try many different areas of business, with a strong emphasis in developing strategy and leadership skills. Regardless of which degree is ultimately right for you, there can be a home for you within the consulting industry.  

Consultants can either work within a consultant firm––juggling multiple projects and multiple clients at once––or they choose to work in-house within a broader organization. It’s a diverse field and an incredible way to utilize the hard and soft skill toolkit you’ll develop in your graduate business program, as well as complementing your previous academic and professional experiences. It’s a profession that lends itself well to people who may identify as a “career pivoter”.  


How do I position my MBA application for a consulting pivot? 

As an admissions director, Im consistently asked what my one piece of advice is for applicants who are in the process of applying, or are even considering applying to a graduate business program.  

Without question, that advice is to think backwards: reverse engineer your career and envision the end goal. In fact, Steve Jobs famously said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.” 

This is especially applicable if you’re looking to pursue careers in consulting. You’ll be thankful that you chose a degree and pursued opportunities that ultimately honed your skillset in preparation for your desired next steps.  

You just need to make sure you do your research first, and figure out your specific areas of interest within consulting so they program you choose best fits your career goals.  

Personally, I chose to pursue an MBA because I felt that my own skillset could use additional development. Given the emphasis on education both in and outside of the classroom as a graduate business student, I consistently advise applicants and my fellow classmates to pursue real-life projects that complement their studies.  

Would Kogod help me pivot?

Here at the Kogod, experiential education is a key component of the graduate experience. Nearly every one of our graduate programs provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-life business scenario.  

I strongly recommend those students looking to pivot into a consulting role keep a close eye out for programs that emphasize experiential education 

As a current student myself, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable my MBA from Kogod has been in my own development. 

The experience of working to develop your skillset at business school––even when your prior work experience in this field––is a cornerstone of any successful career in consulting.  

Student Reviews

Kogod School of Business - American University




On Campus

Clean and well maintained campus

I am completely enamored with this school. The entire student body is driven, inclusive, and highly intelligent. The decision to attend American University is not made haphazardly. Its close proximity to Washington DC, making it one of the most strategically located schools after Georgetown, means it's just a short train ride away. The campus is well-maintained, with mostly attractive buildings, although there are a few that are less appealing. Additionally, there are numerous excellent food options available. The wide range of clubs and organizations to join is remarkable. It is undeniably a school filled with immense passion.




On Campus

City life

I’m having a wonderful time at American University. I love that I can get to a big city and still feel like a traditional campus. Sincerely, it is a school that may require some adjusting to, but in the end, it is a very good school with numerous opportunities for its students. The atmosphere in AU is so great that it pushes you in a positive way and offers every opportunity you could want.




On Campus

Amazing helpful professors

American College is an incredible school with astounding teachers. Best professors I could have asked for at an amazing school. My opinion is that American University's professors are its greatest asset. They are extremely intelligent and always eager to assist their students. They go above and beyond in their classes to make sure that their students do their best.




On Campus

AU Review

The workload is quite high and AU is definitely not an "easy" school. Students take their studies very seriously and can almost always find a group in the library, DAV, Starbucks or MGC. Courses can be quite ambitious if the right courses are offered and the admissions process can be confusing at times, but with the help of an advisor it is quite easy to navigate. The library can be crowded, and while it's not huge, there are plenty of other places to study on campus. The professors really want to help during office hours and interact with students. I've had good experiences with the professors and workload at AU, but it's an expensive city.




On Campus

Majoring in Political and International Relations

The instructors are unique and the classes can be boring at times. Check-in is stressful (but it is everywhere). The workload is what I expected. The most popular majors are international relations and political science




On Campus

I Love Being A Musical Theater Major

I love being a musical theater student, if you want to help behind the scenes, if you want to be an assistant director, if you want to be a director, if you want to write, you can do anything at this academy, very supportive, it's amazing, they are always there to help you. This is their working time. Even after the audition tells you what you did wrong, you can do better, or if you get picked, you know why they picked you, which is great




On Campus

AU's Business Model

Overall, there were a lot of good opportunities at UA, both in terms of course range and faculty. However, I had a few complete misfires. People who shouldn't have taught at all. Like all universities, AU's business model is to hire hands-on assistants so they don't have to pay them extra or perform well. They are signed and if that does not work, they are not hired any more. The problem with this is that you end up with people who are unqualified and bring their own agendas, biases that may or may not be based on research. Most of the professors were absolutely fantastic.




On Campus

AU - The Real Problem With Academics

Some teachers are amazing, some awful - typical of any school. But the real problem with AU is that many students don't care about academics as much as other things (eg, partying). The academics are really interrupted by the Greek life and the social life of the students. This makes it difficult for students interested in academics to get the most out of their school experience. Some students do not take classes seriously and do not respect teachers and other students. Courses and opportunities at UA are perfect for people who want to take advantage




On Campus

American University - The Best Place to Study

They know their stuff - I chose American University because the campus is beautiful and the biology program is relatively small. But after the first semester, I realized that all the professors, especially the people in the science department, are experts in their field. They are enthusiastic and helpful in lecturing; even the TAs who teach the labs are amazing and engaging.