Submitted by Harshil Mehta, first-year MBA student
The Illinois Business Consulting Conference 2007 took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) on September 6 and 7. The event is organized by the University of Illinois annually and the university recruits various consulting companies to attend each year. There were approximately 170 students from as many as 20 business schools in attendance. Around 22 companies including Accenture, BearingPoint, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, Huron Consulting Group, Hitachi Consulting, The Keystone Group, Mercer HR and other firms participated in the conference.
The conference kicked off at 7 p.m. on September 6 with an informal gathering where appetizers and drinks were served to the participants; and students and employers networked. The students were typically second-year MBAs, yet quite a few first-year students attended as well. An UIUC second-year student suggested that the consulting conference was responsible for helping her secure an internship, along with internship opportunities for other students. The event lasted for two hours and the students got a head start for the main conference the next day.
The Weatherhead School of Management was represented by six first-year MBA students and J.T. Neuffer from the career development center team. Neuffer discussed with the students the do's and don'ts at career fairs and conferences.
The second day started early at 7:30 a.m., with registration and breakfast. Students got a chance to connect with employers over coffee. After the welcome note by Paul Magelli, senior advisor to the president, Kauffman Foundation, the firms began their presentations to the audience consisting of a mix of students and employers. Firms presented on different types of consulting careers available and the specific attributes they look for in candidates when recruiting. The organizations also elaborated on the life of a consultant and on what it takes to excel in the consulting field. Allstate Insurance Company gave a presentation on internal consulting and what a typical internal consultant does.
To sum up, a few of the qualities required to be a good consultant include excellent client interaction, ability to be responsible for all the tasks, very good problem solving techniques, high Excel and presentation skills, willingness to travel, ability to work in teams and participation in extracurricular activities. The companies also emphasized that consultants should not be afraid of asking questions and that they should frequently ask the right questions at the appropriate time to deliver desired results.
After the presentations there was a meet the firms session for an hour and a half at which students were able to network with firms of interest. A CD containing the resume of registered students was given to employers for their reference. The conference ended in with Jill Smart, chief human resources officer, Accenture, enthusiastically shedding some light on her illustrious consulting career of 29 years. She highlighted the three Cs to success -- namely, competence, confidence and caring.
All in all, the conference was a good information session for first-year MBA students and it provided insight on different career opportunities, skill sets required and tasks to be performed in a consulting firm. For the second-year students it provided an opportunity to connect with employers and discuss possible employment opportunities. The conference is a must visit for students specifically looking for consulting careers.