Where does experience come from?
August 11, 2012 10:31 PM Subscribe
What projects could I work on and tactics could I employ to make myself a compelling internship candidate in consulting? I have little relevant experience but significant passion and interest.
posted by R a c h e l to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a rising college sophomore in NYC.
I've realized that I really enjoy research and problem-solving, and I would like to pursue consulting as a future option. I know it's a broad category, so internships are the obvious way to figure out what I am capable of and enjoy. I actually think I could be pretty good at it, given the chance - problem is, I don't know how to mold my experience to make myself a compelling applicant.
Internships are, of course, supposed to be a way to build experience. But everything I see seems pretty competitive and intimidating (and I have an irrational fear about my applications being ridiculously stupid and therefore having burned bridges with only a resume and a cover letter). I have small amounts of retail, political campaign (including managing volunteers and taking leadership roles, if only in the short term - no strategy/research work though really), and public interaction/education experience, but none of that seems especially relevant, although I do think I have strong references from those. I didn't really go above and beyond in any way academically last year, maintaining an A- type average and not really interfacing with or impressing professors in any way, so I don't have any spectacular recommendations there.
I don't think "I prepare extensive spreadsheets to allow my dad to easily pick economical cellphone plans" is adequate proof of passion, but it is truthfully the way I am about things and the reason I think I'd be great. It's not something I've done in an academic or work environment nearly enough (in retrospect, I may have missed out on certain opportunities in the past, but hindsight is 20/20).
What avenues would make sense to pursue to make myself an undeniable candidate tomorrow, or next semester, or in a year? Here's what I've thought of:
-independent projects (ie blogging or something, although I can't think of relevant topics)
-structuring my schedule and working academically in a way that my professors will know who I am and how above-and-beyond I occasionally went come next semester. (definitely doing this. Specific tactics welcomed.)
-pursuing extracurricular/club leadership - I didn't really pursue extracurricular activities last year (I kind of coasted and went numb), so no leadership opportunities as of yet, but I'm looking forward to getting seriously involved in the fall. (again, specific guidance welcomed).
-political involvement - I have somebody pretty powerful (boss of former boss) currently reaching out about leadership opportunities near school on the same national campaign for me. I think they hold me in pretty high esteem, so this seems like the easiest avenue. I don't know what will pan out, but campaigns seem like a pretty great opportunity to do anything and everything.
-informal internships - I'd love to help someone getting their shit together for their kickstarter-bound project, but I have no idea how to find such a person. I worked for a small business all summer, and I've come to recognize the fantastic opportunities of working for a small team.
-formal internships - again, like above: how can I distinguish myself from other applicants with leadership and project experience, or great professor recs, or really any part of the solid background I lack?
I have probably 25 hours a week to comfortably spare for extracurriculars and internships combined. It's certainly not a lot, which I realize.