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Inside on-campus consulting recruitment

A sign reading Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building in the foreground of a gothic building.
The Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

The resumes of over 724 Princeton alumni from the Class of 2016 to the Class of 2022 boast the names of top management consulting firms, such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company. These prestigious firms participate in on-campus recruiting at Princeton, a notoriously competitive process consisting of several rounds of interviews. The combination of well-resourced recruiting programs and personal connections Princeton alumni have with undergraduates create a distinct pipeline to the consulting industry. 

Kimberly Betz, executive director of the Center for Career Development at Princeton, explained that on-campus recruiting is unique to certain industries, like consulting, investment banking, and finance. Industries like the arts, communication, healthcare, nonprofits don’t typically recruit on campus.


Consulting firms recruit at target schools like Princeton to hire entry-level cohorts of employees from a pool of what Betz characterized as “wonderful, highly educated, and gifted students.” The Center for Career Development establishes lines of communication with these employers, who interact with students through coffee chats, interviews, and career fairs on campus. 

“They’ve got the infrastructure to send recruiters to campuses to look specifically at new college grads. From the employer’s perspective, it’s an investment of time and personnel and resources,” Betz told the Daily Princetonian in an interview.

“When folks see recruiting happening, early in the fall, it’s important to make people aware of the fact that in some ways, that’s anomalous for how hiring works,” Betz continued.  

The alumni connections to top consulting firms also contributes to the presence of on-campus recruiting. “Princeton alumni really value [candidates’] experience here — the academics and skills that you’re building within the classroom,” says Krystyn Kitto, senior associate director of employer engagement at the Career Center. “That’s a big reason why they are interested in coming back to recruit different students here.”

Alison Lee ’24, a senior A.B. Computer Science major, landed an internship at BCG the summer after her junior year. Lee established a connection with her recruiter at BCG, a Princeton alum, while wristbanding at Reunions. 

“There are many people from Princeton that apply [to consulting jobs] so while it can help get your foot in the door, you still have to put in the work,” Lee said


Part of the work for Lee was thoroughly preparing for her “case interviews,” hypothetical business problems where applicants are asked to design a recommendation or solution. To prepare, Lee practiced with over 50 case studies throughout the summer. Lee “cased,” colloquially referring to case studies, with classmates at Princeton and people she had met in previous internships, using hypothetical practice cases in consulting books. 

She admits that although she was at the “extreme end of prep” compared to other candidates, the recruiting process is definitely “a decent amount of work,” but not unlike other highly competitive industries like software.

The degree of preparation candidates put into recruiting differs by individual. Charles Mshomba ’24, a senior in the Politics department, interned at BCG both summers after his sophomore and junior years and recently received an offer to return to BCG full-time as an entry-level Associate after graduation.

“I did some online cases with my friends and my brother to get a sense of what kinds of things [the employer] is looking for and what kind of skills they want you to have, but I don’t remember it being something that I poured hours and hours into,” Mshomba recalled.

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Although Lee and Mshomba both took introductory level economics courses, neither had any formal training in finance or business.

“For casing, there’s a lot of how you structure problems,” Mshomba said. “A lot of liberal arts courses in general can prepare you for that, so I didn’t have to show business or financial knowledge.”

In fact, the inherent problem-solving nature of consulting is what attracted Lee to the position in the first place.

“I felt it was a really good combination of my skills,” Lee said. “It’s very fast paced, but you get to learn about different industries and build your toolkit for how to problem solve.”

Both Lee and Mshomba credited consulting at BCG as a stepping stone to learn about different industries and explore other careers.

“I wanted a job immediately after college where you get to try out different things, learn about different industries and different types of projects,” Mshomba said. “I like the idea of taking a little bit more time before figuring out what I might want to dive into for work and a job where you can remain a generalist for some time is appealing.”

Lee said she hopes to use consulting as a pathway to a career in entrepreneurship. 

“I think I would eventually like to be an entrepreneur and being able to synthesize data really quickly and learn alot about an industry or a problem, and make rapid decisions is going to be really useful when I do that,” Lee said.

With the fall semester starting, hundreds of Princeton students will be going through the same process in anticipation of next summer.

Valentina Moreno is a staff Features writer for the Prince.

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