A University-wide organization of more than 600 Harvard graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, the Harvard Graduate Consulting Club (HGCC) creates significant opportunities for career exploration and development in consulting — a field whose importance as a career opportunity for PhD researchers is increasing.
The HGCC — which is one of more than 50 GSAS student organizations — was founded in 2006 by a group of graduate students who wanted to practice cases together to prepare for interviews at consulting firms. The club’s programs now include on-campus networking events, an annual case competition between Harvard and MIT, a mini-MBA program, and opportunities to participate in consulting engagements through the HGCC Volunteer Consulting Group. All Harvard-affiliated graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and scholars are eligible to participate in HGCC events.
For the two GSAS students who are HGCC co-presidents — George Ye, a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Nikhilesh Chand, a fifth-year PhD student in molecular and cellular biology — leading the organization evolved out of their own professional interest in consulting. “When I first heard about the club in 2008, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about the profession and gain some leadership and organization skills,” Ye says. “As the years have gone by, I feel that I have benefited tremendously from this role, both in terms of personal development and expanding my professional network.”
“Consulting-firm recruiting events on campus piqued my interest in consulting as a career,” says Chand. “HGCC helps students prepare for careers in consulting through a variety of activities geared towards developing their skills and establishing connections with professional firms that recruit on campus. For example, our popular mini-MBA program invites professors and industry professionals to give lectures on basic concepts in business, and we have over 100 participants from several different schools at Harvard
and even some from MIT. In addition, the MIT versus Harvard Case Competition [held each summer] allows students to work together as a team, examining real-world consulting problems over the course of 10 days and testing their mettle against their peers.”
“Feedback from our events suggests that participants benefit tremendously from our programs and feel more prepared for careers in consulting,” Chand says. “We are in the process of developing an extensive network of alumni from our club.”
This fall — traditionally the busiest time for recruiting — the HGCC has held workshops on how to practice cases and prepare for interviews, as well as regular meetings of its Business Journal Club and Business Knowledge Development Seminar Series. The organization also includes a Volunteer Consulting Group, which provides pro-bono consulting to real-world clients. And it collaborates with the Office of Career Services on its popular Nanocase program, which allows GSAS students to work on a simulated case in a team environment, learning to conduct interviews with clients and to synthesize vital information necessary to solving a case.
Story credit: Jennifer Doody