The Student Consultancy

Since its launch, nearly 2,000 students have taken part in the programme, helping over 250 clients.

Students work in small teams over a term to address a strategic issue or business problem for a client organisation in Oxfordshire. Whatever your career plans you can benefit from the programme.

At this time of Covid-19 disruption The Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) is an alternative to our regular team-based client experience programmes: The Student Consultancy (TSC), Researcher Strategy Consultancy (RSC) and The Agency. TOSCA is open to Oxford undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers as well as alumni graduating in 2020. More information on the TOSCA webpage.

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    Students work in small teams over a term to address a strategic issue or business problem for a client organisation in Oxfordshire. Whatever your career plans you can benefit from the programme.

    The Student Consultancy will provide you with an opportunity to:

    • Learn assessment centre skills, regardless of the sector you wish to work
    • Contribute to the local community and gain solid work experience
    • Tackle strategic business issues and concerns
    • Develop key employability skills such as self-management, team working, business and customer awareness, problem solving and communication
    • Provide demonstrable examples of keys skills for your CV or for use in job interviews
    • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments

    After you have been selected to take part after the assessment centre, you will receive intense training sessions during 1st Week to prepare you for your projects. These will cover an introduction to consulting, key business issues, and how to go about solving them, market research, interviewing techniques, making recommendations and reports.

    We will divide students into teams who will each be assigned a client organisation, based on your project preferences where possible, and you’ll then arrange meetings with the client to discuss their project. After this you will spend seven to eight weeks working with your clients, producing a report for the client about your findings. Although you will be liaising direct with your client, the Careers Service will be there to support you with any questions that you may have.

    The programme is open to students from any discipline, and selection is based on:

    • creativity in finding solutions
    • approach to business situations and commercial awareness
    • motivation to support the local community
    • community or volunteer experience
    • teamwork and communication skills

    Past projects

    Past projects involved marketing and promotion ideas, website design, audience analysis and evaluating fundraising initiatives. Clients have come from all areas, including museums and heritage, community projects, retail, IT, start-ups, local theatre, local government, local and international charities, art galleries and many more.

    Using TSC in job applications

    ‘I interviewed for BCG, McKinsey, Bain and Oliver Wyman, and used examples from The Student Consultancy at all of them. (I received offers from all four)’

    ‘I often write about it in job applications, using the programme to highlight examples of working in a mixed discipline team, consultancy, management, knowledge of business, entrepreneurial spirit and so on.’

    ‘Valuable CV and application material – it’s a really worthwhile project and is a commendable achievement. It really taught me how to think in a different way and communicate effectively with all sorts of people.’

     ‘The Student Consultancy was an excellent example/experience to cite when describing community involvement and group work experience.’

    ‘Valuable experience in communication management (effective communication) and team organisation / team work! Very helpful experience to talk about in consecutive job interviews!’

    ‘It’s a very good example to talk about in relation to taking ownership of a project that provides real added value to a business. I brought it up when asked about team work and problem solving.’

    Gaining skills and experience

    ‘The Student Consultancy programme gave me not only an interesting insight into the consultancy sector, but also a comprehensive idea of the intricacies and difficulties of the working world more generally.’

    ‘I learnt key skills on how to lead meetings, and also ways in which to work as a group.’

    ‘The Student Consultancy helped me realise how much I did not know about consulting, team work, and project management, particularly about the challenges and difficulties involved. This is valuable insight that will help me in other projects’

    ‘An appreciation for how a bright spark by a few students can be amplified and transformed to create significant social change in the community.’

    ‘It was very interesting to work on a project that was not related to my degree subject (thinking outside the box) and I learned a lot from the organisation we worked with.’

    ‘The programme gave me insight into previously unknown skills: including managing the balance of a diverse group of characters, and that good communication, clear goals and deadlines are key. It also taught me some valuable business vocabulary, and how to present myself in a way that is  more understandable within the industry.’

    ‘The Student Consultancy gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in strategic consulting, and I came to the conclusion that it would be interesting, dynamic and more satisfying than I ever expected.’

    ‘Real business experience which was completely unique. A chance to step out of the academic world.’

    ‘Commercial awareness, and an experience of the kind of job I could be doing in the future.’ 

    More information coming soon. 

    What is The Student Consultancy?

    A chance for you to gain hands-on project experience. You’ll work in a team on a project that’s important to the client organisation: examples include understanding what their customers value, ideas on increasing sales or how to secure future funding for a charity.

    As part of a project team you will define the workload and how it is shared. Typically, the commitment for participants is around 3 hours per week for project work though  can fluctuate as the project progresses.

    We do not accept applications from students at the Said Business School. Visiting Students or those who have previously participated will be considered on a case-by-case basis subject to demand and spaces available on the programme.

    What will I get out of it?

    An opportunity to explore consultancy as well as real world experience of how our client organisations approach challenges and change. You’ll work on an interesting client project and have a chance to contribute to the local community.

    You’ll learn valuable skills and gain experience that will help you demonstrate your capability and potential to employers. The experience will help boost your transferable skills such as team working, communication and problem solving as well as business awareness.

    Previous participants say they have enjoyed working in their team and meeting others from across the University.

    How does it work?

    Everything is designed to give you a new experience and an opportunity to learn. We run the programme every term with the project work wrapped up in Week 8.

    In Week 0 we select participants for the programme at an Assessment Centre. Successful applicants are then invited to two training sessions in Week 1 when we prepare everyone for the consulting work. Over the two training sessions you will learn invaluable consulting skills such as client interview techniques and report writing.

    We will place you in a project team and the work usually starts in Week 2 when you meet your client: you and your team take it from there and we provide support as things progress.

    What are you looking for at the Assessment Centre?

    At the Assessment Centre there is a group exercise after which you will be asked to make a short presentation on the findings from the group work. Each applicant will present for up to one minute.

    We are looking for transferrable skills and positive behaviours: these include working in a team, problem solving and communication as well as drive and interest. We are looking for participants who are likely to make the most of the programme experience.

     Who might I work with?

    We attract new clients as the reputation of the programme spreads and 90% of our clients come back for more, often several times.

    Previous clients include: Oxwash, IBM, Bongo IT, Modern Art Oxford, Oxfam, Oxford City Council, Oxford University Library Services, Pegasus Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre.

    Does it matter what subject I’m studying or what year I am in?

    No, all are welcome! Our applicants are usually exploring their careers options or wish to try something different. We deliberately mix up people in our project teams for a wider perspective on the client challenge.

     Do I have to be interested in management consultancy? (Or do I need to know what I want to do yet?)

    No, for those interested in consultancy it’s an opportunity to try it out. For others it’s an opportunity to explore their career options.

    You will boost your transferable skills such as team working, communication and problem solving as well as business awareness. This will be helpful across a range of future careers.

    What will it cost me?

    There is no cost to you for taking part. We will reimburse reasonable expenses.

    Further questions

    If you have any queries regarding the programme, please email tsc@careers.ox.ac.uk.

    • Cherwell – an article on TSC’s work with Community Action Groups
    • Oxford Mail – Careers Service director Jonathan Black provides an insight into the programme
    • OU Management Society – a first hand perspective from a student
    • NCUB – a report on The Student Consultancy’s collaboration with Centrica
    • Healthwatch Oxfordshire – an article on a student team’s final report for TSC
    • Live Music Exchange – students’ final report on another project

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