Consulting for PhDs and Postdocs: The Basics

If you are a PhD student or postdoc considering your career options, perhaps you’ve heard someone suggest that “consulting” might be a good fit for you. But what is this “consulting” thing, anyway? And how can an advanced degree candidate or holder like you begin to explore this field?

Here are some resources that can help you understand what consulting is and whether it could be right for you.

Career Services’ Guide to Consulting for PhDs and PostDocs

This guide provides a general introduction to consulting as a career and offers links to a number of resources for doctoral students and postdocs who might want to launch their career in the field. Remember: “Consulting” can refer to a wide variety of services, in a variety of industries, for a variety of clients.  Use this resource to investigate the kind of consulting that might be your best fit.

QuakerNet and LinkedIn 

These networking resources allow you to locate Penn alumni who work in consulting, so that you can ask them questions about their experiences in field and learn more about what opportunities are available. You can also search for specific firms that interest you, and then connect with Penn alumni who work (or have worked) with those firms.

Penn Graduate Consulting Group

The purpose of this group is to serve the members of the Penn graduate and post-doctoral community who share a common interest in learning about careers in management consulting. The group hosts events such as workshops, interview prep, and an annual case competition.

PBG Healthcare Consulting (formerly Penn Biotech Group)

Of interest to those who want to gain “hands-on” experience in the healthcare consulting sector, the Penn Biotech Group is a cross-disciplinary, student-run organization focused on addressing the challenges and obstacles facing the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries today.

Information Sessions on Campus by Consulting Companies

During much of the early fall and early spring, employers present “information sessions” on campus.  If you are signed up for our email listservs or PennLink, you will receive information regarding weekly presentations through On Campus Recruiting (OCR). While OCR is only available to current students and very recent graduates, the information sessions are open to all students and postdocs served by Career Services (unless otherwise specified).


This online resource (accessed via Career Services’ subscription) lets you practice questions related to consulting using your webcam.

More Questions?

Career Services Advisors are happy to discuss your career options and plans at any stage of the process. Schedule an appointment by calling 215-898-7530, or attend our weekly walk-in hours.

Author: Andrew Karas

Andrew Karas is a Career Adviser working with graduate students and post-docs.