What is Consulting and how do I get involved?
Updated: Mar 27
Have you always been curious about what consulting entails? Whether you are an enthusiastic first year student or a seasoned final year student, consulting is the perfect way to use your problem solving skills and creativity in delivering value to organisations.
At 180DC UNSW, our diverse teams of students work with non-for-profits on meaningful projects to design innovative solutions and hence create a social impact on the wider community.
To give you a deeper insight into consulting and how to get involved, here are some tips from one of our Consulting Directors, Joanna Jude. Joanna has been an active member of 180DC UNSW since 2016 and is a final year Economics and Arts (International Relations) student.
Q: Hi Joanna, please tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: I am currently studying Economics and Arts, with a major in International Relations and a minor in Criminology and am due to finish within the next year. My interests and passions range from policy and practice in development, intersectional feminist theory and keeping up with current affairs, to painting and travelling. I have been with 180DC for nearly three years now, and each project cycle has brought with it its own learnings, challenges (some projects moreso than others!) and of course, an amazing (and increasingly diverse) set of teams that I am so thrilled to be able to collaborate with. I was a Student Consultant for two cycles, then a Project Leader for one cycle and now, I have just commenced my third cycle as a Consulting Director. Each role is very different and I took away from each a different set of skills, but the opportunity to learn something new is always there! In short, it’s been a long ride, but I can’t explain how much it’s really shaped my entire university experience, professionally and personally.
Q: How would you define consulting, in one sentence?
A: Once sentence?! Well…what I was told by a Consulting Director back in my first semester with 180DC (Semester 2, 2016!) is that consulting is essentially ‘professional problem solving’. Whilst this definition is not all-encompassing, I do think it’s a great explanation to get people to dip their toes into the water and realise that it’s not a field that is discriminatory in the types of people that it attracts. If analysing and deconstructing problems, coupled with a genuine desire to identify meaningful solutions (regardless of the problem’s context), is something that you enjoy doing, then consulting may be a great experience for you.
Q: What do you believe consultants can bring to an organisation?
A: It’s the diversity that a consultant is able to bring to 180DC that we look for – whether that’s by demonstrating experiences you’ve had at work, whilst volunteering or creating something, or by affirming a willingness to constantly learn, particularly in conjunction with others. I honestly believe that if not for 180DC, I would not have met such an eclectic array of people, in terms of skills, programs that they’re studying, experiences and even personalities. There are always opportunities to hone existing (hard and soft) skills, particularly through the extensive training that we provide our Student Consultants and Project Leaders. Bring enthusiasm and a collaborative mindset, and a positive outcome will not only be reflected in the output that is delivered, but also in the experiences that you and your team members take away.
Q: What advice do you have for students who want to get involved with consulting, but not sure where to start?
A: There are many student societies out there that offer students the opportunity to garner insight into what consulting really entails, so the best thing you can do is start a conversation, ask several questions (and then a dozen more), and then apply. We open recruitment for our project cycles twice a year, so if the time is not suitable, there’s always another opportunity not too far ahead. Personally, I had heard through friends that were a part of 180DC about the kind of work and experiences they were having and they encouraged me to apply and give it a go. So I did, despite not knowing what consulting really was. However, through continued exposure, asking about one hundred more questions and attending training (and social) events, I was able to come to a better understanding and judgement and ultimately, continue to be involved in the organisation in different capacities. I am so glad I decided to submit that first application, because the opportunities that I’ve since been presented with, and the people that I’ve met definitely exceeded my initial expectations!