Words by Ravini Abey

Landing a graduate job is hard.

Most graduate programs are highly competitive. They receive thousands of applications each year, only to hire a handful. On top of that, even finding a graduate program that complements your skills and interests is challenging.

So how did I manage to land a graduate job at one of the most competitive global consulting firms more than a year before graduating?

Finding my path

Like many millennials, I sought an answer to the big question: what do I want to do with my career?

In the second year of my postgraduate psychology degree, I began to deeply explore what I wanted to do in the future. After much deliberation, numerous personality tests and heated discussions with family and friends, I decided the only way to learn was by doing.

Thinking outside the box

I started looking for volunteering organisations to learn about fields I was interested in. Importantly, I didn’t restrict myself to my faculty or my degree type – I started looking beyond. In particular, I began attending events held by university clubs outside my own faculty.

One particular event that struck me was one held by a club in the Faculty of Business and Economics. I learned about consulting and the work consultants do – solving big problems for clients, often in short periods of time. For example, how do we optimise business processes to generate more revenue? How can we unlock greater customer engagement by transforming digital experiences?

This interesting, real-world application of problem-solving skills immediately sparked my interest.

Exploring the “dream job” through volunteering

I came across a consulting club that was looking for volunteer consultants to work in small groups to find solutions to problems not-for-profits face. At first I thought to myself: “Who am I to even try applying for this? I’m a psychology graduate with zero business knowledge.”

But I analysed my existing skill sets and how they could be advantageous in this area. I researched, I prepared and I applied anyway.

After passing a rigorous selection process (including group and 1:1 interviews similar to actual consulting job interviews), I secured a position with an amazing team. Our goal was to help transform the recruitment process of volunteers for a Melbourne-based not-for-profit.

This 10-week project was eye-opening. It showed me the day-to-day life of a consultant, the kinds of awesome people I would get to work with and the varied impactful work I would get to do for our clients. One of my favourite parts of the program was getting mentored by a consultant in a top consulting firm and learning from the best.

When I completed the project, I knew that consulting was the field for me.

Preparing for the job

After the project I had further discussions with my mentor, connected with more people in the field, did lots of research and got a deeper understanding of how to best position myself for a job in the industry.

Having the volunteer consulting experience definitely stood out in my graduate program application.

Final thoughts

Volunteering and learning by doing are some of the best ways to secure a graduate job in an area that you are passionate about.

I hope my story will inspire you to put yourself out there and chase your dream job, regardless of what you think your limitations might be. It’ll be hard, but it’ll certainly be worth it.