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Consulting field proves popular among IT business graduates

A growing number of graduates from the top IT college programs in the country are going into the field of IT consulting. Find out more about what makes these programs stand out.

When we were compiling the research for the TechRepublic Special Report entitled Top 10 U.S. college programs, I noticed that it was mentioned that a number of the graduates from these business schools go on to become IT consultants. Some of the programs even offer specific IT consulting courses.

Here are excerpts from the report that illustrate this point:

  • Meaghan Bouchoux, a 2000 James Madison University grad now working as a manager with Bearing Point, credits the school's IT Consulting course with giving her consulting career an immeasurable head start. "By the time I had graduated, I had gone through an entire systems development life cycle, so nothing was a surprise to me when I entered the consulting world. I had done the hands-on work to create that mock project from the ground up and was a few months ahead of my peers because of that experience," said Bouchoux, who in 2008 was hailed by Consulting Magazine as one of the top 30 consultants under 30.
  • The IT program at Virginia Tech, which currently hosts approximately 270 degree-seeking undergrads, attracts students desiring a technical degree they can apply to the business world. It comes as no surprise then that many of the program's graduates move into consulting firms where a more technical background is often valued alongside business acumen.
  • Many graduates of the Computing and Information Technology track [in Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business] go into consulting or work for software development or implementation companies.

Download the Top 10 U.S. college programs report for more specifics about the schools' programs. Then, post to the discussion to tell us a little about your training to become an IT consultant. Was it primarily on-the-job training, classroom education, or a mix? Or, are you completely self taught?

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

9 comments
biancaluna
biancaluna

NT. FWIW. Let the sleeping consultants lie.

biancaluna
biancaluna

I have real concerns with these sorts of articles but also the courses. A consultant is a trusted advisor, and that means that you need a whole lotta living, working, experience and failures under your belt. SDLC was first year tech training content, really, what do you know when you graduate. Nothing. You haven't got a clue really. So I find the promises that the education industry makes to their students, but also the companies that hire them very dangerous. Real life consulting is about a lot more than SDLC, I expect any 18 year old coder to be able to spell that. Sorry to be rude, but I am trying to prove a point. I ahve seen too many "kids" fall flat on their face and do almost irrepairable damage by having this sort of attitude. We do ourselves and our hard earned experience, our clients and our industry a huge disservice. I find it almost offensive to sit opposite a 22 year old child, they are not my peers, how can I trust what they have to offer and say? Of course consulting is popular among graduates - the majority of those I have hired did NOT want to put in the work and pay their dues. They thought they could pick up the big bucks by sprouting their ignorant opinions. It comes back to what I wrote in another response - we need to clearly and repeatably define what the consultant needs to be able to do. SFIA standards will help with that, but there is nothing better than real life experience. I am almost offended. If I didn't make a good living in picking up the trainwrecks these kids leave behind.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

Took me more than 10 years to start consulting on a part-time basis. Wouldn't have considered myself 'worthy' with any less experience. Must be nice to start at the top instead of having to put in your time. Kind of like a Finnish company who shall remain nameless -- who takes kids straight out of high school or college, puts them through a few Microsoft courses and starts billing them out at $1,000+ per day as 'fully qualified' consultants. Of course it seems part of that company culture -- they also have Russian programmers commute to Finland -- pay them a Russian salary of $2000 per month while billing them out for $500 to $1,000 per day as well.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Though I'll credit my studies in human languages with giving me a unique perspective on computer languages. I got into consulting after putting in 13 years of working for the man in programming and management.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I followed traditional employment for years too. I am curious about the topic because, why would someone hire someone straight out of college? Now, I'm not trying to insinuate anything about the new graduate, but IT is such a huge field that I can't imagine someone right out of college having the skill sets necessary. Some much of IT is hands on... well, am I showing my age? It sure use to be.

Steven.Jones
Steven.Jones

Her direct quote is what really surprised me: ?By the time I had graduated, I had gone through an entire systems development life cycle, so nothing was a surprise to me when I entered the consulting world." After going through one whole SDLC with a MOCK project, nothing was a surprise? Is that because she was wearing blinders or because she wasn't really paying attention when she entered the consulting world? There's a big difference between a surprise and a surprise you can handle - do you think she really knows the difference? I have to agree that so much of IT is "hands-on" because the theory and learning only takes you so far, especially when the systems and mentalities of some of the people you're dealing with (business people and IT folk) are based in the 70's and "that's just how we've always done it" is the standard response after proposing to do things the "right way" (or at least following best practices). I'm still wondering if she had a clue what she was doing or whether she isn't telling the whole truth.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... who went straight from school into consulting. But I think that "consulting" was essentially "looking for a job and getting paid to interview". I guess it depends on what they mean by "consultant". A lot of people who go by the name are really just contracting journeyman coders.

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