Alexander Busch Presents on Consulting

On July 1, 2013 by Grad Forum

busch_consulting_thumbnailOn Friday, June 14, Dr. Alexander Busch, a recent graduate of the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (PEMM), gave a presentation to graduate students about his experience finding a job in consulting. Starting in July, Busch will be joining Putnam Associates, a healthcare consulting firm in Burlington, MA, as a Life Sciences Consultant. At Dartmouth, Busch conducted research on cancer pharmacology in Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky’s laboratory and was a member of the Graduate Consulting Club and one of the founders of the Social IQ Consulting group. Interested in a career beyond lab research, he decided midway through his graduate career to pursue consulting.

In his presentation, Busch gave an overview of what consulting is, highlighted the resources at Dartmouth that can assist students in finding a job, and helped students answer the central question: Is consulting right for me? According to Busch, “Step number one would be to make up your mind that you are willing to be an advice-giver, not a decision-maker, for that is what a consultant does. That is followed by writing a resume, preferably very early during your PhD career.” Both Busch and Kerry Landers, assistant dean of graduate student affairs, mentioned that starting a resume early is important because then students will know where the gaps lie in their experience and can work to fill them.

Busch also advised students to be involved in extracurricular activities to build leadership skills and the ability to work in a team efficiently. Moreover, Busch insisted that people should have a LinkedIn profile and begin networking, especially with people in the Tuck School of Business, who are likely to work in consulting as well.

According to Busch, the annual Dartmouth fall career fair is a great venue to approach consulting companies. Before going to the career fair in the fall, Busch suggested that students plan their visits to different booths and recommended that students go alone, as it is hard to sell oneself in front of friends. “When at the career fair, you have to stand out. Dress professionally (suit and tie), have your resumes printed, have professional business cards ready, ask companies if they are hiring PhD applicants, and most importantly, ask them for their deadlines and tell them when you are graduating.” It is also very helpful to get the contact information of company representatives and thank them by e-mail later the same day.

Busch mentioned that consulting applications are typically submitted during the fall of one’s last year in graduate school. Selected applicants will then be interviewed within weeks for start dates the following summer. The structure of consulting interviews varies, and some include a case that the interviewee will be asked “to solve in a very short time,” explained Busch. It is important for students to practice being lively and engaging by interviewing with other students prior to the actual interview.

Busch suggested some possible questions to ask employers during the interview:

Questions to Ask:

  • Is the company expanding its business?
  • How many people is the company looking to recruit?
  • How is staffing handled?
  • What is the travel schedule?
  • What do you expect from someone in the position?

Questions to Avoid:

  • How much vacation time will I be getting?
  • How much are you going to pay me?
  • Do you do drug testing?

The session was very informative and gave a useful overview of the differences between academia and consulting. To view the slides from Busch’s presentation, visit the Alumni Profiles section of the Graduate Studies site.

by Gilbert Rahme



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