How can I connect with student entrepreneurs

From student management consultant to strategy consultantMaximilian Schalk started his career

Student management consultancy - what is it?

Student management consultancies are associations of committed students who have one thing in common: a passion for advising companies. In addition to studying and working, they set up everything a functioning management consultancy needs in their free time. Starting with the strict application and selection process through clearly defined internal processes to sales, implementation and controlling of consulting projects. The consultations are usually largely independent of your home university and usually consist of 50–100 student advisors.

The work of the student advisors consists of two components:

1. Internal tasks: The entire infrastructure (including training, human resources, IT, finance & law and marketing) lives from the volunteer work of the students involved. This means that each and every individual participates out of conviction, not out of obligation.

2. Customer projects: Project teams are put together depending on the project requirements and then work independently, mostly as freelance service providers, with their customers. The approach to cooperation is at least as varied here as in commercial consultancy. The topics are e.g. market analyzes, employer branding, sales & marketing strategies or business plan creation. In contrast to voluntary work, this work is also remunerated by the customers.

Many companies have long recognized the added value of this concept, which incidentally has been around in Germany for more than 30 years. The student advisors usually offer an excellent price-performance ratio, and they are also flexible, as they do not have to adhere to rigid corporate structures. Some well-known brands such as Siemens, Flixbus and Audi are already using student advisors. But the concept is also exciting for many companies from a recruiting point of view. The committed students already demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit, motivation and conceptual competence during their studies. This is of course particularly interesting for commercial management consultancies, for example large consultancies such as Accenture, Volkswagen Consulting or zeb are among the trustees of the BDSU - Association of German Student Management Consultants.

Companies advise during their studies

During my economics studies, I worked for the Junior Consulting Team in Nuremberg for a total of three years. Since I started in the third semester, my studies have gradually moved into the background. Not because the work as a student management consultant would always have taken an exorbitant amount of time, but because it opened up a multitude of exciting opportunities for learning. Working as a freelancer with different teams for different clients enabled me to gain practical experience that both regular studies and internships can hardly offer. The chance to work directly for and collaborate with the executives of the commissioning company is difficult to find elsewhere.

In addition, project work requires a high degree of professionalism, self-organization and time management. These, too, are competencies that a course of study can only partially convey. Above all, however, the work showed me again and again unadorned where my strengths and weaknesses lie and whether I am even suitable for advising companies.

Freelance student or full-time consultant, what is different?

Of course, since I started my career at Weissman & Cie. deal with significantly larger topics and are higher up with the commissioning companies. Instead of isolated market analyzes or process optimization, the projects now deal with more comprehensive topics such as strategy development and implementation or succession planning. This also goes hand in hand with project volumes that I could only dream of in the past. However, working as a freelance student management consultant prepared me for the essential skills of everyday consultancy. In retrospect, this work laid the complete foundation for my further professional career, or even made it possible in the first place. In my work today, I particularly appreciate the structured framework and the trustworthy and predictable work in a team.