Any value to a summer internship before starting a PhD program?

phdwondering's picture
Rank: Chimp | 10

As the title says, I'm heading to a microbiology PhD program fall 2018 (got accepted and then deferred one year), and I'm currently talking with several life science consulting boutiques about the possibility of doing a summer internship after I graduate but before my PhD program starts. So far I've gotten pretty mixed responses...some of those I've talked with are receptive to the idea, and some are confused as to why I'm not just recruiting for a full-time position. By the way, these are firms like QuintilesIMS/Putnam/ClearView, if that matters at all.

Given my background, which consists of bench research and 2 business development internships at mid-size pharmas, I think I have a good shot a getting into consulting post-PhD, especially if I get a couple more experiences under my belt over the next few years (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

So again, is there any benefit to me doing a summer consulting internship if I'm not looking for a full-time offer?

Comments (24)

Nov 14, 2017

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Jun 21, 2017

The time frame for the internship should fit between when I graduate, in April, and when my program starts, in August.

Nov 14, 2017

For sure, I met a couple phds this summer at the bb I was at. They got on some pretty interesting teams and got some cool work as well :)

Jun 21, 2017

I have a PhD and am a consultant.

If you know you want to be a consultant, doing a PhD is a terrible idea. There are faster and easier ways to accomplish the goal. Only do a PhD if you are passionate about doing a PhD and the idea of potentially having a career as a scientist.

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Jun 21, 2017

I agree with you that a PhD just to get into consulting is probably a waste of time, and you can get plenty of good exit opps into industry with just an undergrad and maybe an MBA, but wouldn't having an advanced degree (PhD/MD) be the best way to track towards Life Science VC/PE/HF?

Jun 21, 2017

If VC/PE/HF is the goal just go with Bain or McKinsey if you can, or otherwise BCG. Any other company makes it incredibly difficult.

If you want to strengthen your profile next to consultancy: VC wants evidence of successful entrepreneurial experience, PE wants evidence of deal experience and hard modeling skills; for HF you would be better off doing mathematics or any other highly quantitative field for most shops.

Jun 22, 2017

I might be able to help, but I'm not sure what answer you're looking for. What do you mean when you say "benefit"? Benefit to your PhD studies? Benefit to returning to consulting post-school? Benefit to your overall career progression?

Jul 5, 2017

I'm currently a consultant at a European boutique consulting firm. I'm looking at strategic management PhD in the States in the future. In my opinion, a PhD is a better choice if you're a conceptual thinker. It probably won't add much to my skill set, but if you're into more of an unorthodox consulting, especially high level strategy, it is definitely a great badge of honor that, if properly leveraged, can yield excellent results.

Be warned, this is a high risk - high reward path. If you want a predictable career trajectory and you are risk averse, don't go for PhD. I got where I am following this type of path, but I would definitely not recommend to most people.

Jul 5, 2017
Stefan-Maric:

I'm currently a consultant at a European boutique consulting firm. I'm looking at strategic management PhD in the States in the future. In my opinion, a PhD is a better choice if you're a conceptual thinker. It probably won't add much to my skill set, but if you're into more of an unorthodox consulting, especially high level strategy, it is definitely a great badge of honor that, if properly leveraged, can yield excellent results.

Be warned, this is a high risk - high reward path. If you want a predictable career trajectory and you are risk averse, don't go for PhD. I got where I am following this type of path, but I would definitely not recommend to most people.

What a classic WSO post. "I don't actually have a PhD, but I got where I am by following this high risk high reward path."

I have a PhD, I work on high level strategy topics, and trust me no one considers it a badge of honor. No one cares.

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Jul 7, 2017
devildog2067:
Stefan-Maric:

I'm currently a consultant at a European boutique consulting firm. I'm looking at strategic management PhD in the States in the future. In my opinion, a PhD is a better choice if you're a conceptual thinker. It probably won't add much to my skill set, but if you're into more of an unorthodox consulting, especially high level strategy, it is definitely a great badge of honor that, if properly leveraged, can yield excellent results.

Be warned, this is a high risk - high reward path. If you want a predictable career trajectory and you are risk averse, don't go for PhD. I got where I am following this type of path, but I would definitely not recommend to most people.

What a classic WSO post. "I don't actually have a PhD, but I got where I am by following this high risk high reward path."

I have a PhD, I work on high level strategy topics, and trust me no one considers it a badge of honor. No one cares.

Industries I work with and industries you work with many be different. Countries are very different. PHD you have and the one I am targeting may be different and will probably be from different schools. And again, my career pathway may be vastly different than yours.

I live in an environment where PHDs are highly valued. It might not be the case with you. There is no one size to fit them all.

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Best Response
Jul 7, 2017
Lagspike:

Industries I work with and industries you work with many be different. Countries are very different. PHD you have and the one I am targeting may be different and will probably be from different schools. And again, my career pathway may be vastly different than yours.

I live in an environment where PHDs are highly valued. It might not be the case with you. There is no one size to fit them all.

You said that you wanted to get your PhD in the States. My comments are valid for the degree you are after. A PhD in strategy (or strategic management or strategy and innovation or whatever) does not, in any way, convey that you are a deeper conceptual thinker than your peers with MBAs or anything of the sort. That's a degree that someone who wants to do academic research in the field goes after.

You can ignore my comments all you like, it's your life, but your position doesn't make any sense. You start out with:

Lagspike:

In my opinion, a PhD is a better choice if you're a conceptual thinker

which is flat out wrong, and you literally acknowledge that in your next sentence

It probably won't add much to my skill set

then you say

if you're into more of an unorthodox consulting, especially high level strategy, it is definitely a great badge of honor

I work at an MBB firm, doing high level strategy. I have a PhD in particle physics. It's a topic of interest for 10 seconds when I meet people and then everyone forgets. It is in no way a badge of honor. This has been true in the US, across Europe, and in Asia. I've never worked in Russia so I suppose maybe there's a niche market I don't know much about and PhDs in strategic management from US state schools are highly valued there, but I doubt it.

I'll also add that every time I've seen someone come into MBB with a PhD in strategy they've not been successful -- I'm sure there are exceptions but the 4-5 folks I can think of off the top of my head all left before their first promotion. The majority of PhDs that do well are scientists or humanists in fields unrelated to business.

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Jul 5, 2017

In India, you can appear in internship in IISC Bangalore, JNU Delhi, NII Delhi, RCB Gurgaon. Most of these institutes also have Ph.D Programmmes through IIT JAM

You won't always be the strongest or the fastest. But you can be the toughest.

Jul 5, 2017

As someone who does not have a consulting job yet but is finishing their PhD, I've lost years worth of hard work, self-esteem, and stress management getting this degree that will probably be more of a gimmick than actually helpful.

I will say, my PhD school is a target school but my undergraduate was not. My PhD school was able to give me the "prestige" and "caliber" that I was unable to get in my undergrad. I would have never gotten looked at by MBBs if I had gone straight from my unknown undergraduate into consulting.

That being said, was it worth it? I don't have a job offer right now so I can't tell you. But man, this PhD nonsense was/is hard. I'd recommend thinking long and hard before going through a PhD if what you want to do is consulting. You might be better off with an MBA (even if you'll have higher debt)

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Jul 13, 2017
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