Day in the Life of a Consulting Apprentice | Sheila O’Donohoe

Trainee Management Consultant (Apprentice)


In my hunt for data apprenticeships, I came across a management consultancy role at Arcadis.

At the time I was working as an office administrator and bookkeeper for a small business when I decided I wanted to specialise in data analytics. Data analytics drew me in partly for the fun I had developing Excel skills, and partly for the sense of accomplishment I felt when improving the data filtering process at my office.

I wanted to be part of a larger company that had the provisions and desire to support my growth, so I looked for apprenticeships at a variety of companies: banks, green energy, other small businesses etc. When I found the apprentice role at Arcadis I was immediately interested as I really don’t like inefficiency and wasted potential, and management consulting seemed to be an entire career that dealt with just that but in a variety of projects! So, I took the leap and I’m so grateful I did. I’m learning data analytics (wrangling, visualising, coding) and having a lot of fun while doing it while at the same time applying it to projects that span other industries I’m interested in, such as public transport and energy companies.

I’m sure you’ve repeatedly heard the phrase “no week is ever the same in consulting” but it does ring true. For example, my Mondays change every week, and this will always set the tone for the following days. It could be a quiet day where I have some data to work through or client presentations to develop. Quiet days also mean I have time for career development planning like revisiting my stretch goals and checking in on updates for my internal projects. If it’s a busy day, then I crack on with the work which usually involves incorporating new data into a deliverable and checking the integrity of the data. I usually do this on Excel, and it involves the use of formulas like INDEX(MATCH) and IF statements. Some projects involve Power BI and usually that means I spend time maintaining the tables to ensure the dashboards and other slides work correctly.

My favourite part of the job is whenever we come across an issue that shines a new light on the client’s problem. These new problems give us a greater understanding of the project’s purpose and by extension how the roles we play in it facilitate efficiency and productivity. This comes in many forms and can occur at any stage of the project. Ultimately, if circumstances change on either side, we will then revise our approach or even the project’s plan. Instances like these are the most intellectually stimulating and it invites a closer relationship between the consulting team and the clients as we both work together to solve it. More information from clients also feeds our own industry knowledge and makes us better-rounded consultants.

If you’re considering a career in consulting I presume is because you’re interested in a variety of subjects, and you don’t know which one to pick? That’s where I was, and I’ve found that consulting is perfect for learning about the work involved in a variety of industries. This apprenticeship week why not have a look into the variety of apprenticeship programmes available!