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I'm a 4th year computer engineering student from a reputable university in Toronto and i'm curious as to how some of these software consulting positions with the large firms (Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, etc.) accept business grads as well as comp-sci and computer engineers? How does a business grad consult on software without having a background in software? Besides communication skills and other soft skills, what separates me from a business grad for these positions? Thanks.

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the business grad becomes salesperson and business analyst, which does not require programming skills. –  rwong Jan 2 '12 at 6:54
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How is it that you can assume these people have no software backgrounds just because they do not have a software related degree? Degree != background. I know a very successful consultant who has no degree at all. –  Tom Dignan Jan 2 '12 at 8:47

4 Answers 4

...i'm curious as to how some of these software consulting positions with the large firms (Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, etc.) accept business grads as well as comp-sci and computer engineers?

The best way to understand this is to look at the requirements for the jobs in question. In order to develop software for a client you have to first understand the client's business, and a business analyst is often much better suited to that role than is a developer.

Besides communication skills and other soft skills, what separates me from a business grad for these positions?

Simple: you understand software, they understand business.

Clients don't usually approach a consulting firm with a set of detailed requirements in hand. Instead, they have a problem like: "My business is growing at a healthy pace, but the expenses are growing faster because the process I created three years ago doesn't work so well when you just multiply everything by ten. I need your help to reduce my costs and make my production line more scalable." How do you write an app for that? You can't. You need someone with a business background to come in an analyze the current process, develop a plan, and create a set of detailed requirements.

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Eventually i would like to get into the business side of things, so as a starting point would you suggest going after the business analyst roles or gain some experience doing dev work? –  gambit14 Jan 2 '12 at 19:12
    
Are you qualified for a business analyst position? If not, look for something you're suited for and then look for ways to grow into the business stuff. Large employers often have a tuition benefit -- you might be able to take business classes on the company's dime. –  Caleb Jan 2 '12 at 19:36
    
Yep, thats what i was thinking. Thanks for the info. –  gambit14 Jan 2 '12 at 19:56

There is a lot more to software than just the development. Some of it is more business oriented - requirement analysis, ROI modelling, life-cycle management, marketing and communication strategy, budgeting and project/program management, etc, etc. Large firms strive to be "one stop shops" i.e. delivering services covering all aspects of the industry, hence they need a broad spectrum of competences on offer.

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Business consultants are typically hired to analyse the customers business, take requirements and document them well enough for the software guys to understand. They typically don't code.

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Not all employees at those companies will actually write code. They are often more involved in Business Analysis, Sales, Configuration of Existing Packages. For example a lot of the work is around things such as ERP systems etc.

And while I can't speak for all of those companies I know some people who were hired as graduates at IBM, and they received quite extensive in-house training both initially and ongoing.

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