Walker Sands Study: What College Students Really Think About Consulting Careers

At Walker Sands, our professional services practice area works with clients in the management and technology consulting space on a daily basis. Suffice it to say, we have a direct window into the what these businesses do, how they’re structured and what motivates their employees.



An understanding of how consulting firms operate isn’t only a necessary quality for the PR agencies they work with – it’s also a prerequisite for potential new recruits. With consulting industry employment projected to swell 26 percent between 2014 and 2024, firms need to start establishing a pipeline of interested, knowledgeable candidates.

But as our latest research illustrates, this might be easier said than done.

Walker Sands recently surveyed 500 college students across the U.S. to gauge how the next generation of the workforce perceives consulting firms and the careers they offer, and how they find out about job opportunities in the industry. Surprisingly, we discovered that four in 10 college students don’t fully understand what consulting firms do.

The new study, Where They’re Going, They Don’t Want Roadmaps: Gauging College Students’ Perceptions of Consulting Careers, highlights a handful of findings that suggest a troubling awareness gap between students and consulting firms, such as:

  • 56% of college students don’t know if consulting firms recruit at their school
  • 60% of students would rather work for a startup than a consulting firm after graduation
  • Only 9% of students have applied to intern or work for a consulting firm

Download the study and watch the video to learn more about how college students perceive the consulting industry, and what the implications are for employers.

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Team Spotlight: John Fairley

Ready for another team spotlight?

The digital ecosystem is Walker Sands’ integrated approach that combines both PR efforts and digital marketing tactics. To ensure our clients get a full-service agency, Walker Sands’ executives work closely together to guide their teams through successful 360-degree campaigns.

As a key part of this equation, John Fairley, VP of digital services and partner at Walker Sands, leads the digital team. John’s team is in charge of digital strategies, including website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC), social media, content marketing solutions and more.john-fairley

I sat down with John to discuss his experiences managing the intersection of PR and digital services. Here’s what he had to say!

1. What is your role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like?

My role is to make sure that anything that touches digital runs smoothly and aligns with our clients’ businesses. Day-to-day, this could be anything from a one-on-one meeting with members of the staff to strategy meetings for our clients. I make sure that our prospects’ needs match up well with a solution we offer.

When our projects are complete, I run the postmortems (retrospectives), which are where we discuss lessons learned. Every quarter, we check in to see how the lessons learned are being applied.

2. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?

I’ve been here nine years, so a lot has changed. I became an employee when Walker Sands was only about 10 people, so we didn’t have as many of the formal processes that we have today. We may not have had an HR department, but at this early stage we did have an internship program!

I think the fact that we have both digital and PR (and that they’re integrated) is a big leap from where we were nine years ago. Today, we can have a PR program that builds SEO value for a client, while we drive leads through LinkedIn advertising and nurture leads via email using marketing automation.

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What Do Reporters Really Want? We’ve Made It Our Mission to Find Out

In the world of public relations, one thing is always true — media relations is just part of the equation. A pitch may be perfect and the topic newsworthy, but getting coverage is quite the up-hill battle without support from reporters.

At Walker Sands, we pride ourselves on strong reporter relationships. However, there’s always more we can learn about what makes a pitch resonate or what reporters are looking for when it comes to engaging stories. To keep a steady pulse on the ever-changing world of journalism, over the past few months we’ve had the opportunity to host a number of Chicago reporters in our office!

First, Mark Lazerus, Blackhawks beat writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, joined us. Then, Danny Smith, author and freelance journalist for publications like Runner’s World, Huffington Post and Vows Magazine, stopped by. Most recently, Roy Santoro, executive producer at FOX Chicago, and Adina Klein, segment producer of Good Day Chicago, paid us a much-welcomed visit.


(Mike Santoro [left], president of Walker Sands, sits down with Roy Santoro [middle] and Klein [right] to talk about a day in the life at FOX Chicago)

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Friday Five: 8/22 – 8/26


Happy Friday! Read up on some tech news before settling into the week.

IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are FoundThe New York Times

NSO Group, an Israeli spy supplier, tried to capitalize on three security vulnerabilities in the latest iOS iPhone update. With the software, an iPhone’s messages and emails can be read and calls and contacts can be tracked. Apple moved swiftly after receiving a tip about the weaknesses and released the updated iOS 9.3.5, urging users to download the new version ASAP.

New 5G Technology Will Speed Up Mobile Phones, EventuallyFortune

The next generation of mobile tech, appropriately named 5G, is on the horizon. Unfortunately when we say “horizon” we’re talking several years out. Either way, the new age of mobile tech means speeds up to 10 times faster than current ones. Top mobile providers have discussed test results and use cases. Experts predict early struggles such as poor device battery life and unstable connectivity, but that the hiccups will be ironed out by 2025.

Olympic GIF ban flip-flop shows once again that Twitter can’t manage its usersTechCrunch

Twitter has come under fire recently for an inability to manage offensive content on its platform, and inconsistency when it actually tries to do so. Last week, Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones was targeted by trolls. Twitter noted it was reporting the harassing accounts but not before she decided to take a break from the platform. This week, Twitter decided to take on the opposite extreme and shut down a sports reporter’s account for tweeting three Olympic GIFs, an action outlawed by the IOC. It’s since been reinstated thanks to backlash, but Twitter’s mood swings have left many confused.

How Parents Harnessed the Power of Social Media to Challenge EpiPen Prices – 

From 2007 to now, the price of a two-pack of EpiPens has gone from $100 to $600. Parents set out to express their anger on social media with a petition and the hashtag #EpiGate, and they got results. Bernie Sanders chimed in too, and the AAFA met with Mylan, the pharmaceutical company who makes them. Since then, Mylan has taken action by doling out coupons to those who don’t get great health care coverage, but many see that as besides the point.

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Women’s Equality Day 2016: Celebrating Our Female Leaders at Walker Sands

It’s no secret that public relations is a female dominated industry, and here at Walker Sands we like to think we have some of the best women in the business!  While there’s still work to be done in regards to the prevalence of female leaders in PR (and just about every industry), we aim to create a culture of equality and provide our employees – men and women alike – with the resources to succeed and grow.  In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we wanted to take some time to celebrate some of our female leaders and highlight their experience at Walker Sands.

Ellen-HansonEllen Hanson

Ellen is one of our fearless leaders, founders and COO of Walker Sands.  She’s a jack of all trades and keeps our agency running on a daily basis.

How long have you worked at Walker Sands? 15 years

As a woman, what makes your proud to say you work at Walker Sands?

Walker Sands is a place where anyone and everyone can excel by working hard and being a good teammate.  The leadership team is 100% behind moving current employees up the management ladder.

What woman/women in the business world do you admire and why?

I really admire Dominique Jordan Turner, CEO and President of Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit working with Chicago Public School students. From her start in the Peace Corp to her current trip to the White House she has always worked for a better world.  Seeing her make major presentations and working a room of city leaders is a real inspiration.

Erin-JordanErin Jordan

Erin is an account director on our retail tech team, a Loyola Chicago alum and is a great example of what it means to rise through the ranks at Walker Sands — she started as an intern!

How long have you worked at Walker Sands? 4.5 years

As a woman, what makes your proud to say you work at Walker Sands?

Opportunities for leadership and growing/building a practice area. There’s also plenty of opportunity to help others grow in their careers.

Are there any areas in the field of PR where you’d like to see improve for women?

While PR is a women-driven field, the majority of the top positions in organizations, primarily in agencies, are filled by men. There needs to be more examples that we can look up to and learn from, and we are responsible for doing a better job of making sure that happens for the women we’re coaching to become leaders in the future.

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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