Meet Emil Eriksson…about students as consultants

… CEO of Lund University’s student consulting company Lunicore, which increased its turnover by 45 per cent last year. As a result, it is now probably the largest student-run consulting company in Scandinavia.

Emil ErikssonWhy should students work as consultants during their studies?

“Because they get the chance to put their theoretical knowledge into practice while they’re still studying, to see their skills come to good use, and also to earn money. It’s also an opportunity to practise presentation techniques, delivering quality, a businesslike approach and a lot of other aspects of working life that are rarely included in university studies. Many also discover new interests and talents that influence their later career choices. For example, we currently have a bioengineering student who has developed a real interest and skills in market analysis after working with economics students.”

So you work in teams?

“Yes, almost always. We appoint students specifically for each job. There are a huge number of talented people to choose from. We might have a computer science student working with a strategic communications student, or students in economics and social sciences who are good at methodology together. Most are from LTH and the School of Economics and Management, but we are trying to expand the range of fields.”

What sort of jobs do the student consultants do?

“It could be a company that plans to launch a new product and wants to see how big the market is in the US. Or a company that wants to grow and needs help with its logistics. Or a municipality that wants to develop a database system to match unemployed people with available jobs. The range is very broad, because we have consultants from 18 different degree programmes.”

Don’t consultancy firms get annoyed that you are taking their jobs?

“No, we hardly do. Because we have such a high staff turnover, and because our staff are doing this as a sideline, we can’t take on the really big jobs. Our turnover is around SEK 5 million, but that corresponds to 100 jobs! In general, I regard Lunicore as a complement to other services, including to degree projects, which are more in-depth but require quite a lot of supervision time from the employers. We take on full responsibility for project management. Of course, the same person might cost five times as much six months later… but on the other hand, then they’re no longer completely green, thanks to us!”

How did you manage to grow so much last year?

“We have doubled the number of staff working on sales. We visit two companies every day. We have also improved our recruitment of skilled consultants, so many satisfied customers come back.”

It sounds like a phenomenon that’s here to stay?

“Yes, I think it is. It’s difficult to get a foot on the career ladder, despite the fact that there are loads of eager, high-achieving students who are longing for experience. There are not that many graduate trainee schemes, which are perhaps the closest equivalent to what we do. There are student consulting companies at almost all major Swedish universities nowadays, and at some universities abroad, although their existence varies according to demand from the market. We are thinking about applying to join a European organisation to learn from student consultants in other countries.”

Text and photo: Kristina Lindgärde