Student FAQs
Welcome! We encourage you to read through these student FAQs to learn more about the exciting opportunities, projects, people, culture, and development we offer!


Why Exponent


Q: Why choose Exponent?

A: At Exponent we have an open and collaborative culture. Our team members are smart, motivated, interesting people, most of whom hold a Ph.D. We have an environment of continued development and learning. You will learn something new every day. You will have an opportunity to work on a wide range of projects across many products, processes, industries, and clients. Over time, you can pursue the project areas of interest to you, giving you the ability to drive your own career at Exponent.


What Does it Mean to be a Technical Consultant

Q: What does it mean to be a technical consultant?

A: Being a consultant at Exponent means that you will apply engineering and science to solve challenging engineering and scientific problems in the real world. We may be hired to do failure analysis or accident investigation if there has been an accident or a product has failed. We also work directly with companies that make products to assist with engineering and scientific challenges at any point during the product lifecycle from concept, design, development, manufacturing, to once it is in the market. We work on products that you use every day! We also may be hired to perform a health risk assessment or study the environmental effects of a chemical spill or release, or evaluate potential exposures and health effects resulting from use (or misuse) or consumer products or in an occupational or residential setting. We work on many of the current events that you read about at a national or international level.

Q: What will I do?

A: We apply engineering and science of many varieties. We work on some of the most prominent engineering and scientific problems today. We do experimental, computational, and analytical work. We perform on-site inspections. We meet with clients. We encourage you to pursue professional development opportunities such as conferences, publishing, teaching, professional licenses, certifications, and more. 

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Typical Day During First Year


Q: What is a typical day? How will I spend my time?

A: This is a very hands-on technical position. You will continue to apply engineering and science to a range of industries, clients, products, and systems. We do experimental, computational, and analytical work. Time spent on each will vary depending on your skill sets and interests. You may do on-site inspections at clients’ facilities or accident sites. You will meet or speak with clients, initially to set the scope, throughout the project to keep the client up-to-date, and finally to deliver your findings. Our work product may be delivered in the form of a written report, PPTX presentation, or a phone call. You are also encouraged to pursue personal professional development opportunities.

Q: What does the first year look like?


A: You will dive in immediately to be a contributing member of multiple project teams. You will likely work on 50 or more projects in your first year. You will be asked to provide technical support (experimental, computational, or analytical) based on your technical background. Your role will vary from sub-tasks on a few large projects to larger contributions on smaller projects, giving you the opportunity to work with people from a range of disciplines and offices! Your supervisor, project teams, and practice/center team are here to support you. You will be very hands-on with technical work and may have an opportunity to perform on-site inspections and participate in client meetings. You will pursue training and development opportunities relevant to your goals.

Q: Will I get to meet with clients?


A: While this will vary depending on the practice you join, it is likely that you will be participating in client meetings and managing projects directly with clients early in your career.

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Types of Projects

Q: What types of projects will I work on?

A: You will be working on technical, engineering or science projects. Many of our consultants work on 50+ projects per year, including a range of products, systems, industries, applications, and clients. Our clients include industry (from start-ups to Fortune 500), law firms, associations, and individuals. We may be hired to do failure analysis or accident investigation if there has been an accident or a product has failed. We also work directly with companies that make products to assist with engineering and science challenges at any point during the product cycle from concept, design, manufacturing, to once it’s in the market. We also may be hired to perform a health risk assessment or, for example, study the environmental effects of a chemical spill.

Q: Can you share some example projects?

A: You can find project examples by reviewing our Practices & Industries and selecting Explore Experience.

Q: What types of clients will I work with? Who within those clients?


A: Our clients include industry (from start-ups to Fortune 500), law firms, associations, and individuals. You may work with engineers, scientist, business managers, CEO’s, and more.

Q: What is my role on a project?


A: Your role will vary by project and will change and grow over time. If you are recently out of school, you will be asked to provide technical support (experimental, computational, or analytical) leveraging your core technical areas. You will bring your ideas and knowledge to the team. You will participate in client meetings, perform on-site inspections, and assist in creating our work product for the client. Over time, as a Project Manager, you will be responsible for all aspects of a project.

Q: How many projects will I work on per week/month/year?


A: Many of our consultants work on 5 or more projects every week and 50 or more projects every year. Project length and depth will vary, depending on the scope of the project and needs of the client.

Q: How do I get assigned projects?

A: Your supervisor, practice/center, and office teams will provide you with project work. We also encourage you to pursue projects in any area of interest, including all offices, practices, and people. You will likely work on 50 or more projects in your first year, giving you the opportunity to work with people from a range of practices and offices!

Q: Are projects collaborative?


A: Yes! A project team will include all skill sets necessary to solve the problem. You can ask any person in any office and any practice to be a member of your project team. You can also reach out to anyone in the Firm to pursue project work in areas that interest you.

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Development, Training and Mentoring Opportunities

Q: What technical resources are available to me?


A: One of our greatest resources is our consulting staff. Our projects are collaborative, and you can reach out to any of our consulting staff – we have over 700 consultants who are leading experts in over 90 disciplines. We have extensive laboratory capabilities, information resources, and a visual communications team.

Q: What equipment/capabilities do you have in your labs?

A: We have extensive laboratory capabilities in many of our offices. We do experimental, computational, and analytical work in house.

Q: What types of training/mentoring does Exponent offer?


A: We offer a range of training and mentoring. Each person’s path will vary depending on their skill sets, goals, and current project work. We encourage you to pursue relevant professional development opportunities such as conferences, publishing, teaching, professional licenses, certifications, etc. We have both formal and informal mentoring. We offer a formal Group Mentoring Program whose mission is to educate high-potential consultants early in their careers on what they need to do over the next few years to succeed at Exponent and to build lasting relationships across the firm. You will also have an opportunity to work with senior staff on an almost daily basis. We currently have a People Development Initiative within the Firm, including a new Onboarding Program and training for all staff. We have a women’s leadership seminar series and discussion group (POWER), as well as Professional Development Webinar series that are offered throughout the year. Development of our staff is a top priority for our Firm.

Q: Will I be able to continue to publish? Attend conferences? Maintain ties to academia?


A: Yes! We encourage all of these development activities. Many of our consultants actively publish. We are unable to publish all project work though as we cannot share confidential client information. We encourage you to speak at, not just attend, conferences that are relevant for your goals as a consultant.

Q: How are you supporting the development of women and minorities?

A: We have a Firm-wide Women’s Leadership seminar series and discussion group (POWER) that is hosted every month. We offer a formal Group Mentoring Program whose mission is to educate high-potential consultants early in their careers on what they need to do over the next few years to succeed at Exponent and to build lasting relationships across the firm. You are encouraged to pursue relevant professional development opportunities such as conferences, publishing, teaching, professional licenses, certifications, etc. We currently have a People Development Initiative within the Firm, including a new Onboarding program and training for all staff.

Q: Is this a career place?

A: Yes, Exponent is very much a career place. Our goal is to provide the opportunities and resources for you to develop into a senior consultant and leader of our Firm. We are an environment of continuous, lifelong learning. You will have the ability to pursue the project areas of most interest to you and build your expertise in your chosen fields.

Q: Do I need to get a professional license? 

A: You are not required to get a professional license before joining. This is one of many professional development activities that you can pursue while at Exponent. We highly encourage our staff to obtain professional licenses for applicable fields.

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Culture


Q: What is the culture?


A: We have a collaborative culture where practices and offices work together on projects on a daily basis. Our culture is fast-paced, and we are able to quickly assemble teams to work on projects for our clients. Our environment provides continuous learning and values people development. You will be exposed to a wide range of industries, applications, products, and systems through your project work and your fellow Exponent team members. You are also encouraged to pursue relevant professional development opportunities such as conferences, publishing, teaching, professional licenses, certifications, etc.

Q: What are typical hours?

A: We work typical business hours, though we are flexible to meet the needs of our clients. The average hours of consulting staff is approximately 50 hours/week. Consulting allows for some flexibility in your schedule as long as you meet your project goals and deadlines, though it requires flexibility. You may have an occasional project that requires long hours or work on the weekend, but this is not typical.

Q: How is the work/life balance?

A: Each of our consultants manages his/her own schedule. You have flexibility in your schedule as long as you meet your project goals and deadlines. We recognize the importance of our employees having meaning relationships and activities outside of the workplace. Some people choose to work overtime, others do not. Some projects require more overtime than others. This is something you will have the ability to influence over your career at Exponent.


Q: How do you support diversity?


A: We are a very diverse Firm, and diversity at all levels remains a priority for us. We have consultants with educations from schools all over the U.S. and the world. We have a Firm-wide Women’s Leadership seminar series and discussion group (POWER). Exponent participates in a variety of campus activities designed to promote career opportunities for minorities and women. Exponent provides outreach to minority and female-focused student groups at nationwide university campuses to promote job opportunities.

Q: How much travel is expected?

A: There is some travel, but it is typically short trips to meet a client or do an inspection. You will do most of the analysis in your office or lab space. While the amount of travel varies by person, a few days per month is fairly typical.

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Learning to Become a Consultant

Q: How will I learn to be a consultant?


A: We hire many students right out of their Ph.D. or Postdoc programs – this is a great time to join the Firm. We recognize that you do not have consulting experience, and that is okay. You will learn through training, mentoring, examples, and by doing. You will start by contributing your technical skills and be introduced to additional responsibilities as you grow within Exponent. Client interaction typically comes early in your career.

Q: Will I be expected to bring in business? How do I learn to do this?

A: We hire many students right out of graduate school and recognize that many do not have consulting experience. We do not expect you to generate business if you join Exponent right after school or at an entry-level position. This happens organically over time. You will learn through training, mentoring, examples, and by doing. As a result, you will begin to generate project work.

Q: Do I need to have industry experience before becoming a consultant?

A: No, you do not need industry experience to be a successful consultant at Exponent. We hire many Ph.D.’s and Postdocs immediately following their academic careers. This is a great time to join the Firm. We do not seek extremely specific experience in either graduate school or industry because you will work on a wide range of projects once you join the Firm. We look for a strong understanding of the technical fundamentals, problem solving skills, and communication skills. Of course, we do also hire people with industry experience.

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Career Path


Q: What is the career path?

A: Our career path consists of 5 levels of consulting staff.

  • Associate/Engineer/Scientist
  • Senior Associate/Engineer/Scientist
  • Manager or Managing Engineer/Scientist
  • Senior Manager or Senior Managing Engineer/Scientist
  • Principal or Principal Scientist/Engineer
  • We encourage you to read more about our Career Path.

Q: How will I be evaluated?

A: We have an annual Recognition and Rewards System (RRS). During RRS, our employees are rewarded for their technical and business contributions and will also put together a personal development plan for future success and career growth. During your first year, you are expected to do good technical work, meet deadlines, and build relationships internally with consulting staff at Exponent. Over time, you will manage projects and generate project work. We do not expect you to generate project work as an Associate, Scientist, or Engineer.

Q: What are expectations for my first year?

A: You will dive immediately into being a contributing member on multiple project teams. You will be expected to do strong technical work and to build relationships with other Exponent consultants. You will be exposed to client meetings, on-site inspections, and creating our work product. You will be expected to pursue training and professional development opportunities, as it is relevant to your skills and goals.

Q: How quickly can I advance?


A: Our goal is to provide development opportunities for all of our consulting staff to grow into senior consultants. Our consultants’ career paths progress at different rates, and that rate may fluctuate at different times in their lives. Every year you are eligible for raises, bonuses, and promotions through our performance based Recognition and Rewards System (RRS). Exponent is very much a career place, and we hope you will build your consulting career with us.

Q: What are expectations as I grow?

A: Relatively soon you will have opportunities to manage small projects. Once you demonstrate you can manage small projects, you will be given opportunities to manage larger projects. As a Project Manager you are directly in front of the client, and you are responsible for all aspects of that project. Over time, you will grow relationships with these clients and they will see you as an advisor. As you progress in your career, you will be expected to manage clients and bring in project work for yourself and ultimately others.

Q: Are there separate tracks for technical work and management?

A: No. We have one track. We hire consulting engineers and scientists. You will always do technical work as well as manage projects, clients, and people.

Q: How will my responsibilities change over time?

A: You will take on project management, people management, personal professional development, development of others, recruiting, business development, and leadership responsibilities over time.

Q: What is your benefits package?

A: Exponent provides a competitive compensation package, excellent benefits, including company-subsidized medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and a 401(k) Retirement Program, with a 7% company contribution.  Read more about our benefits and compensation.

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Application and Interview Process


Q: What is the best way to apply?

A: The best way to apply is to meet us at one of our campus events. Please be sure to introduce yourself if you have a chance to attend one of our seminars or info sessions on campus, even if you are in the first year of your Ph.D. program. Please also complete an online application.

Q: When should I expect to hear back on my application?

A: We will consider your application for all of our relevant open positions throughout the year and contact you when we have a suitable position for your skill sets.

Q: How early should I apply?

A: We recommend you speak with us as early as possible. The best way to apply is to meet us at one of our campus events. Please be sure to introduce yourself if you have a chance to attend one of our seminars or info sessions on campus. Even if you are in the first year of your Ph.D. program, please say “hello” and let us know that you would like to stay in touch. In terms of the final interview process, this often begins about a year from the time you graduate. We also ask that you please apply online.

Q: Do I need to have a Ph.D. to be considered?

A: Many of our positions require a Ph.D. However, we encourage you to apply and your application will be considered for all of our relevant open positions.

Q: Where does my background fit?

A: We encourage you to review our Practices & Industries to learn more about how your background might best fit. It may also be helpful to review our consulting teams’ professional profiles to learn about the background and current work of our teams.

Q: Can I apply to more than one job opening?

A: Yes, please apply to the positions that align with your technical background and interests.

Q: Do you have hiring cycles or deadlines?

A: No, we do not have any application deadlines. We have a rolling process and hire throughout the year. We encourage you to apply early. It is helpful for us to have your application as early as possible.

Q: What is your interview process?

A: You may have an opportunity to meet us on campus at a seminar or info session. Our interview process typically consists of a few phone interviews, possibly a lunch visit to a local office, and a full-day formal interview. For the formal interview, we fly you out to the office that you are interviewing with. You will have an opportunity to meet or speak with approximately 6 consulting team members as well as a member of HR. We also ask that you deliver a technical presentation (job talk) during the interview. This presentation should include Ph.D.-level technical work as well as high level big picture information about your research.

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How is Technical Consulting Different to Other Career Options



Q: How is engineering and scientific consulting different than management or other consulting?


A: The type of work is different. We work on engineering and science projects, meaning you will be doing engineering and science. This is very much a continuation of what you are already doing. We also work on multiple projects at a time. Many of our consultants work on 50+ projects per year, on a range of products, systems, industries, and applications. There is some travel, but it is typically short trips to meet a client or do an inspection. You will do most of the analysis in your office or lab space. While the amount of travel varies by person, a few days per month is fairly typical.

Q: How is engineering and scientific consulting different than industry?

A: We work with many industries on a wide range of products and systems that you use every day! At Exponent, typically you will not work solely on one project, rather many projects simultaneously. These projects will give you exposure to a wide range of products and industries. You will be continuously learning and working with multidisciplinary teams of Ph.D. consultants. Our project timelines tend to be fast since clients typically need to know as soon as possible how to solve their problems. You will have the freedom to pursue a range of development opportunities. You will have flexibility in your daily schedule.

Q: How is engineering and scientific consulting different than academic positions?

A: At Exponent, we work on very-applied projects and you will often see the immediate impact of your work. Clients typically need to know as soon as possible how to solve their problem, so our project timelines are typically faster than what you see in academia. You will be continuously learning through exposure to a wide range of products and industries. Our project teams are multidisciplinary and often consist of Ph.D. consultants from multiple disciplines. There are also many development opportunities, in addition to publishing, that can help you develop professionally as a technical consultant.


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