** The Associate position is a full-time position. All majors / concentrations are encouraged to apply. **
Introduction to Sterling and the Associate Role
Sterling Associates is a rapidly growing boutique consulting / market research firm that develops custom business intelligence for private equity firms, corporations, and other investor groups.
We support a national roster of clients, helping them identify, prioritize, and answer key questions—questions that underpin their most important business decisions, including whether and how aggressively to pursue a potential acquisition, strategy development, new market entry, and other initiatives. We design and execute research projects to test client hypotheses and guide decision-making. Each project is tailored to address our client’s specific needs and situation, which means that no two projects are exactly alike.
Associates are at the center of the work we do and are involved in every stage of our projects—meaning that Associates have the opportunity to make significant contributions throughout the course of projects and to the firm more broadly.
Associates take on a range of critical responsibilities, which evolve throughout the project cycle:
- Helping develop project strategies
- Managing project logistics and coordinating the project team’s efforts
- Gathering insight via primary and secondary research streams
- Analyzing quantitative and qualitative data sets to distill key themes
- Structuring and executing summary reports
- Contributing to ongoing client conversations
1) Learn Directly from Senior Staff
Starting with their first project, our Associates work closely with experienced, senior staff members who are invested in their professional development. We assign Associates to teams on a project-by-project basis, which means that our Associates have the opportunity to learn from all of our Partners, Directors, and Project Leaders. We also pair Associates with senior staff as part of our mentorship program, which helps ensure that each Associate receives the right mix of experiences to meet their professional goals.
2) Develop Knowledge in a Wide Range of Industries
We are a generalist firm, so no industry is “off limits” at Sterling—completed projects have spanned industries including cybersecurity, SaaS solutions, industrial goods, consumer packaged goods, education and healthcare technologies, residential and commercial services, etc. Our typical project lasts 2-6 weeks, and Associates often work on more than one project at a time. Accordingly, it’s not unusual for an Associate to contribute to 20+ projects in a single year—likely more than their peers at other consulting firms.
3) Gain Exposure to Private Equity / Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions
Our clients include some of the largest middle-market private equity firms in the country and a number of active, large-scale corporate acquirers. Our work directly supports their (often fast-moving) transactions and may be the difference in their go / no-go decision. Associates have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing dialogue and output that drives these processes.
4) Contribute in a Collaborative, Entrepreneurial Environment
Sterling fosters a collegial environment in which everyone—new hires included—is encouraged to think critically and creatively about the firm’s processes and approach. We value team members who are hardworking and intellectually curious, and we are always looking for new ideas that can invigorate our work and make us better.
5) Define Your Own Path and Help Shape Our Company
Sterling Associates is a meritocracy. We encourage our Associates to take initiative and drive their own development, taking on new responsibilities as soon as they are ready. Associates often get involved with existing internal initiatives (like business development, recruiting, training, etc.) or have the opportunity to develop new ones, allowing them to take on significant responsibility and have a meaningful impact on the firm beyond their project work.
6) Build Foundational Skills that Will Set You Up for Future Career Success—at Sterling and Beyond
The Associate role is a two-year position, during which Associates progressively earn more responsibility as they master key skills. High-performing Associates will advance to the Senior Associate role (likely in their third year) and can expect to start taking on leadership responsibilities within project teams—an opportunity that is unlikely to be matched at other consulting firms. Exceptional Associates will have opportunities to take on additional responsibilities and build the skills required to progress into the Project Leader role.
Most Associates have chosen to continue their career at Sterling beyond the initial two-year commitment—this is a testament to the opportunities that Sterling provides as well as the positive office culture. For those looking to explore opportunities beyond Sterling, the skills Associates develop can provide a foundation for myriad career paths:
- Develop skills in project management, data collection, data analysis (qualitative and quantitative) and synthesis, report writing, and client communications
- Hone time management skills and prioritization instincts
- Learn to manage others, including peers, and develop strong teamwork strategies
- Gain exposure to a wide range of industries
Associates who have left Sterling have gone on to work at a variety of firms—including a wealth management firm, a venture capital firm, a global software company (working in a competitive intelligence role), an executive search firm, a successful start-up (that they helped found), etc. Others have opted to pursue graduate school, going to business school or law school.
We are looking for applicants who meet the following qualifications:
- Highly self-motivated and self-directed
- Effective time management and organizational skills: will be comfortable working across concurrent projects with demanding timelines
- Exceptional critical thinking skills and comfort analyzing a variety of data—qualitative and quantitative, structured and unstructured
- Attention to detail and keen judgment: can determine which findings are important (and which aren’t)
- Proficient oral and written communications skills: able to communicate effectively and develop coherent, accurate narratives
- Excellent interpersonal skills, including collaborating well in a team environment
- Proficiency with Excel and PowerPoint is preferred, but we will work with promising candidates to develop foundational skills
- Minimum GPA = 3.4—all majors / concentrations are encouraged to apply
- Must be a US citizen or have authorization to work in the US. Sterling Associates is unable to sponsor international applicants in need of work authorization.
Sterling Associates is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
- Cleveland has a very reasonable cost of living, meaning that Associates can comfortably afford to live in an apartment downtown and enjoy what the city has to offer (more details on that below).
- Cleveland is home to world-class cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra / Severance Hall, and the Museum of Contemporary Art—all of which are located in University Circle, which was recently voted the Best Arts District in the U.S. in the 2021 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contest.
- Cleveland is also home to Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center in the US outside of New York.
- All three of Cleveland’s major league sports have arenas downtown (the Cavaliers, the Indians, and the Browns, not to mention minor league hockey and football teams).
- Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River support a variety of watersports (sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, etc.), and the area has 23,000 acres of parks and nature preserves.
- Cleveland’s food scene is diverse and thriving, and the area is also home to a burgeoning brewery scene.
$72,500 annual salary, plus up to $12,500 annual performance bonus and a one-time $2,500 signing bonus
To apply, you must submit your full application on the Sterling Associates website: http://www.sterlingassociates.com/online-application-form
Note to all candidates: We welcome all applicants that meet the qualifications listed above and do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity / expression, disability, or any other basis covered by appropriate law. However, we are unfortunately unable to sponsor candidates in need of local work authorization.