This year’s job-recruitment season began even before the first week of classes had ended. As students shopped courses, seniors — wearing black suits and clutching leather-bound, Princeton-branded portfolios — began making the Information Session pilgrimage.

But not every recruiter was looking for seniors. Among the groups hosting info sessions was Prince­ton Analytics Group, a new undergraduate-led consulting club that operates like a volunteer consulting firm. 

The organization’s four case teams, selected after a résumé-drop and interview process, provide market research and develop business strategies for clients that range from multinational companies to other on-campus groups.

“The idea stemmed from realizing that there was a gap between our academic studies and the practical experience a lot of students were looking for — a gap that a student group like Princeton Analytics had the potential to fill,” said Jasmine Chen ’12, the group’s president.

The club, which also holds workshops and a speaker series, helps students develop skills for a career in ­consulting, an industry that attracts undergraduates from almost every department.

A second consulting group offers graduate students — many of whom already have work experience — a way to stay in touch with the professional world.“For me, coming from the working world and going back to school, it was important to keep working or volunteering in some capacity,” said Ellen Dinsmore, a second-year M.P.A. student who co-chairs the Graduate Consulting Group (GCG) in the Woodrow Wilson School. 

The GCG provides pro bono consulting, mostly to nonprofits in the United States and abroad. One of its case teams is working on a project to help launch a nonprofit boarding school in Haiti; another is working with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on a training plan for elevator and escalator maintenance.

Last year Dinsmore and group co-chairwoman Leslie Lai, also a second-year M.P.A. student, drafted a plan to help a small Ethiopian charity grow into an NGO. Like many of the GCG’s clients, the charity, Getesemani, was referred by a friend and fellow master’s student — a colleague from Ethiopia. 

For both groups, networking is key to finding new clients. So is old-school hustle: Princeton Analytics canvassed Nassau Street with fliers.

Once projects are established, students say, both parties can benefit. “It’s win-win in terms of the experience for both students and clients,” Lai said. “In some ways, it’s very much like volunteering — but more trying to look at strategy than, say, serving food at a soup kitchen.”