Is Management Consulting a Good First Job?

Management consulting is a great way to start your career. It provides an excellent foundation for determining whether graduate education is the right next step. But what is a good starting salary for a consultant? Your first 90 days at a management consulting firm are critical in establishing your reputation with colleagues and the company's leadership. They want to make sure you are up to the task and not one of the hiring errors they have to constantly deal with.

Here are some tips to make your first 90 days in a management consulting firm count. During your first 90 days as a consultant, you have a valid reason to organize 30-minute talks with senior people, such as participation managers, directors, and partners. Do it when it's acceptable to do so, as 8 months from now it will be difficult to explain why it took you so long to organize an introductory meeting. You will no longer be a rookie. In many management consulting firms, after 8 months, you will be considered someone who “was present for a while” due to the high turnover rate. Generally, consultants are expected to be in client offices Monday through Thursday and in the consultant's office on Fridays.

In some projects, teams stay in the customer's office even on Fridays. However, Friday is usually the day when it's easier to leave for 2 hours and return to the office for presentation meetings. It can be difficult to do this for the first 1 or 2 months because you're new and have no advantage. But after a few deliveries, once you've earned some respect and credit, you can start scheduling weekly introductory meetings to get your name out there. This type of internal network is important because in management consulting, you need to follow the right types of studies, which are not always easy to find.

To have the right studies, partners must know that you exist, what skills and experiences you bring, and that you are available and interested in the type of work that the colleague focuses on. In addition, staff coordinators may offer partners the ability to choose between a few people at your level, including you. In such cases, it helps if your partner likes you and thinks that having you in the project will make things easier. Dedicating part of your time during your first 90 days to diligently getting to know managers, directors, and partners will go a long way towards positioning yourself on the map. In management consulting, things often move quickly. You may have staff working on a project while you're still in boarding school training and then suddenly find yourself stuck in a client's office from Monday to Friday with strict deadlines.

People will want you on their project team if you're good. You must overinvest during the first few months with the consulting firm to establish a strong reputation. Otherwise, you may be labeled as an average performer or worse - an underperformer and possibly a hiring error. When you leave after 2 years at the consulting firm, you can use some of the credit you've built up over time to ask for time off or skip work on weekends here and there so you can recover. Later on, when you build up some credit within the company, you can begin to influence the projects you have and which people you work with.

However, during your first few months at the firm, don't ask for any special treatment - this could generate negativity around your name. Your first 90 days are the easiest time to create such negativity because most people don't know you yet and few will give you the benefit of the doubt. When interacting with customers and top leaders of the company, copy the approach of successful people on your team but adjust it according to your level. For example, if a partner and customer executive have been friends for a long time and joke around a lot - this type of behavior may not be appropriate for someone who just met this customer executive yesterday. As for promotion prospects - be intentional in communicating with your manager and HR business partner. And most importantly - get a solid reputation in your consulting firm so that you can count on excellent references in the future. So I think there is a misconception that consultants are paid to “do nothing” because they are paid well for working on PowerPoints.

As an Ivy League graduate, you'll likely have an opportunity to interview with senior management consulting firms on campus. People who dedicate time to major consulting firms and then head into corporate life often go on to senior management positions or higher. Now he also has his own consulting firm where he helps people apply for university and assists them with their application process.

Léo Poitevin
Léo Poitevin

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