Consulting can be an excellent way to set the stage for success in any future career. Working with leading organizations around the world to tackle complex issues can make you a much more attractive and marketable candidate to other companies. Even if you decide that consulting is not the right path for you in the future, the knowledge and experience you gain will be invaluable. The training and speed of learning in the consulting field are unparalleled. While there are plenty of formal training programs available, you will also learn on the job.
Projects are often fast-paced and you usually work with teams, so you can quickly learn from those with more experience and become an expert in many different fields. I have gained proficiency in areas such as creating key performance indicators for entire organizations, conducting interviews with stakeholders, and assessing potential savings that companies can achieve through supply chain contracts. Customers hire consultants when they have a problem they feel they cannot solve on their own. To be successful in consulting, it is essential to have a strong work ethic and be able to work long hours. You must also stay ahead of trends by reading about macro-trends in the industry or that affect your clients, questioning these trends, and discussing them with others. When so much money is at stake, unhealthy political dynamics can arise within the consulting organization.
I encountered this firsthand when I was in my early twenties and felt I could do more than I was allowed to do at one of the big consulting firms. If you have the social skills to be an effective consultant, enjoy learning, and are interested in different types of businesses and problem solving, consulting could be a great career choice. Consulting has a hierarchy, but it also offers plenty of opportunities based on merit. Joining a consulting firm is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build a large and valuable network. If you're looking for one of these large firms and value rapid advancement, it's important to understand the dynamics involved. Of course, there are drawbacks and risks associated with this career path. My conversation with a young professional considering consulting revolved around understanding what they should know before making this decision.