CONSULTING ATTRACTS LARGE NUMBERS OF MBAS FROM TOP SCHOOLS EVERY YEAR
“Never mind the advantage the firm’s network will later confer,” says Guido. “Many of the most sought after jobs in industry state a preference for a background in management consulting. The one thing people consistently underestimate about this job is the network component of it. All firms have staffing coordinators and assigned mentors that support you in getting the developmental opportunities you want, but they only have so much authority. In the end, the project options you will have depend on who wants to work with you.”
What’s more, consulting offers a well-defined career path that eliminates much of the ambiguity in many professions (see below). You start as a business analyst, move up to a consultant, then a job as a $250,000-a-year manager, a $350,000-to $500,000 principal, and ultimately a partner, where the annual compensation is between $500,000 and $1 million or more. So it’s little wonder that consulting firms routinely take the largest single chunk of MBA grads from the highly selective schools year after year.
THE DOWNSIDES: HEAVY TRAVEL, LONG HOURS, UNPREDICTABLE & EXHAUSTING WORK SCHEDULES
The negatives are obvious, too. The travel can be relentless and exhausting. The hours are long, and the typical work schedule unpredictable. There’s a steep learning curve at the top firms where there is an “up or out” culture. Translation: You either advance in the firm or are “invited” to leave it. You also have the distinct possibility of having a new boss on every project.
As Guido’s primer points out, “The downside is that you you almost never have a chance to sit still. As soon as you have established yourself as an Excel whiz, for example, you will then be encouraged to tackle client relationships and human dynamics on your next project. Relying on the same skills that make you a great entry-level consultant will make you a poor project manager; at each level, new skills are required.
“The job constantly challenges and stretches you, and some consultants complain that the unceasing focus on weaknesses can get tiring after a while. Add to that the necessity to impress each new ‘boss’ or project manager you encounter, and a consulting job could definitely take a few years off your life, especially if you do not approach it with the right mind-set and maintain a sense of humility and humor.”
ONE BIG ADVANTAGE TO MBA RECRUITS: A WELL-DEFINED CAREER PATH