Reasons to Work as a Consultant

There’s tons of perks to working in consulting that nearly everybody knows of through talking with friends who work in the consulting (or, also possibly, from watching the tv show Up in the Air): such as traveling perks (plus points), the excellent pay, and the cool suits.

However there’s also a bunch of lesser-known perks to work as a consultant—that could provide more value to you life than good pay. If you are on the fence about this industry, then here’s five potentially nicer reasons to pursue or continue to work in consulting.

1. You Jump Ahead of the Line for C-Suite

Many employees spend their entire career trying to climb the corporate ladder and start tackling issues that span the entire company. There’s a couple of interesting opportunities or job roles in which you get to skip years of carrying out daily tasks and jump right into working on and finding solutions to these problems.

You might not hold the title of CEO (yet!), however consulting offers a unique chance to leverage your strategy skills and gain exposure to this method of thinking. Whether you remain in consulting or leave, knowing why senior leaders stay up with restless nights—and knowing you have the power to help them tackle these issues—is a big reason to pursue consulting.

2. You Have the Opportunity to Try Lots of Projects

I constantly hear about this benefit from new consulting hires who freshly graduated. A lot of times when students just graduate they don’t know what they want to do, or occasionally they don’t want to pick, which career or industry they want to join.

As a result of frequently changing and varied projects, working as a consultant enables people to rapidly test how they feel about different functional areas, industries, and even geographies to see whether they prefer one more than others. Even if you’re certain that you like a specific industry, consulting offers you the opportunity to experience different cultures that companies within the same industry. You can meet people from those companies. This could be a big step towards choosing somewhere and being successful with the next professional move that you make. There’s so many areas of practice and niches that each person seems to find a place that’s the perfect fit for them.

3. There’s Almost an Instant Network at Your Fingertips

Becoming part of a consulting firm is one of the most effective and fastest ways to develop a huge, valuable network. On one hand, you work with multiple stakeholders and clients by doing different projects. This allows you the opportunity to develop relationships over multiple organizations (with typically rather senior individuals). This work experience can yield potential offers of jobs and other types of consulting engagements. You could even develop mentorships through this work experience.

Consulting also offers you the opportunity to work with people who share a lot of the same characteristics as you (it’s like a big get-together of A-type personalities). As past colleagues switch to other career paths (consulting exit strategies), you gain a special bond which continues for many years (remember when we did a project and you worked a ton of hours in a tiny boardroom?). The huge network you develop will probably span over many companies, cities, and levels of seniority—and is one of the biggest reasons to be a consultant.

4. Quickly Developing Expertise

While you’re a consultant, there is no parallel to the training and speed through which you acquire knowledge and expertise. Sure, there’s tons of programs with formal training that you can make use of that should not to be minimized, but you also have the opportunity to learn on the job. Since projects are done at a quick pace and you’re usually working on teams, you learn quickly through more experienced team members and also quickly become an expert in a lot of fields. I feel as though I’ve acquired mastery in a huge array of areas. For example, you might find yourself making organization-wide KPIs, developing interviews with stakeholders to assess the possible savings that a business can achieve in supply chain contracts in only a couple of years.

Consultants must keep themselves ahead of trends in industries, so not only do you need to study macro-level trends in an industry or impacting your client, but you also must challenge and talk about such trends with those with whom you work.

5. You Will Gain More Growth Opportunities

There is a hierarchy in consulting, but there also is a big undercurrents of opportunities based on merit. If you do phenomenal work, then you shall be rewarded for it. Unlike in a lot of other job, you aren’t required to wait for your boss to leave in order to move up the ladder.

There are also “stretch” roles that you can ask for in which you build your skills beyond your current level. I have witnessed very junior coworkers become “go-to” resources at consulting firms. Through this, they have earned a seat at the table (with partners) based on capabilities, confidence, and credibility that they possess.

Yes, there are downsides to consulting, but there’s tons of opportunities to grow, learn, and advance professionally.

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