With the global management consulting services market set to increase from $819.79 billion in 2020 to $895.46 billion in 2021, there’s no doubt about it: consultants are in demand. Consultants are hired to provide advice to a group of people (typically a business) facing issues in need of expertise and solutions. While consulting can be a rewarding profession with constant learning opportunities, it’s crucial to understand that it’s not for everyone and that it comes with both pros and cons. If you’re considering pursuing a career in consulting, take a look at five of the most important things to know before getting started.
1. Self-starters Go Far in Consulting
Consultants are the kinds of people that take an active role in how their career progresses. Simply put, you get what you put in. Moving up the role ladder does not happen without hard work and owning your career. Promotions come through hard work and initiative. This can be seen through raising your hand to be involved in more projects and working on those multifaceted ones that would expose you to different teams, industries, and cases. These are opportunities that require dedication and a go-getter attitude; the bare minimum is not enough. With enough searching, most problems have a solution. If you have a question and have exhausted all of your resources, however, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
The timeline of moving up the ladder of consulting roles looks different for everybody. Owning your career is an important part of the journey, and carves your future path within the job. You might take two years to get from an associate position to a senior associate position or you may take one, but this depends on how willing you are to give up instant rewards in your career, like fun projects, and work hard day-by-day.
2. You’re Going to (Need to) Learn a Lot of Problem Solving Skills
Consulting is the formal way of saying “business problem-solving”. Each business case is unique, and each problem requires a unique solution. As a consultant, you will constantly be encountering new problems. Generating entirely new solutions to each new problem would be a massive headache and a huge time-sink. Rather than starting from scratch each time, consultants, like carpenters, have a handy toolbelt of general problem-solving tools called a “framework” to utilize in daily problem-solving activities.
These frameworks enable consultants to quickly jump into new industries and new problems without getting lost. They allow consultants to take on new challenges with tried and true processes to get to the heart of the problem. Whether it’s a go-to-market strategy for a startup, identifying opportunities to increase profit, or strategizing how to scale a company, if the problem is common, it likely already has a solution framework. A career in consulting requires both an ongoing desire to learn new ways of solving problems and an aptitude to apply those problem-solving abilities to new industries and contexts. It isn’t easy, but it’s one heck of an adventure.
3. Stress Management is Crucial
Consultants often find themselves handling difficult business problems. After all, consultants are hired to solve issues that companies find unsolvable without outside, specialized help. Dealing with time-sensitive problems, working long hours, frequent work-related traveling, and simmering in a highly competitive workplace all lead to stress in consulting. Thus, it is essential to expect stress and know how to safely manage it.
One of the first steps to managing stress is understanding and respecting your personal limits. Personality plays a huge factor when facing stress, and some people are able to deal with it better than others. It is crucial to be aware of your own capabilities so that you know when to excel and when to ask for help (there’s no shame in it!). Another way to handle stress is communication. Be sure to stay on the same page as your clients and your teammates. Stress can easily bubble up and spill over when information, expectations, and needs are not properly communicated. Finally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle also helps! It can be challenging to achieve a work-life balance while working as a consultant, and the devil is in the details. Eating a balanced diet, regularly exercising, and setting time aside for yourself will help you go a long way when managing stress as a consultant.
4. Expansion of Industry Knowledge
Consulting allows you to explore a wide variety of disciplines with either a more specialized or general approach. Working across industries, you will gather knowledge and strengthen your expertise. As a consultant, there are numerous opportunities to gain exposure to different team dynamics, company cultures, and analyst skill sets. The scope of your work is unrestricted, allowing you to transition between multiple industries. In this way, not only will you be engaged in multi-industry experiences but attain transferable skills that can be applied across all fields of your work.
The horizon of your knowledge expands with your willingness and efforts to learn. Because people will depend on you for industry expertise, your research is a critical factor in the success of your deliverables. Therefore, as you pick up new cases, you will inevitably learn aspects of the industry to drive both your qualitative and quantitative analysis. The multi-faceted nature of the consulting world drives curiosity, backed by an everlasting quest for knowledge. Consulting’s application in multiple contexts requires you to attain at least a general understanding of various industries, thereby enhancing your expertise in all due diligence.
5. Consulting is Broad
Consulting is more broad than most people realize. Businesses can seek assistance for a wide variety of areas, from management to IT to marketing. A financial consultant may analyze a firm’s finances and offer solutions on how to improve asset management or increase shareholder value. A software consultant may assist with a company’s app or website development. A strategy consultant can advise on major long-term decisions like mergers and acquisitions.
Depending on the consulting firm and client, consultants may be well-versed in multiple skills and may not restrict themselves to a specific field. Business consultants often use a range of knowledge and skillsets to find solutions for firms. At the same time, companies may hire consultants considered experts in niche areas to assist with specific issues. For example, a healthcare consultant may be brought in by a pharmaceutical firm to determine whether or not to invest in the development of a new drug. With the correct mindset and drive, consulting can be for anyone regardless of college major or area of expertise—there is something for everyone.
While consulting is an incredible field, it’s not for everyone. Before you pursue a career in a consulting-related field, it’s worthwhile to try it out in a risk-free environment. TAMID offers a wide array of consulting opportunities to gain hands-on, professional experience partnering with Israeli start-ups. You’ll have the chance to work closely with fellow TAMID consultants to take on real business problems and address client concerns in various fields, from technology to finance to marketing. You can even gain leadership experience by stepping up as a project manager, coordinating your team’s efforts, and acting as the main client liaison. Collaborating with peers and start-ups on TAMID consulting projects is a fun, social way to explore myriad consulting paths and find what is best for you.
TAMID has two recruitment seasons, one in September and the latter in January. Both seasons are jam-packed with networking opportunities, professional panels, and fun social events. All years and majors are welcome to learn more about TAMID and meet the community! Joining TAMID can help you realize your true professional passions and set the foundation for your future consulting career. We can’t wait to see you at recruitment!