Love the idea of jetting to locations both exotic and banal and getting paid very well for your intellectual capital? A lot of consultants (current and prospective) do, too. Consulting continues to rank among the most popular professions for emerging graduates and those securing MBAs, and for good reason. As one of the best-paid professions for recent graduates, consulting offers lucrative salary packages and the chance to meet elite FTSE 100 or DAX30 managers. Consultants also work on some of the most interesting issues in business today: high-level strategy and integration issues.
But consulting careers are no walk in the park. Pressures are high; travel can be onerous; the interview process can be painful; many firms still have an up or out thinking and the risks of redundancy can be high in a difficult economic climate. Before setting off on the consulting route too enthusiastically, get a sense of how you might like it. Understand where the industry is going, your role in the industry, and how closely it fits with your needs and personality.
If you're reading this in an attempt to decide whether or not consulting is for you, we've got some advice. Do a personal inventory of your skills and talents, as well as your interests or what you merely enjoy. Also, find out about other professionals' experiences both the war stories and the rewards. If your network doesn't include other consultants, use the message boards on Vault's consulting channel or join an industry organisation for leads. And read this guide to see if consulting really interests you. Just remember that positions are limited, and competition ranks among the highest of many industries. Even if you have an INSEAD-MBA or decades of experience, breaking into consulting and having a successful career requires perseverance and the sharpest of networking and persuasion skills. The potential rewards, however, are great.