Monday, December 3, 2012

Consulting: Is it the right career path for you?

In order to begin answering this question, we must first discuss what a consultant's job is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of consulting is: "providing professional or expert advice". This is basically what the job boils down to, giving advice. You must now be wondering, well what kind of advice would companies or governments need? This is where the diversity of the consulting career comes into play, certain companies have certain goals they try achieve; and consultants are hired to help figure out a way to achieve those goals. If you want to see what kind of goals companies are trying to achieve, all it takes is a simple visit to a consulting firm. If you go on Accenture's website, some of the goals they have helped companies achieve range from helping the fashion brand UNIQLO grow by 350% to helping Unilever save a billion euros to helping Marriott get $7 billion worth of online sales. These are some of the accomplishments of just one of the big five consulting companies. Looking at this alone confirms that the possibilities of what you will end up doing as a consultant is limitless.

Long Hours, Lots of Travel, New Offices, New People and New Places; Are you up to the Challenge?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a consultant is the work schedule. Unlike regular employees who work 9-5 jobs, consultants often have to put in longer hours. Furthermore people who like a sense of community will not like consulting as you change companies every few months. Furthermore this means that travelling will become very frequent, and you may change cities every few months. Lastly longer hours are sometimes a part of the job as consultants comes from meeting deadlines, and unlike normal jobs where deadlines can be extended, consultants are paid top dollar so extending projects is a big no for the company. Those who enjoy a fast paced work environment and like travelling will most likely love consulting, especially considering how a lot of companies will pay for your travel expenses. It also is a great job for those who want to work for different companies and hate being stuck in the same job for years on end . I spoke with a College Park student to get him to share his views on consulting and he liked the idea of travelling and changing companies every few months.)

How People Skills Can Help You Land A Job In Consulting

The questions I asked my experts revolved around being able to land a job as a consultant right out of college. Professor Bailey, who is a research associate professor and executive director of Quest says that "very good communication skills" are necessary because "consultants have to move from consulting job to consulting job". However, just having good communication skills is not enough. Professor Basu, an accounting professor at College Park says the two most important skills of a consultant are analytic skills and communication skills. He says that after analyzing the problem one must be able to communicate what the problem is and how to fix the problem. From both interview what sticks out is the ability to communicate, that however should not undermine the fact that you have to be good at problem solving. 

Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, Ernst and Young, and KPMG look forward to hiring students that graduate from College Park

It is worth noting that you can walk out with a plethora of degrees and still get a job as a consultant. Furthermore consultants are being hired left and right by companies so the chances of getting a job in consulting are excellent.Unlike other jobs which require you to walk out of a university with a specific degree, consulting requires that you just be of a specific major such as business or engineering. Both the professor I interviewed said that the companies listed above hire at College Park, so no surprise there. Your opportunities as a consultant are not limited to the companies that hire you, one must keep in mind that someone can be a free lance consultant. The difference between working for a company such as Accenture and being a free lance consultant is that consulting companies already have clients. This means that if you are  free lance consultant you are on your own and may have periods where you make no money. Another downside to being a free lance client is that unlike consulting companies that place you with their clients, you have to basically deal with companies directly instead of a middleman. This means there are a plethora of industries you may end up being placed in. Having said that the upside to free lance consulting is that you keep all the money you make. Lets say you work for Accenture for $30 an hr, in this case Accenture is most likely charging their client around $80 for your services. Being a free lance consultant eliminates the middle man. Lastly due to technical issues this video is a little over a minute long. 


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