This is a guest post by Nataliya Semenchuk for Contributor Platform.
To be completely honest, consulting is simply not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re looking for a 9 to 5, with routine duties and set in stone weekends off. Unless consulting is your true calling and you really enjoy doing it, chances are that you will be looking for a career switch in no time at all. That said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider an internship in consulting, in fact I would highly recommend getting one.
Competition for internships at the top consulting companies like Bain & Co., Deloitte, and McKinsey & Co. is definitely fierce. However, the experience you will get from these companies is among the best in the county. On the other hand, interning for a smaller, boutique-style consulting firm will yield more access to different projects and let you try yourself in many areas.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to stay in consulting, the greatest value of the internship experience lies in the fact that you will be able to sharpen and develop a variety of new transferable skills. These skills are sure to come in handy later in your professional life, no matter what career you decide to pursue.
You will be learning a lot. All consulting firms provide their new interns with an initial training, after which it is mostly “learning by doing”. This hands-on type of approach, is extremely effective and possible due to the fact that you will be teaming up not only with your fellow interns but also with the experienced senior members; observe them in action and work with them side by side.
Consulting provides one of the most dynamic and intellectually stimulating work environments. You will be involved in many active enterprises, assigned to multiple teams and work with real clients, all at the same time. If nothing else, consulting will do a fine job teaching you self-discipline and responsibility. Staying organized is utmost important, as it is the only way to successfully manage numerous concurrent projects, while keeping your sanity. Not to mention, by wearing so many hats you will be able to identify what you are really good at and narrow down the career path that matches your skills best.
Structured problem solving
Consultants’ primary responsibility is to help their clients make the best, most optimal strategic business decisions possible. Complex multi-stage research and analysis processes precede any recommendation made by a consulting team, with a premium being placed on the team’s combined intellectual capability. Being a part of a consulting team teaches you creative thinking, business sense, and the ability to think on your feet.
To be able to focus on bigger business problems and keep track of all the smaller issues at the same time, an immaculate attention to detail is required. Handling large quantities of data may be challenging but consultants must do this on a daily basis. You will learn how to simplify a problem at hand by deconstructing it into smaller units, prioritizing key pieces of information, and zoning in on the most important factors. This structured approach works not just for problems in consulting, but for any problems you may encounter in the future.
Consulting teams work on problems that are simply too big, too complex and time consuming for one person to handle. So, teamwork is not an empty word in consulting. Teamwork gets things done and you will be able to experience it firsthand. Great teams, in any field, are all about mutual trust, accountability, effective and timely communication, clarity and feedback. And so, people skills and efficient time management are just some of the many talents that you will be able to hone by assisting other members and taking ownership of tasks and projects.
Unparalleled networking possibilities
Consulting is a gateway to power networking. Each project opens up new possibilities to network with professionals of different seniority levels. Firstly, you will be able to meet other bright individuals, who are likely to be at the same stage in their lives as you are – your fellow interns. Who knows, in the future they might become influential C-level managers, so it would not be a bad idea to get to know them now.
Typically, there is going to be one or two consultants involved in your project. Not only you will receive great mentorship, but also get a chance to impress “the right people” (with your work ethic and, more importantly, results). Of course, there is an opportunity to network with your client’s team as well. Consequently, you may either get a job offer or a valuable recommendation straight from the managing partner that will boost your resume and help jump-start your career.
About the Author:
Nataliya Semenchuk is a marketing and consumer behavior enthusiast, and she currently works for a Legal Department Management firm in Boston.