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unsatisfied

 
#1 unsatisfied
05/08/2008 02:32

First few years at MC? Help!

I am doing an internship at a good boutique consulting firm in London, (think the likes of OC&C, Monitor, LEK), but all I have been doing are just research, spreadsheets and powerpoint slides. It's not the 'round table, intelligent discussion with intelligent people' as I have imagined.

This applies to most other people at the firm (<2years). Only when you have surpassed the 5 year mark, do you start to really contribute creatively.

This has put a lot of doubt in my head as to whether I should continue down this path. Is such a working pattern in the first few years similar across all consultancies?

If I were to work for a blue chip firm, will it be the same?

I did another internship at a very small technology firm before. I got to meet clients, speak with directors all the time and really contributed. Is this rare?

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#2 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 08:13

anon to First few years at MC? Help! (#1)

"Is such a working pattern in the first few years similar across all consultancies?"

Yes, this is very typical of consulting (and other professional services) firms.

"If I were to work for a blue chip firm, will it be the same?"

There's a strong chance that you'd be spending time in a similar role, but you'd also have a higher chance of being in a more stretching role/rotating into such a role.

"I got to meet clients, speak with directors all the time and really contributed. Is this rare?"

It's fairly common at small technology firms and startups in industry, but uncommon elsewhere.

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#3 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 08:50

Casio to anon (#2)

I think it raises an interesting question. What's better for you're career development? A big brand or a small, enterprising start up?

Sadly it will almost always be the former, even though skills and experience can often be grown far more rapidly at the later.

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#4 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 08:51

Casio to Casio (#3)

you're = your. We need an edit function Tony! Too many escapes slip through this early in the morning.

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#5 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 08:51

anon to anon (#2)

Welcome to consultancy, kiddo. Contrary to what you might have read in the Sunday newspapers, consultancy isn't about sipping cappochinos in boardrooms whilst basically doing nothing, nor is it about whispering sweet nothings into CEOs' ears over candlelit suppers. Particularly in the large firms, you become merely a small component in a large machine. It's better to work for a small company. Incidentally, after 5 years, it's no better. You just replace the analytical grunt work with unrealistic billings targets and a monthly treadmill to churn out as much as you can.

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#6 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 12:18

Toilette to anon (#5)

Your response is pretty standard to most people who have been at LEK which was predictably the third company you put on your list of who it might be. Some people do well out of it, and others much prefer it elsewhere. If you don't think you like it from an internship then it is probably not the place for you. Does not mean everywhere is the same, but as others say, it is not always much fun for the first few years in consulting

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#7 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 13:22

simska wayne to Toilette (#6)

As a rule of thumb, at smaller firms you will get exposure to a more varied population of the client’s staff. Outside of MC the smaller the firm the more likely you are to mix with the senior management earlier in your career.

As someone that is not in MC but works with them as the client I would say that the junior MC staff get fantastic exposure to different industries, firms and cultures within an industry, great training and development and learn the importance of delivery to the client. They are also great names to have on the CV.

In Banking there is great demand for manager/senior manager level staff that either become disillusioned with the MC lifestyle or who are looking for a move into industry. This is assuming you have transferable skills (which most do). Even the advanced power point skills are highly prized.

If you go straight into a blue chip firm your early career is likely to be less structured and progression is much more your own responsibility. For instance few firms offer a career path where you get automatically promoted based on length of service combined with hitting performance targets.

Banking is full of great people that never get above £40K a year just because they are not as competitive or don’t seize the opportunities that come along.

I would recommend you start in MC if you can and enjoy it for the first few years and then evaluate if it still feels right for you. You have great exit routes from MC and the experience gained will be invaluable.

Your best exit routes will be:

Industry: Banking as well as other large industries.

Contracting: MCs make great contractors and their skills are valued highly.

We hire lots of MCs as contractors. Some recruiters I know search Linkedin looking for Accenture senior managers to link to so that they can see their network of colleagues to approach.

I would say top tip for any MC looking to get out is make sure you have joined Linkedin and have a network of thirty plus colleagues/friends.

Second tip: contact contractors and industry staff that you have worked with on projects at client sites once they have moved firms and let them know you are considering a move. (Best not to do this while they still work for your client as this does not go down too well and can put everyone in a difficult position).

I run a social network site for freelance contractors in the Banking industry and you could ask people on there for their experience of starting out in the work place. Many will have experience in MC, Industry perm and contract.

You will have to Google my name to find the social network because I am not sure whether you can blatantly plug things on here. (I am meeting Tony soon to check that sort of thing) It’s free of charge so hopefully you will not shoot me down in flames.

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#8 RE: unsatisfied
05/08/2008 22:34

First few years at MC? Help! to simska wayne (#7)

wow, just came back from work, never imagined there would be so many replies already.

I just want to thank everyone for giving your opinion and advice.

I just have another issue if all you guys are not yet annoyed by this unsatisfied intern.

I am studying at Cambridge and top of the year in my course. I don't want to sound so cocky, but I feel overqualified to do what I do. MC is a very competitive industry, with 1 in who know how many chances of getting into a good firm. But I feel, as well as other interns at my firm, that really a lot of people can do this job, it's not hard and is not really intellectually challenging.

Any thoughts?

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#9 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 08:00

The Senior Vice President to First few years at MC? Help! (#8)

Yes, we all know the feeling!

Most bright graduates could probably complete their daily workload within 2 hours or so. After all, googling a few facts and churning out a few graphs isn't difficult. However, owing to the poor time management of their supervisors (many of whom will only have been in the job for a few months because of high staff turnover rates in many MC firms), they often have to hang around in the office until 10pm "just in case something comes up".

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#10 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 08:07

anon to First few years at MC? Help! (#8)

In general it's true that you won't be guaranteed intellectual challenge but the same could be said of any career. Even staying in academia, only a small percentage or roles within the profession will demand the full application of your intellect.

What you do find as you move into working life (particularly in consulting but even in academia) is that you need to develop and employ a wider range of your intellect and skills (emotional intelligence, political skills, etc.). You also cannot rely upon the work environment to take you to your limits and stretch you - you have to actively search out and compete for roles within the profession that will stretch you.

I empathise with you but I don't think this dilemma is unique - almost all finalists and young graduates go through the same process at some point. From this point, some sit still and complain about how unfair a deal they've got (not unique to consultants on this messageboard, just witness medics' reaction to MTAS). Others take on the challenge to find or create the roles they really want.

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#11 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 08:48

MBB to anon (#10)

Knowing people who work at different firms, there is a actually quite a big difference between them in terms of the amount of time spent doing 'grunt work' and the amount of time spent with clients.

For instance, at McKinsey there is a relatively large research department (maybe 80 people to serve 400 consultants). This means that new consultants have to do less (not none) of things like phone interviews and basic research than their equivalents at OCC/LEK etc.

In terms of client exposure, firms that spend a lot of time at client site (rather than back in the office) will obviously have loads of client exposure at lots of different levels within the organisation (including senior levels). This is quite a big difference between McK and Bain for instance.

I would imagine (though it will depend on the firm) that a small start-up type place you might get more senior client exposure (though the clients themselves will be less senior). But a smaller firm will also have less support which will lead to more need for 'grunt work'

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#12 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 09:29

MBB to anon (#10)

Knowing people who work at different firms, there is a actually quite a big difference between them in terms of the amount of time spent doing 'grunt work' and the amount of time spent with clients.

For instance, at McKinsey there is a relatively large research department (maybe 80 people to serve 400 consultants). This means that new consultants have to do less (not none) of things like phone interviews and basic research than their equivalents at OCC/LEK etc.

In terms of client exposure, firms that spend a lot of time at client site (rather than back in the office) will obviously have loads of client exposure at lots of different levels within the organisation (including senior levels). This is quite a big difference between McK and Bain for instance.

I would imagine (though it will depend on the firm) that a small start-up type place you might get more senior client exposure (though the clients themselves will be less senior). But a smaller firm will also have less support which will lead to more need for 'grunt work'

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#13 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 10:30

Mars A Day to MBB (#12)

Steve, you want the next tab, the one on the left called 'Career Opportunities'. Class effort.

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#14 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 10:31

Mars to Mars A Day (#13)

I hadn't even finished typing and Tony removed the offending post - cheers Tony!

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#15 RE: unsatisfied
06/08/2008 11:43

Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) to Mars (#14)

Mars - just checked with the team and we haven't removed any threads. Perhaps an internet connection problem when you submitted your comment?

Tony Restell

Top-Consultant.com

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