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Quitting after 2 months

#1 Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 00:19


I just started 2 months ago as a graduate with a big 4 firm and pretty much hate every minute of it. I understand that, at graduate entry I am expected to do a lot of the very basic monkey work, however those with many years of experience also seem to endure this Powerpoint-induced comatose work.

My question therefore is, do I stick it out in the hope that it will eventually get better or should I apply for a job in an unrelated field where there is very little career progression, but will maintain my sanity?

How bad, CV-wise, does it look to leave after 2 months?

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#2 RE: Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 05:57

daniellim1988 to shepard (#1)


Whether you like it or not, unfortunately consulting requires you to deal a lot with "powerpoint-induced comatose" work...

With that said, before you even decided to join the Big 4 firm in the field of consulting...what were your initial expectations?

As this field requires you to convey the message across to the client in the best possible way, there will be a lot of "formatting" or "changes" to your presentation slides which even your seniors with many years of experience would be required to do..

So like it or not, this "Powerpoint-induced comatose" work will take up quite a bit of your time....

So suck it up and remember the reason why your doing that kind of work is so that your client understands that your work is of value-adding OR you will be out of a job....

Also, you said you are a graduate, means you are quite young...suggest you learn the pains of doing the menial stuff first before moving forward to doing the delicious portion....

Maintain your sanity? Consulting has quite a high turnover me, you are not the only one who's trying to stay sane...only diff is every other consultant is sticking his head out until he cant take it anymore before moving on to the client's side...with that said, yes, it looks bad after leaving within 2 months of your first job.....means you cant take the pressure....

Unless you hate consulting altogether....then please point staying in a field you hate....

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#3 RE: Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 09:08

Big4Partner to shepard (#1)

Its not unusual that you feel that way. We expect this to happen to a proportion of grads, however this does seem to be an increasing phenomenon. Rather than suffer in silence go and talk to your buddy or career counsellor or the responsible Partner for the graduate programme. Its quite ok.

I've had many conversations like this over the years with new graduates.

16 years ago I was a politics graduate and for the first 9 months I manually typed in the same Unix script into a terminal about a thousand times a day. I was just happy to have a job at that point and pay my rent. Gradually I got to do more interesting things (and not involving IT!) and work with great people around the world.

Consulting is the most diverse and interesting career you can have and the longer you are in the more opportunities open up for you, but you've got to take a long term view.

Without knowing your situation, I would recommend not even thinking about leaving until you've done 2 years. You have loads to learn, not only about your job, but also what it takes to be in the workplace, and you've not yet given it a chance.

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#4 RE: Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 09:17

khanabd to Big4Partner (#3)

I totally agree. Do not leave this job. Give it some time.

University life is different than professional one. You got to give it some time to learn about how to behave in professional world. Believe me, very soon you will find it interesting and challenging.

Best of luck.

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#5 RE: Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 13:29

Tony Restell ( to shepard (#1)

Quite a number of issues to tackle here I feel:

1. What were you expecting a career in consulting to offer at graduate entry level that it isn't delivering on? I would put it to you that the early years of your career in most graduate fields involve their fair share of monotony / wishing you were several years further progressed in your field. My key question is therefore whether there's really anything inherently bad about consulting specifically or would you actually be feeling just as dejected had you pursued a career in accounting, banking, a corporate fast-track scheme, etc? If that's the case then jumping ship now to start out somewhere else could leave you feeling just as dejected a year from now but in a different sector and with a second career change so early in your career really out of the question for the damage it'd do to your CV.

2. Is there something specifically about consulting that you can't stand? If you can pinpoint something tangible about consulting that means it's simply not what you want to be doing for the next years of your life, then there is a window of opportunity for you to get out of the sector now. You could realistically apply during milkround recruiting and go into a totally different sector if you were to take this decision now. Reaching this conclusion and acting on it after 2 months will be seen as brave and decisive, so not necessarily a nail in the coffin of your career. But you'd have to have a very credible reason why consulting isn't for you and why you've had a change of heart and want to do XYZ instead. Simply not liking what the work entailed when you started on the job isn't a good reason, as every recruiter will fear you could have the same reaction once you've started out on a career with them.

3. Why not be proactive in remedying this? As Big4Partner has suggested, go and talk to someone in the company who is in a position to do something about this. At the conservative end of the spectrum you might just be able to get assigned to a different project or moved to a different practice area within the firm or given a new mentor / buddy who helps you to get through this. More radically, you might be able to secure a move to a totally different function within the business. These firms are doing lots of innovative things in social media and the like right now, both in terms of marketing the firm to clients and also for recruiting purposes. So it may be that you could secure a move internally that would give you a new lease of life there and not leave you with that blot on your CV. If the alternative is that you're going to leave the firm then you've nothing really to lose by seeing what comes of such a discussion have you?

Hope this helps and good luck with finding a way out of this situation.

Tony Restell

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#6 RE: Quitting after 2 months
11/10/2011 23:09

shepard to Tony Restell ( (#5)

Thanks for all of your responses and for not just calling me ungrateful (typical parents!) :)

I agree with a lot of what you are saying, and I truly appreciate how lucky I am to even have a job straight out of uni so I've been careful about making too much noise about my dissatisfaction within work. I will definitely take on board your suggestions and talk to my buddy/ manager about this though.

As for the questions:

1. What were you expecting a career in consulting to offer at graduate entry level that it isn't delivering on?

I understood that I would be doing a lot of basic work for the first few months, learning the ropes etc, but I expected to be at least participating in things like helping to write reports, dealing with clients etc. Right now I literally go in everyday and manually search the internet for things like annual reports for company turnover to then put into an excel file. Sometimes I also do QA checks on other people's work. I have never had to deal with clients and it seems like you need to be there for 5 or 6 years before you're trusted to do anything that comes with any real responsibility. I guess the problem is that I've worked all through uni in 'proper' jobs which came with some responsibility for writing proposals etc, so I just expected similar.

2. Is there something specifically about consulting that you can't stand?

I don't like that everyone seems stuck in their ways about doing things. When I suggest new ways to make things quicker with Powerpoint etc, I'm just told by my managers to do it manually so it will come out okay. Re consulting, I'm just not really sure what consulting even is! I've been here 2 months and I still can't answer that question.

3. Why not be proactive in remedying this?

In my monthly review, I informed my manager that I found the work completely different to what I had expected and that I was surprised to be getting paid for what I was doing! However, I didn't really stress hard enough how much I hate the mundane tasks I have to do everyday. I mean, if there was a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of knowing that interesting work would eventually be forthcoming, I'd happily stick out the basic work I'm doing now but I don't plan on sticking around for 6 years to find out. Even if 20% of the work was interesting/ challenging, I'd be happy, but managers seem to presume all graduates are idiots and give us work to match :(

Apologies for sounding so negative. I know this is your career and most of you love it and you are certainly all a lot more intelligent than me to be able to stick out mundane tasks and, of course, get to where you are (see study re: genius kids amusing themselves, stupid kids needing to be entertained). It seems the internet has heaped upon me expectations of being constantly challenged or entertained and I've now turned into one of those 'job jumpers' I claim to hate!

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#7 RE: Quitting after 2 months
12/10/2011 09:19

Rollercoaster to shepard (#6)

What is this 'interesting' work that you are looking for?

Please be specific about what you were expecting.

A lot of consulting has to be data driven to provide some level of confidence in the findings / recommendations. Someone has to do the data churning work.

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#8 RE: Quitting after 2 months
12/10/2011 16:13

alexandermeerkat to shepard (#6)

To be honest I think you should quit and do something else if you can.

Sounds like you've got a lot of good work experience so should be at least some other opportunities.

I don't agree it's necessarily worth doing two years at something you hate. You're not going to perform well and will lose your energy.

Have a think about what else you might want to do - sectors, roles (sales, marketing, finance etc) and maybe give that a go.

You could always focus on finding something new and then quit once you do.

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#9 RE: Quitting after 2 months
13/10/2011 13:09

Recruitertoo to shepard (#1)

A lot of good points above: as a recruiter (both of graduates for my business and of staff for my clients) I believe your absolute top priority has to be to consider how it looks on your CV in order to appeal to future employers and therefore keep your options as wide as possible. Leaving now looks cr*p for so many, many reasons that it narrows the options DRAMATICALLY. If you stick it for even a year you should have a seriously broad range of careers to consider and a much better idea of what you might want to do (including staying put!): if you leave now you won’t. End of story.

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#10 RE: Quitting after 2 months
13/10/2011 18:25

DenLin to shepard (#6)


Tony and the others gave good advice but also consider that consulting is not a profession for everyone and I am not being cheeky here at all.

Every profession have their pros and cons and there is always a large amount of "not-so-fun-work" in every job. Having mentored many consultants over the years and worked with even more, I've seen many a consultant realizing that this is not quite their cup of tea. It's never one thing that does it. Things tends to accumulate but normally the hot topics tend to be; long hours, number crunching, PowerPoint marathons, short deadlines, pedantic partners, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love this line of work but it's so much easier digesting the nicer sides of the work than the negative and I'm only trying to give you a realistic view. Not everyone is cut out for this profession.

In order to make an informed choice, I can only emphasise that you search yourself and try to understand if this line of work is really for you. Much of the work you do as a consultant is analysis and synthesis (number crunching and trying to draw a map of a dark room). Another large part of the work is preparation of the material for presentation and this is where the art of consulting comes out. What good is a great idea if you can't convey the right message to your client.

I usually say that there are two types of consultants: those that use their consulting career as a stepping stone / accelerator for other jobs and those that see consulting in itself as a career. Both options are valid and the industry excels on the fact that there is a certain amount of turnover amongst consultants so you won't be the first to consider an early exit. In a larger firm 25-40% leave during their first year.

Personally I wouldn't frown on a CV where someone left a job after a couple of months as long as the person is aware of and can explain their reason for leaving. It is not the occasional swift job change that worries a recruiter; it is the frequent swift job changes that signal "job stability issues".

Good luck in your decision whatever it will be but speaking from my perspective, I have been a consultant for almost 17 years and I love every day and don't regret my choice staying in the industry.

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