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Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers

#1 Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 00:36


Hello All,

I am going to try and be as "MECE" (just learnt this word) as I can here but I'm also going to try and not leave anything out in hope that some of you may be able to shed some light on my life and where I should go with it.

I originally came to this forum after "discovering" the profession of MC and (like, I imagine a lot of people) felt a sense of joy and desire- This is what I have been looking for, a profession with everything I want and that I am ideally suited to!

After reading all the previous posts from graduates and prospective MC's I feel somewhat disappointed by my prospects, but respect that there are a lot of bright people on this forum giving solid advice. Where better to get it from than societies high achievers?

I graduated in 2014 with a 2:1 in Design Engineering (School of Mechanical Engineering but not quite mechanical) from a mid level Uni (with a top 10 engineering department).

My A Levels were ABC. I became very ill during final year A levels and this along with a somewhat turbulent home life resulted in my not achieving my predicted AAB, resulting in a mid tier uni)

At the time I was naive and thought that I was doing the right thing by going traveling as planned, not resiting, accepting my second choice and by choosing a design related degree where I could express all my special unicorn creativity (my parents wanted me to do engineering, hence the compromise).

I somewhat coasted through Uni with no direction or purpose generally having a good time, reading a lot and education myself in everything but my degree topic or the job market. But I got my 2:1 and imagined myself one day working for National Geographic traveling and exploring the world.

Then the real world crushed my spirit and I started looking for jobs. Since then it has been a slow and painful process of compromising my dreams of being a professional unicorn and trying to be realistic with my ambitions.

My personal perspective of how I could fit into the UK graduate job market evolved into this:

Success and happiness = Moving to London and getting a law contract, investment banking scheme, accountant or auditing scheme with a top international company.

Second to this are a lot of "industry' schemes such as IT and manufacturing

Or there's the medicine route (I have always fancied psychiatry)

Or Engineering - The only industry of which seems to offer a decent deal is Energy.

I was so overwhelmed with it all that I decided that sticking to Engineering would narrow it down a bit. I initially didn't want to go into oil on moral grounds, but then grew up and started applying just in time for the industry to implode.

So I got six week placement at the largest Engineering consultancy in the UK followed by a graduate Project Engineer position with a very small renewable energy consultancy (10 people) in my home city.

6 months on I am totally bored and uninspired stuck in my home town watching some of my friends, who I know to be less bright but more focused, getting law contracts and banking schemes in the city.

I was looking for a way I could use my technical background to go into something a bit more "big picture" and business orientated. I really enjoy the strategic, political and business side of my small consultancy but hate the introspective engineering work.

I then read "think and grow rich" and "rich dad poor dad". Both made me think that I should be learning about how to make money, starting businesses, investing and not going back to school... "finding mentors" all that stuff (or fluff?)

Then I discovered Management consulting and thought that is exactly what I have been looking for, why not aim for the top, when we're all completely honest with ourselves this is what we really want isn't it, we're apes, we want to be at the top of society and F the best women? Then I realised that there's a million and one grads with AAA and a top 5 1st class degree thinking the same thing.

So for the first time in my life I have a burning ambition and drive to work hard and realise my potential coupled with the frustration of bad choices and fear of cocking it all up.

At the moment I am considering the following options:

1. Start again:

Work one more year, take night classes to bump up my A levels to AAA or similar, reapply and hope that a top university will take me on a good engineering program straight into second year on the grounds of my illness during A levels (...likelihood??). Don't think I could do or afford all 3 years , graduate with the a top degree and apply for a big 4 consulting firm or large energy company at around the age of 27 (maybe when oil and gas has picked up)

2. Go back a step:

Go back to the same university and see if they will let me take the extra modules to make my degree a 1st class Mechanical (Likelihood?), then apply to big 4 or do a masters.

3. Go forward on a risky route:

Work and save to afford business analyst masters from Warwick or LSE and hope that I'll get a look in with my undergrad as it is

4. Go forward on a slightly less risky route:

Save less and do a Chemical Engineering Msc (I realised in uni that i really like chemistry and could possibly do this as a job) at a top uni (such as UCL) hope that this shows ability enough to get into consulting, also keeps my options open to a well paid chem eng job or the oil industry if it picks up.

(As an irrelevant side note, sorry, I'm gay for nature and like UCL's nature inspired chemical engineering department, maybe I could be fulfilled doing low paid research that I enjoy)

5. Go forward but veer into consultancy

No masters and reapply to jobs closely related to consultancy and work my way in somehow (Likelihood?)

6. Veer into oil and gas

Do a masters in Subsea engineering (the best paid and mostly likely industry to weather the economic oil and gas S storm). Possibly hate it as it highly technical and small scale- but could love it if I get into BP or something like that.

7. Keep on the same track

Stick with my plan to get an engineering role in a big energy or utilites company and hope that the work is bigger scale, maybe move into management or strategy within one of these companies - become an expert engineer and use that as an in, to a job with consultancy like credentials - lots of travel and big picture strategy work where by I can be involved in creative and diverse projects.

In the long run I would really like to be successful enough in consulting to give myself the emotional and financial freedom to not feel guilty about going into wildlife film making or conservation. Whilst still being able to support my family and give my children the best possible start in life.

I will respect brutal honesty. In exchange, if you don't mind, Id appreciate it if you would give your current job or life position briefly in your response.

Thanks in advance

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#2 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 13:13

agentsmith to GJ (#1)

Your background is more than fine for entry into Consulting at a tier two firm eg anything but MBB.

I'm a Manager at Accenture very likely to hit Senior Manager in December and your educational background trumps mine considerably. I did a grad scheme at a blue chip then moved over at Consultant level.

Your post, whilst descriptive, needs a summary!

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#3 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 15:00

GJ to agentsmith (#2)

Okay thank you agentsmith,

To summaries:

- 6 months working as mechanical engineer at a small engineering consultancy

- 2:1 Design engineering, mid tier uni with a top 10 engineering department

- A level: ABC

Can I make it in consulting?

Should I stick to engineering and go into oil and gas?

Should I do a masters in either subject?

If I want to get to the top of either field should I go back and get better A levels and do 2 years in a top 10 Uni in a traditional Engineering subject?

If I can make it in consulting would it be worth applying now, or do I need more work experience/ a masters degree? If so what would people recommend?

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#4 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 16:02

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to GJ (#3)

Groan. Rather than pontificating about how "ideally suited you are to MC", why not apply and find out.

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#5 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 16:32

GJ to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#4)

Yeah, you're right I might be completely useless and I will apply.

I just got the sense from previous posts that people with my academic record are likely just going to get stuck in middle management or in small consultancies and it would be worthwhile them doing something else, as its so competitive.

It was broken down in a previous post, to someone that had no degree and a history managing restaurants as being 0.001% chance that they'd make it into a proper interesting MC role. So I guess my main question is - Is this likely to happen to someone with my academic record?

Apologies for the length of my original post,


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#6 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
26/07/2015 17:04

agentsmith to GJ (#5)

BEP is right, you need to apply and find out.

On the middle management thing, outside MBB, once you get into a consultancy, the field is levelled and it's how well you navigate the networking, projects, politics for promotion as no one will ever question your academics again. Basically it's as meritocratic as internal politics will allow.

Middle management in consultancy isn't the worst place to end up - you'll still be pulling in a package of £85k or more.

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#7 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
27/07/2015 14:10

Anon MCs to GJ (#5)

Hi GJ,

My view below (although I think it would be good for Mars or Coolio to come in and provide some sound advice).

Having done a quick read of your options thread:

1) No dont start again, your degree is fine and your grades are not so bad, you can get into MCs with them. Not MBB, but plenty of others will be a possibility. So what if you only manage a small ish consultancy or not quite what you want. Work hard, network, do a good job and you'll soon be able to go to (eg) Accenture, if that is your aim

2) This is a difficult one... having a 1:1 instead of a 2:1 wouldn't hurt, especially from a mid tier University. If there is a chance that you could make it a 1:1, I would research this in the background while continuing with everything else. There should be ways that you can ask the Uni to do the extra module(s) part time while working full time, hopefully

3) No need. See answer to number 1)

4) Sounds good if you really are into Chem Eng. Have a think carefully, do you love it enough to go down this route?

5) Go for it, won't hurt to do this option whatever you decide. Likelihood? Depends on your CV and how good you are in Assessment Centres / interviews...

6) If you hate it that much... this will be a pain. You won't enjoy the Masters and looks like career wise its not something that is really exciting for you. You can still join BP through other routes

7) Sounds sensible. Remember MCs like high achievers both in and outside of work. Hence make sure your CV shows more than just "A Levels - Degree - Job please"

Similar to another forum regular here called Coolio, aka Mr Cool, my "life position" (as you called it) is slightly higher than a tadpole but lower than a hyena (who contrary to popular storytelling are far more efficient and intelligent hunters than lions)

FYI - Do key word research on this forum and you'll find out more about Cool, Mars, Bushy and I.

Best of luck

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#8 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
27/07/2015 15:58

marsday to GJ (#1)

At the moment I am considering the following options:

1. Never ever start again. In anything. Navigate from where you are.

2. No. See point 1.

3. Not a risky route. Just one of procrastination dressed up on the cheap clothes of fake progress.

4. Stop bouncing from one lifelong interest to the next bright, sparkly and slightly easier thing. And grow up a bit - what the xxxx is 'gay for nature'?

5. Go forward. Don't veer. Who actually bloody veers?

6. Stop this 'veer' cr&p. This is just allowing a margin of excuses and failure which undermine your commitment to achieve something you want.

7. Bingo. You can now get all 'gay for MC' or something.

My life position is somewhere between an aggressively replicating bacteria and artificial intelligence.

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#9 RE: Seeking General Career Advice from High Achievers
27/07/2015 17:27

Anon MCs to marsday (#8)

Haha. +1 to Mars.

I hereby retract my statements written while munching on a salad (oh I remember the days when it would have been a nice team lunch...) and propose you GJ go "all gay" for Mars advice.

Mars - Bacteria is just sooo yucky (my USA stint coming out with that word I know).

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