In the last few years, the big tech firms like Google and Apple have risen to become the most in demand employers for graduates. Not long ago, the top spots were dominated by the leading banks and also the big 3 strategy consultancies. So has a spell in consulting become less relevant than it was a decade ago?
For me, the answer is no (or perhaps ‘largely not’).
WHY A SPELL IN CONSULTING IS STILL RELEVANT
1. Consulting is a great career in itself. Yes, the majority of people use it as a stepping stone ‘into industry’, but for many, it becomes a life long pursuit. And there are lots to recommend it: a variety of interesting problems to solve, super-smart colleagues, travel, constant interaction with (often new) people – clients or colleagues.
2. Consulting skills are as relevant and transferable today, as they were when I started in 2007. Particularly if you aspire towards General Management (rather than deep functional or technical expertise). Simply put, consultancies are training grounds; they refine your thinking. You are taught, coached, pushed and learn to influence and communicate in a sophisticated way. You learn tangible business semi-basics (valuation, strategy, financial modelling…) – which is highly relevant in the UK where graduates from all degrees can enter consulting (perhaps less so e.g, in France where generally consultants have business degrees or in the US where MBAs are more common). These transferable skills remain as sought after as they ever were.
3. Consulting remains a fast-track. And certain brands in particular (in a similar fashion to the university/school you attended) are a rubber stamp of calibre. After a spell of a few years, you are sought after for opportunities that wouldn’t be thought suitable for those with only a few years experience elsewhere. And the range of opportunities open to you is unparalleled (from startups to scale-ups to corporates to PE & VC).
So, what are the caveats? You have nothing to lose through a spell in consulting. Especially if you go into it in order to keep your options open, discover different industries and work out what you ‘really want to do’.
WHEN IS CONSULTING LESS RELEVANT
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