Starting a job in management consulting can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. If you will be traveling — as most consultants do — your lifestyle will change dramatically. From the glamor of airline & hotel status, free vacations, and reimbursed steak dinners to the peril of delayed flights, long working hours, and living out of a suitcase, a job in management consulting can be a a bumpy (but rewarding) ride.
So how do you prepare?
Understand what kind of management consulting job you have
Management consulting is an umbrella term often used to describe several different types of jobs in consulting. The main types of management consulting jobs are those offered by some of the larger, well-known firms:
MBB Consulting Firms: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG
“Big 4” Consulting Firms: Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG
Other Consulting Firms: Accenture, ZS Associates, Oliver Wyman, etc.
These firms offer a wide variety of management consulting jobs, including: advisory, cyber security, risk management, strategy, technology, and human capital. Additionally, some firms offer these services to all industries while others specialize in just 1 or 2 industries. Understanding what work your firm does, where you fit in, and what industries your clients will be in is a great first step to succeeding in a management consulting job.
Prepare to be a road warrior
For the most part, a job in management consulting means that you will travel. It sounds fun — and it is — but also comes with several downsides you may not recognize at first. It is critical to prepare for traveling in management consulting.
Get your travel essentials
Investing in the right travel essentials (bags, headphones, toiletries) will help you have an enjoyable experience on the road. These are some of the key items you should invest in, along with some of my favorites:
- Suitcase – Travelpro Maxlite 4
- Laptop Bag / Backpack – TUMI – Men’s Alpha Bravo
- Laptop Mouse – Logitech M510 Wireless Computer Mouse
- Headphones – Bose QuietComfort 20
- Toiletry Bag – TUMI – Alpha 2 Hanging Travel Kit
Pick a hotel and airline – and stick with it
Accumulating airline miles and hotel points is one of the best perks of a job in management consulting – make sure you pick one brand and stick with it for as long as you can. Top airlines include Delta, American Airlines, and United. My personal favorite is Delta, as they offer unlimited complimentary upgrades (upon availability) and have the best service from my perspective. After the Marriott / SPG merger, choosing Marriott as your hotel of choice is probably your best bet.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check with your firm to see if they offer any status challenges to help you get to top-tier status way quicker than anyone else!
Network, Network, Network
Your network will be your largest asset in consulting — be sure to go to company events and talk to your peers about topics you are interested in. This will help drive your success and career path in a management consulting job.
You may also like: