5 Essentials to Survive a Career in Consulting

Consulting isn’t an easy job — we commonly work 80+ hours a week, fly coast-to-coast, and juggle conflicting priorities. Over the course of my time in management consulting, I’ve found the following essentials to be crucial to making the grueling life on the road survivable.

1. Headphones

Headphones are probably the most commonly-used gadget for consultants (aside from their smartphones, of course). They’re used to drown out noise in airplanes, take client calls, and listen to music. I probably use headphones upwards of 6 hours a day — that’s over 2,000 hours a year! A great pair (or two) of headphones go a long way in making life just a little bit easier. Here are the two I use:

Bose QuiteComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Great for in-flight entertainment with its noise-cancelling feature

Apple AirPods

I use AirPods for day-to-day client calls

2. Luggage

If you travel for work, investing in the right luggage is a must. Luggage should be the right size for your belongings, easy to use, durable and stylish. I use two pieces of luggage on a daily basis — my carry on luggage and laptop briefcase.

Carry On Luggage: Travelpro Maxlite 21″ Suitcase

Durable & affordable

Laptop Briefcase: Tumi Alpha Bravo Slim

Laptop Briefcase: Jack Spade Nylon Brief



3. Portable Steamer

Ironing clothes every morning takes forever. With a portable steamer, you can instantly de-wrinkle clothes and sleep in just a little longer each morning!

PurSteam Garment Steamer

4. A Nice Watch

Wearing a nice watch to work can go a long way. An often overlooked and understated accessory, a watch can add flavor and style to any look. That being said, a nice watch does not mean a $10,000 Rolex. There are dozens of well-crafted & well-priced watches on the market for both men and women.

Men: Hamilton Khaki Navy Pioneer

Women: Michael Kors Runway (Rose Gold)

5. Reading Material

Taking some time away from work to unwind and relax is important to manage day-to-day stress. I love to read books during my free time, and a Kindle is an affordable way to have access to a lifetime’s worth of reading material.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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Starting a Job in Management Consulting

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:

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.

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