As recent college graduates prepare to begin wearing business casual for the rest of their lives, I thought it would be fitting to share some advice from my four years of experience in consulting. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering about my experiences, which means it probably applies to about 99% of people. I encourage anyone else to chime in with advice or agree/disagree with what I have shared.
1. Find the Line, Then Step On It
No, I'm not talking about . I’m talking about the line between doing your work (well, hopefully) and telling your manager no. My mentality coming into my first job was that I would work hard, do whatever was asked of me, and I would succeed because of the good work I had done. I learned the way consulting works is that when work gets done, people make money. Or, the partner makes money, and pass on down what he thinks is reasonable. Once you know what is really expected of people at your level, it’s time to tell that unorganized manager who is flailing to keep their job that you’re not staying past midnight anymore this week to work on stuff they could have given you to work on weeks ago when you were asking them what needed to be done. Be respectful, but have self-respect.
2. That Guy Who Does Nothing But Still Keeps His Job? Don’t Be Friends with Him
If you’ve started already, I assume you’ve met this guy. Every office has him. In a world of touchy feel-good performance reviews and really great employment attorneys, these wastes of space are allowed to stick around for a long, long time. They usually happen to be nice, fun people too. But they are the last person in the office you want to befriend. They won’t give you good advice because if they had any good advice, they’d heed it themselves. Also, they’re not going anywhere in the firm, so building a working relationship with them won’t benefit you in the future.
3. Tell Your Boss What You Want to Do
After 4 years I still have not perfected this, but it’s so important. Consulting MDs/Partners are usually talented, well-adjusted, and extremely busy people. They want to know what’s going on under them and how they can develop their people. If they can help one of their peons excel at something, it is literally money in their pocket. No, don’t set up an appointment with your boss to complain about your crappy manager. But do use the opportunities you have to express what you want to do and how you see your progression at the firm. Your boss might not always be able to make your dreams happen, but they like to hear that you’re motivated and want to do well.