Why are so many consultants eager to leave?

Hey guys,

From what I've gathered from speaking with consultants, places like Bain and BCG seem like fantastic places to work. The people appear to be happy and well-paid. Glassdoor/Fortune lists also support the idea that the consultants at BCG and Bain are happy. If they are so happy, why is there such a culture of "2/3 years then out" (often for inferior pay) on this forum? Is it different in real life, or are the consultants not as happy as they seem? Any input is appreciated.

Comments (27)

Mar 29, 2016 - 12:00pm
perpetual intern, what's your opinion? Comment below:

From a guy on reddit:

"The fact that you have to accept as a traveling consultant is that you just aren't going to be there for a lot of things. You aren't going to be making soup for a sick wife, coaching a little league team, joining the mid-week double date, etc.

That isn't the life you have signed up for."

Sums it up nicely

Mar 30, 2016 - 2:25pm
3200fps, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ccvv intern:

From a guy on reddit:

"The fact that you have to accept as a traveling consultant is that you just aren't going to be there for a lot of things. You aren't going to be making soup for a sick wife, coaching a little league team, joining the mid-week double date, etc.

That isn't the life you have signed up for."

Sums it up nicely

It cost me (2) relationships before I said F IT. Still in touch with many of the folks, and not shocking at all but most have left as well. Leaving did more than help me keep a good relationship but I felt "life" healthier overall.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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Mar 29, 2016 - 2:08pm
iloveburritos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My personal experience is that a lot of people actually start off in consulting and not wanting to stay for many years. They value the incredible learning experience and often want to do something else after those few years. Also, I have heard people mentioning leaving for less travel and settling down with a girlfriend. People have also told me that it is a very up or out system, why would you stay if it is quite obvious you won't make partner or will have trouble being promoted to project manager?

Mar 29, 2016 - 2:14pm
devildog2067, what's your opinion? Comment below:
iloveburritos:
People have also told me that it is a very up or out system, why would you stay if it is quite obvious you won't make partner or will have trouble being promoted to project manager?
Not "why would you" but "the firm won't let you." Pretty simple.

Attrition generally runs about 70/30 at every level -- about 70% of the folks who leave do so because they want to do something else, for whatever reason (great opportunity presents itself, more pay, fewer hours, less travel, more stability, P&L responsibility, burning desire to work on social justice issues, want to try a startup, want to move to a new city where there is no major airport, whatever) and about 30% leave because they don't have a choice.

It's not generally true that you leave for lower pay, it's typically the same or a bit higher although the trajectory is much flatter almost everywhere else. Specifics vary of course.

Mar 29, 2016 - 2:13pm
VCMonkey01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Part of it is lifestyle - some people definitely leave to take less demanding jobs with less travel, although this is more typical for older folks at the post-MBA level.

But the main reason is that the opportunities you can get after 2-3 years of working at MBB are also very compelling. You get emails from headhunters all the time with pretty awesome opportunities. Especially at the pre-MBA level, most people who leave MBB are going to private equity jobs that pay way more, cool jobs at start-ups or cushy strategy gigs at F500 companies. These are all jobs that are also pretty amazing for different reasons.

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Mar 31, 2016 - 7:08am
GMG, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Well put - One of the better posts on this forum.

Mar 31, 2016 - 8:29am
LiamNeeson, what's your opinion? Comment below:
karl_pilkington:

In the end, it was a very simple realisation that the client I needed to serve with full dedication and commitment was my family and not McK or any of its clients.

This. Thinking about my previous relationship gone awry, I wish I had realized this sooner.

Mar 30, 2016 - 3:00pm
bonks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

.

Nothing short of everything will really do.
Apr 1, 2016 - 12:10pm
city_north, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Having worked in consulting for 8 months now I know that I wont be here for much longer. I am away 4 days a week so never able to do anything mid week with friends or girlfriend. Also, if you do have a girlfriend it also means you need to dedicate your entire weekend to her therefore giving you limited time to catch up with friends. Also, living in hotels means you workout less and eat more unhealthy food. I will stay for another year and then look at options to move internally to a corporate finance role with minimal travel.

The work is very interesting, and actually seeing projects through with the client is quite rewarding but the travel is too much for me personally.

Apr 2, 2016 - 7:15am
SF_G, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A lot of college students looking to get into consulting say traveling is one of the things they look forward to (b/c most haven't been anywhere aside from the town they grew up in and the place where they go to college). Then they realize you see nothing more than the airport, hotel, building you meet in, and that's it.

Apr 2, 2016 - 10:31am
F. Ro Jo, what's your opinion? Comment below:
SF_G:

A lot of college students looking to get into consulting say traveling is one of the things they look forward to (b/c most haven't been anywhere aside from the town they grew up in and the place where they go to college). Then they realize you see nothing more than the airport, hotel, building you meet in, and that's it.

don't be a negative nancy.... you get to see maybe 1 restaurant.

Apr 2, 2016 - 2:17pm
devildog2067, what's your opinion? Comment below:
SF_G:

A lot of college students looking to get into consulting say traveling is one of the things they look forward to (b/c most haven't been anywhere aside from the town they grew up in and the place where they go to college). Then they realize you see nothing more than the airport, hotel, building you meet in, and that's it.

Travel is what you make it, and what you let it be. I've said no to 4-day-a-week travel throughout my entire career, other than one two month stint I've just never done it (I average 1.5 days/week on the road now). I've done travel that was lame (by myself in a midwestern industrial town) and great. When I was on a Switzerland project I took my team skiing for the weekend. On one project I let my team fly out to Paris the weekend before kickoff, and their time was theirs to do as they pleased. In Denver we all stayed the weekend and went rock climbing. In smaller cities, I've had teams that liked to do bar trivia nights. And I've eaten with colleagues in literally countless great restaurants (in fairness, a large number of crappy ones as well).

It's all about defining and enforcing personal boundaries. If I'm in a city I've never been in before, I build 4 hours into see the sights. If i'm traveling with folks, we take time out to do something social. Travel is what you make it.

Apr 3, 2016 - 12:39pm
DatesExcelModels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you're getting crushed at the client Monday through Thursday, surely the amount of sight-seeing is very limited though? And you don't have any influence over client demands/your manager's deliverables, so it seems to me that especially at an MBB firm "travel is what you make it" does not hold 100% true.

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Apr 4, 2016 - 10:41am
ke18sb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Speaking for the experience I had at a consulting heavy Bschool, I think a factor is a lot of people go into consulting not realizing how demanding / hard the job is. MBB + others do a great job of preaching this whole work life balance, doing nonprofit side projects, etc. Its very alluring frankly. That said, I don't think the firms did a good job of really screening out who would be able to hack it / really understand what they were getting into vs. who couldn't / did. Frankly they probably don't care or they would have fixed this issue by now. Banking by contrast is very open about the realities of the job. I've seen a lot of classmates leave consulting even before the 2 year mark and those are the ones that I never thought really got what they were getting themselves into in the first place. My hunch is the firms know there will be a high attrition, don't care to some extent because those people go onto roles that then hire the firms, and given that construct hire the people they deem to be the best (both in terms of actually being good as well as being good from a recruiting perspective, which in my opinion happens) regardless of whether they will pan out or not.

So while I totally agree on the travel component that seems to be the broad theme, I think the above is a pretty big factor as well.

Apr 5, 2016 - 8:01am
mtnmmnn, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Apr 4, 2016 - 12:49pm
karl_pilkington, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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