Advice to Incoming Junior Consultants
To the newest junior consultant (the Analyst),
Congratulations! I know you have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, and you should feel proud of yourself. You know what it takes to land a job at a consulting firm: maintain a strong GPA, be proficient in strategy and analytics, outperform your peers in experience, and master case studies. But now that you’re through the door, how do you succeed? This is a question many new analysts ask, and unfortunately a quick search on Google doesn’t provide much help. As someone who has started from your same position, I’ll suggest to you that the first step to your success is not in mastering hard skills—although those will be incredibly important–but in acquiring the necessary mindset and attitude. Below are 6 tips to help you succeed during your first year as an entry-level consultant.
- Practice thinking ahead. Always begin a task or project with the end in mind. When an objective drives your work, you work with purpose and efficiency. You are better-equipped to challenge assumptions and contribute effectively. All too often, tasks are completed for the sake of completing the task. Thus, before you hit the ground running, ensure you understand the governing business objectives. Then, take periodic steps back to think about how your tasks connect to the overarching objective.
- Solicit feedback regularly. The best consultants have an intrinsic desire to constantly improve. When you give others the opportunity to provide you feedback, it opens the door to a safe environment for constructive mentoring and positive reinforcement.
- Interact with co-workers and clients knowing that you are hired for your ideas. Don’t be afraid to speak up or provide solution-oriented push back when an idea comes to mind. Consultants are hired because of their curious nature combined with their aggressive work ethic. Creativity is essential for generating innovative solutions to business problems and producing excellent work.
- Embrace reiteration. Realize that you will discuss, edit, receive feedback, discuss, edit—on a single deliverable, slide, or model—countless times. Don’t become frustrated by it; embrace the process. You and your team should and will constantly be seeking ways to improve your client deliverables in order to over-deliver on expectations.
- Cultivate a passion for continuing education. Have a desire to grow. Most of the best and brightest weren’t just born that way – they are the ones who are always looking for opportunities to learn. Lifelong learning is essential for both personal and professional development. It makes you more valuable, capable, teachable, and yes – promotable.
- Strive for efficiency in all things. Productivity translates into savings—both for the firm and for you, personally. Consulting can be extremely demanding, and If you want a work-life balance, you need to strive for efficiency. This doesn’t mean cutting corners, but means planning, staying organized, and maximizing your available time.
While having the right mentality does not guarantee success, it is a necessary prerequisite. As you embark on your new career, assess where you exhibit—and lack—these qualities to determine your own professional growth opportunities, and then embrace each and every occasion to seize them.
Dan Case is a Principal with Cicero Group and co-leads the firm’s Customer Insight and Analytics practice. Dan has specific expertise in using analytic approaches to empower tangible, data-driven strategies for clients. With over eight years of management consulting and research experience, Dan has been a trusted advisor to senior executives across a range of companies and industries.