Around this time 10 years ago while finishing up my Masters, I signed the job offer to start a career in consulting. On reflecting back, the first thing that comes to my mind is how little I knew of what I was signing up for! Since then, it’s been a period of many highs and lows, including a decision to leave consulting to fit personal priorities and joining back again when the time was right.
Here are 10 things that I would tweet to my younger self signing that offer letter. Some of this is borrowed wisdom, some are things I learnt the hard way, while some are my own perspectives that got reinforced along this journey.
1. Expect steep climb: First few years will require lot of learning in a short window – it will ease later on.
2. Be a sponge: Don’t be choosy with projects, pick what you get. Form informed hard preferences after couple of years.
3. Is networking oversold? Yes. Is networking overrated? No. Be genuine, be yourself, start with people who inspire.
4. How to network? Your first project team is your network. Align on expectations and deliver, then branch out.
5. Then what? Invest 2-3 relationships at your and at levels above/below who you can ask any help any time of the day.
6. Learn to lead: Roles won’t have job description, direction will be scarce. If you see a problem you can fix, fix it.
7. Learn who to follow: You will meet those who lead by authority, others who lead by permission. Guess who to follow?
8. Be prepared to rediscover yourself: Battle between being yourself and adapting to consulting is normal. Give it time.
9. You will want to quit: Tough clients, long travel etc. will wear you. Best learnings will happen on worst projects.
10. But quit right: Personal life will take a toll. Periodically assess personal priorities so you know when to quit.