Consultants work very long hours
On average, you will definitely work much longer than your industry peers (unless they are in banking). On a typical Monday to Friday, you will work roughly 12-14h a day, and 6-10h on Friday. Some weeks can get significantly worse, very few weeks will be better. However, in most firms and offices, there is an emphasis to keep weekends free of work. In some cases, it is also a question of picking your battles as it is important to push back on certain to-dos and critical timelines as a team from time to time.
The McKinsey lifestyle is very intense
The work you do will always be held to very high standards while at the same time it needs to be completed in a very short time span. In this environment, teams and leadership always strive to accomplish amazing things. As a result, due to the constant pressure and the quick iterative feedback and working process, you will end up being stressed a lot of the time. Previous experiences from a top university, school, or internship pale in comparison. Additionally, every now and then there is a chance to pick a tough project with an extra demanding client or leadership, a poor scope, a bad team setup, or a travel schedule. Lastly, the risks of ‘up-or-out’ are always in the back of your mind.
Life in top-tier consulting firms is very fast-paced
You will see a lot in a very short timeframe. While this is exciting it can get tiring at some point. You never stay for the party and see your ideas and work grow with the client. Once you have finished a project and have handed it over to the client your team will usually split up and you start working with a new team next Monday. Changing teams and nice clients can get frustrating cause most of them are awesome and it really hurts splitting up after a project. Additionally, things are generally highly unstable and arrangements can change in a heartbeat. It is completely normal to get a call and jump on the next plane to China without any time to prepare. Lastly, you are expected to be constantly available.
You will travel a lot
Some love it, some hate it. As a consultant, you will spend a good 40+ weeks a year on the road. While this lifestyle can be appealing to some, its drawbacks can creep in pretty quickly. Exhausting, early, delayed or long travel can add to the general fatigue, workload, and put extra stress on you. Additionally, if you have a family the downsides are even bigger. If you are single, it can become difficult to meet new people. Weekends are usually packed with activities and before you even notice, you are back on the plane to the client Monday morning or Sunday night.
There are some politics in management consulting
The corporations you consult are usually full of politics that your team needs to maneuver carefully. Politics are often in the way of the best solution for the client, can create extra work for the team, and put tension on the client relationship. This can be immensely frustrating. In the worst case, political games on the board can break your whole project.
The other side of the coin
However, consulting is not all negative. In fact, there are many more upsides which you can read about here.
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