After 70 weeks, 14 Cities, 5 States and 2 Countries, I have drawn just 1 major conclusion: There aren’t many constants within this industry, this company and this lifestyle. Behind that conclusion and all of its complexities, however, lies an invaluable lesson that they didn’t teach us in Managerial Accounting or Macroeconomics. Now before I go any further, I realize that we are all subject to daily quotes, life lessons and other forms of drivel artfully disguised as text. I ask that you consider the distinct commonalities that we share; it’s these commonalities that make internal resources such as this blog more valuable than the quotes on your Facebook newsfeed. Consider that I am new just like you, young just like you and I am trying to make a splash just like you. It is our relevant position in life and in this company that leads us to this blog. So with that in mind, what is the hidden lesson behind the consulting mayhem? In short, it’s the importance of flexibility.
By definition, being flexible is being able and willing to modify or adapt. It’s the aptitude to bend that ultimately ensures something doesn’t break. For athletes, we know that flexibility is often what keeps them physically healthy. Staying flexible allows them to perform at a high level without any serious repercussions. But what about for consultants? We all learn very quickly that no two days are the same and that every opportunity is entirely different. Staying flexible will make all of the difference going forward. Take a step back and consider how many people you have met here. Think about how many new places you have been since you started. Without the fluctuations and rapid changes, you would have never met those folks and you would have never traveled to those places.
When I left industry to join Capgemini, I knew that I was leaving behind the nine to five lifestyle. Thus far, my experience with Capgemini has been the antithesis of consistent (refer to my opening sentence). Between the travel, the training and my first few projects, things have come and gone quicker than a middle school summer. It is for those very reasons that I like this job more and more. When I began, I was brought on as an SAP functional consultant with a finance background. What did I do on my first project? I worked with an Oracle product as a data analyst. At the end of the day, however, I was doing my job and helping the client while learning and expanding my resume.
But is this positive state of mind really that simple to achieve? Absolutely not. The vast majority of recent grads and young professionals have to assimilate to the newly acquired lifestyle; goodbye college freedom and hello full-time responsibility. For me, that meant no more late Thursday nights. It meant wearing something other than sweatpants during the day. These are the harsh realities to which most can relate. As a recent college grad working at Capegmini, however, we face those same realities with a healthy dose of inconsistency. To avoid being overwhelmed and to uphold the ability to remain flexible, here are the five rules that I try and live by:
- Just say yes because no experience is a waste of time
- Don’t become too attached to a routine
- Make the sacrifices today so you don’t have to tomorrow
- Set tangible goals for today, this week, this month and this year
Ask questions, ask questions and then ask some questions
When it’s all said and done, the more we experience, the more our personal portfolio grows. Do some data work. Be a functional analyst. Try a PMO role and see what you think. Get involved with a proposal. Consulting is not a “one size fits all” gig. If we learn to embrace it, we are bound to find what suits us best. Stay flexible and we’ll all be just fine.