As someone who enjoys stability and routine, it may seem strange that I chose to join an industry where the answers always seem to fall along the lines of ‘it depends.’ While the consulting industry offers so many opportunities for learning and personal growth, it also bears some challenges.
When beginning a new project, you don’t know what you don’t know. You can read project documentation and take training modules, but at the end of the day most projects are not going to make complete sense until you are thrown in and participating in the daily work. Go to meetings just to listen and take things in. Make a list of all of your questions to review with your manager at the end of the day. Instead of beating yourself up about a mistake, use your mistakes as opportunities to learn.
Another challenge I have faced in my first 6 months of working with clients is gaining client trust. At age 23, it is hard to portray yourself as an expert of a particular technology. I have found that coming to workshops prepared and with your work triple-checked for accuracy goes miles in convincing your client that they can trust your opinion. Try to brainstorm potential client questions before a session to make sure you can address these questions properly. Be confident in what you know. Confidence helps others see you as someone they can trust. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your client questions on their preferences so that you are able to present information in a way that is relevant to them and easy for them to take in.
Overall, the greatest challenge I have faced in this industry is the travel portion. I chose a job within consulting because I love to travel, but I quickly learned that work travel is a little different than personal travel. Flights are constantly delayed and hotel rooms away from loved ones can quickly become lonely. Personally, I have found that creating a daily routine while traveling helps me to create a sense of home away from home. Plan team outings to somewhere fun within your new city to get to know your team members outside of the workplace. Get to know the hotel employees and servers at your favorite restaurants to have a family away from home. Call home to keep in touch with those you are away from for half of the week. And most importantly, sign up for every rewards program and points challenge you can find!