Q: I am interested in pursuing a management consulting career, but am unsure how to go about it. As a second year law associate in a large Boston law firm, I feel my talents would be better utilized in a consulting role. I enjoy working with a variety of people on high energy projects. As such, the drudgery of brief writing and research is sucking the life out of me. I need a strategy for ferreting out those consulting firms who would be interested in a change-in-career attorney.
A: It's always beneficial to recognize your strengths and what you're most interested in doing as far as a career. The next step is to take this realization and have it serve as an impetus for a successful career change. I would recommend joining national and especially local professional organizations related to management consulting. Start attending meetings and consider becoming an active member. This will immediately put you in touch with those working in the field. It is from these contacts that you can start to learn how to best transition the management consulting field.
In addition, you'll want to tap into the personal network you've already established for possible contacts in the management consulting field. For example, talk with all the service providers that you have contact with (doctor, lawyer, banker, real estate agent, insurance agent, clergy, hair stylist, etc), whose business puts them in touch with people in many occupations. Ask them if they know someone in management consulting that you might speak with (don't forget to also check with family, friends, co-workers/employers (past/present), instructors, and classmates).
As you gain names of people you'll be ready to do what we call Information Interviews, simply sitting down with people, doing what you'd like to be doing, and asking whatever questions you might have. You definitely want to prepare for these interviews by doing some research first. Books such as the following could provide some basic information from which you can expand from in your interviews.
- Management Consulting: A Complete Guide to the Industry by S. Biswaj and D. Twitchell, (Wiley, 1999).
- The Harvard Business School Guide to Career in Management Consulting 2001, (Harvard Business Reference. 2001).
Two excellent resources on networking are:
- Networking for Everyone: Connecting with People for Career & Job Success by M. Tullier, (Jist Works, 1998).
- The New Network Your Way to Job and Career Success by R. Krannich & C. Krannich, (Impact, 1993).
Your inquiries and networking will serve a dual purpose; educating you in the management consulting business while also making potential employers aware of you, your talents, and your interest in transitioning into their field. This can help ensure that you are aware of employment opportunities that arise and that your resume stands out from a potentially crowded field of applicants. Regardless of whether you find employment as a result of your research; the information you gather will help identify potential missteps. Finally, your research will help prepare you to successfully negotiate salary and terms of employment.