Bad first year experience at tier-2 (big4) strategy consulting firm

applying or not to consulting and chances consulting exit Which firm?
New answer on Jun 05, 2022
5 Answers
386 Views
Anonymous A asked on Jun 02, 2022

Hi, 

I am writing this post to seek advice and assess what went wrong and plan the best next steps to progress in my career. 

Context: Fresh master's graduate with a top-class European school joined strategy consulting at big4 in the Nordics. However, faced challenges that can be put into these boxes- 1. Non-diverse team and being the only international and female cand. 2. Heavy usage of the local language in all problem solving, project-related team discussions, and usual cross-talking 3. Felt like was being watched over constantly and given almost too much feedback making it impossible to improve on the real development areas 

Issue: Poor project review for 1st project ( 1 month after joining) from a 1yr senior colleague seeking promotion after which was counseled to leave or improve fast-track on key focus areas. Closely followed on all 3 projects after with constant critical feedbacks (however not poor), until 5th project (9 months in) with harsh review and finally made to leave. 

Key Questions: 

1. I found my experience harsh and unfair- is this normal in the context of the industry as a whole or a merely a “fit-issue” wrapped in poor performance/skill-set 

2. Should I continue in consulting but at other firms or just change the industry?

3. Given that I am still a fresh graduate, what would be good target firms/ industries to pursue? 

Considering I am staying in the Nordics in the long run due to my family being here and also starting to work on language skills

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 02, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I'm really sorry to hear about your experience.

That said, that is life, and, that is definitely consulting.

There's a reason you're on a pathway to earn $1M+ per year…it's hard and not everyone can do it!

I had a horrible experience my first 10 months. Extremely difficult boss, unsupportive, conflicting feedback, a client in an industry that I knew nothing about etc.

I pushed through, learned, developed. In my subsequent projects I scored perfect marks.

I'm going to be both direct and sympathetic at the same time.

1) You had a lot going against you and it sounded very hard. I know what it's like, so I'm sorry for what must be a bit of broken confidence now.

2) Suck it up. That's the job you decided to join. Consulting is not easy - you have to fight and it is a bit of a jungle! If you try again, you will experience harder (and also better) things.

In terms of your questions:

1. I found my experience harsh and unfair- is this normal in the context of the industry as a whole or a merely a “fit-issue” wrapped in poor performance/skill-set 

Very honestly, it was “harsh” but not unfair. Everyone else around you was going through similar. It is a very hard job.

2. Should I continue in consulting but at other firms or just change the industry?

You should continue in consulting IF you change your mindset. Be ready to fight for yourself and work hard. Take in feedback and improve on it. It will continue to be overwhelming and it will continue to be hard…this is not unique to your situation.

3. Given that I am still a fresh graduate, what would be good target firms/ industries to pursue? 

This hinges on questions #2. One thing I will say is: I have no idea how you survived so long in not your native language!

If you apply again, please apply in a country where you speak the language truly fluently/natively.

The job is hard enough, let alone when you are also taxing your brain in a non-natural language for you!

Was this answer helpful?
Jamie replied on Jun 02, 2022
Former Tier 2, now MBB in Dubai. Here to chill :)

Hey,

That is quite unfortunate, I'm sorry you went through this situation.

As someone that is a current MBB manager, I dont think your experience is something I would consider normal.

As you said you had your first review 1 month after joining, which tells me either you were rolled off the project quite early on or the project itself was fairly short. In my experience staffing my cases, I dont expect much from someone that is a fresh graduated doing their first project. I would expect a great attitude and commitment but in terms of quality of the work I would be reserve in my expectations. Indeed a lot of firms take this into account and they would even offer new joiners for “free” so managers wont avoid staffing beginners. So your story reveals a weak culture and weak leaders.

Now, if consulting is something you should continue to pursue or not, this is a question only you will be able to answer. Even if this particular situation didnt occur, consulting is intrinsically a tough job with high expectations - only you can determine if the benefits outpace the costs.

I would recommend before you make the decision, that you re-assess your experience, understand (in a very pragmatic way) what were the areas for development that were highlighted and ensure that you address them (or at least have a plan to address them) before joining another firm.

Best of luck

Was this answer helpful?
13
Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 02, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

Sorry to hear about your experience getting started. It's sounds familiar and it's something most new joiners go through. 

It's a bit difficult to give you any direction, since I don't know exactly what the nature of the feedback your received was. Most likely there is not one single answer. In short, it sounds like the reason why you were asked to leave were a combination of performance and bad luck. The latter, unfortunately, you cannot control, whereas the former you can with the right practice, consistency and guidance. 

The real question for you is whether you actually enjoyed the work? If you did, then you probably belong doing the job and it's just a matter of improving on your skills and reapplying to join a different firm. If you didn't, then it's time to look for something else. Reflect on the jobs that represent an area of overlap between what you're good at and what you're passionate about. Alternatively, consider discussing with a professional career councillor (you could reach out to the one at your university). 

Hope you find this helpful! Sorry again to hear you had a rough start. The important thing now is to find the strength to grow out of this experience. It's not the past that defines us, but what we choose to do every new day. 

Best,

Cristian

Was this answer helpful?
Lucie
Expert
updated an answer on Jun 03, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

Consulting is a very hard industry (extremally competitive, pushing your limits…) and it can be tough, even more for someone without working experience. I often think it, how lucky I am that I have started as an experienced hire. hence your feeling is absolutely OK and it is legitim to use this moment to think what is the best way forward for you. 

 

Even if you had an unpleasant experience with consulting with this particular firm, it can still turn you may enjoy consulting by knowing more about how it works, or you may hate it… but there are so many other fun options to choose from. 

 

Frankly, it is quite hard to know what can be the best move for you without knowing you, hence if you want to connect with me, I am happy to have a quick free chat with you to understand better your context and share my view. 

Good luck,

Lucie

Was this answer helpful?

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 05, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Sounds very tough. I feel for you.

Just because you are not having a good time in this particular firm, doesn't mean you cant be successful somewhere else. Most people dont look for mutual FIT (values, role aspirations, risk etc) and get into jobs for all the wrong reasons- brand, $$, peer pressure etc.

I am sure you have learnt a lot from this experience. So, please pay attention to how you feel about being in Consulting and make future moves from there. Its a rewarding career to be in, but not an easy one at the same time. 

Have a look at this article for more guidance- https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-do-i-know-which-career-is-right-for-me

All the best!

Was this answer helpful?
Ian gave the best answer

Ian

Content Creator
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
723
Meetings
50,972
Q&A Upvotes
143
Awards
5.0
94 Reviews