Heading out of the assessment centre, I wasn’t sure if I had made it into the program. I had heard so many stories about each of my friend’s experiences with the Industry Placement Program (IPP), but it didn’t mean I was sure that I had received a place.
Now, I'm two weeks into the placement, working in a professional services role for the very first time with one of the big four and I’ve learnt so much. From email etiquette to shared expectations in procurement, this is only the start of something big. To give you a brief insight, I’m working in general operations in management consulting.
The aim of this blog post is to pass down some advice I’ve attained thus far from networking with associates, directors and even partners. This is how to start off on the right foot:
Feedback is key
What do your superiors look for in aspiring talent? Feedback. They want you to ask for feedback because it shows that you’re actively engaged in delivering a quality piece of work. So make sure to submit work for feedback a couple of times before the deadline
In an ultimately hierarchically structured organisation like the one of the Big 4, it’s important not only to talk to associates who are working around you, but to also engage with managers, directors and possibly partners. Don’t go around trying to make friends with everyone though; as 5-6 strong relationships (held face-to-face, not via email or LinkedIn) will stand well in to the future. Get to know directors from industries you’re interested in and show them that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to pursue your career goal
Managing the exit
What didn’t really occur to me, especially at a junior level, is that you’re going to be pulled from one job to another as a consultant, and it’s up to you, not your new manager, to talk to your existing team about ‘rolling off’ onto a new project smoothly.
Assurance, consulting and private clients. 3 different service lines a Big 4 would cover, but oh man are they different. So, as you know, I don’t work in assurance or private clients, but I was shocked when I came to consulting. The nature of consulting means you get placed on a project like that. It’s 12am in the morning, you’re about to start with a new client tomorrow, but then boom! Partner emails you and lets you know you’re no longer needed. Or, similarly, you finished with a client on Friday after months of work, Monday morning you come in and again boom! You’ve got a new client you need to start working for in less than two hours. The key here is to understand what is and what isn’t required from you in your role as soon as possible.
I’m sure you’ve heard, or I hope you’ve heard of the elevator pitch. When you step into that partner’s office and they ask you, “So tell me a bit about yourself”, you’ve got to sell yourself without making it seem to desperate. Personal branding in consulting is extremely important because the work that you’re allocated to is based upon the people you know, and whether those people know that you have the right specialisation to get it done. Making sure that people know what you’re good at was something I absolutely underestimated.
I only have a short note on this. Don’t get caught up in it. You may not even realise it’s happening to you. It kind of goes like this… you need to find a way to please everyone. Yes, at the end of the day, not everyone is going to like you, but you better make sure you don’t accidentally say yes to one person, without realising you may upset another.
Overall, my experience with the firm has been great, and the challenge of completing full time university at the same time is definitely starting to get to me. My firm loves the term ‘work-life balance’, and I guess I’m going to have to find a way to make that happen with everything happening around me.
Thanks for reading!
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School
Interested in doing a local Industry Placement? Find out more at an upcoming info session: http://bit.ly/2mAM8ff