Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Right Age to Begin Consulting

If you want to win the Masters one day and you can read this, you are probably too late.

It's a decade-long commitment to becoming a doctor after college and, well, most will begin that commitment in their early 20s.

While you may not stay in the same company while doing it, climbing the corporate ladder to the top takes a similar level of commitment, as well as one or more big jumps usually supported by a mentor in the organization.

Granted, some fields are more forgiving of later commitments and less competitive than these. Consulting is one of them.

Actually, to make it to the top in consulting, you may want to consider NOT starting your career in it. While fresh faces out of college joining the big consultancies or the boutiques can be a powerful strategy, so can spending time in industry - in positions not only doing the work you will be consulting in, but also in positions hiring consultants doing that work. This way, you will learn to understand the pressures, the politics and the budgetary issues involved. These can be invaluable skills when you are on the other side of the relationship.

This is the consulting equivalent of hiring a former IRS agent to help you in your disputes with the IRS.

Then again, whether you want to take consutling to the top or not is not really the career question is it? The question is whether it is the best path for you now. Your consulting goals are not burdened if it's not the first stop in your career.

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