I’m writing this post at 11pm on Monday 5th December, in hopes that I would keep to my fortnightly goal. Unfortunately this post is going to be more detailed than most so it won’t be completed on time. I am also concurrently planning and writing several other posts whilst they are fresh in my mind.
You might be thinking ‘this goal setting thing doesn’t seem to be working’ but it is, at least, making me accountable to myself. I may not be completing my goal each fortnight, but I am able to measure each time and I am (hopefully) gradually improving my commitment and planning…
You do what? Never have a typical day
Before I started working on a management consulting graduate scheme, I would constantly ask recruiters what the job would actually be like – hence my desire to create this blog. Their answers were often too vague to be useful and when I tried to re-frame the question to, “what do graduates do all day?” 9 times out of 10 the response was:
There is no typical day for a graduate management consultant.
This answer always intrigued me, and I never quite believed it – but it’s true. What’s more, it is my favourite thing about the job. So, flying completely in the face of the above statement, I shall now attempt to describe a typical day for those who are so intrigued as I once was. If I have time, I will try to write a few examples of the different sorts of days encountered by a typical graduate management consultant.
I will try to periodically update this post with examples of different ‘typical days’ as one example rally doesn’t do the variety of the job justice. Please leave comments if there are specific details you wish to read about, and I’ll do my best!
DAY 1 – WORKING ON A CLIENT PROJECT
Wake up and try to leave the house at a decent time so that the trains aren’t too busy and I make it to the client’s office nice and early.
Arrive at the client offices and greet the team – a mixture of my own colleagues and the client team members. Take a moment to scan through any new emails – mostly news – check my calendar for the day, and prepare for my first meeting.
Attend the first meeting of the day – a daily ‘stand-up’ (so-called because it’s meant to be so quick you can stay standing. It often takes half an hour…). We use these daily meetings when we are approaching critical stages of the project. It is a chance for the entire team to check-in with each other and ask for help from other team members, if they so require. Often, a graduate will take notes (called minutes).
I will now write up and send out the meeting minutes, or review the minutes for a junior member of the team. They key here is to include ‘actions’ (specific actions for team members to take) assigned to specific team members. This ensures that all the outcomes from the meeting have someone responsible for them.
This is when the ‘real work’ starts. Often, graduates attend meetings and take more minutes. If you’re lucky enough not to have any meetings scheduled, this time might be spent creating presentations for upcoming client meetings or performing data analysis, for example.
I often try to grab an early lunch as most client’s canteens struggle with the lunchtime rush-hour. On a busy day, we’ll eat at our desks, but we try to sit down and take a break when from staring at keyboards and screens when we can.
The unproductive slump. Post-lunch tiredness can kick in now and is either fended off by a well-timed coffee or an impending deadline – either will work! I’ll often try to use this time to put some energy into any non-core activities I’m currently taking part in. For example, I’ve recently been helping develop training materials for a course we will be running internally in the new year.
This is one of the most variable parts of my day – sometimes it is filled with back-to-back meetings, and sometimes it is a blank canvas (of time) for me to manage. Some of the things you might find me doing:
- Performing data analysis in order to present accurate figures in a client meeting
- Chasing up contacts from Finance to keep the project on budget
- Building a data & analytics dashboard
- Calling/emailing managers if I need guidance, support or information in order to complete my work
- Replying to emails from the day, adding tasks to my to-do list and planning my time
When on client site, there is often a push to ensure certain pieces of work or important emails, are complete before the client clocks off – which is normally at about 4:55pm! But this is rarely the end of our day.
It’s not often that all our work is done by this point, but even when you think it is, it doesn’t give a great impression to leave before the client (they are often paying quite a large amount for our services!). This may seem pointless, but in reality there is always something to help the team with.
Depending on where the client site is located, this hour or so is normally earmarked for the commute home. It’s actually quite nice to travel a bit later and avoid rush hour. I try to make sure I don’t work at home during the evenings unless it’s absolutely necessary, but sometimes finishing some work on the train can help pass the time.