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Which One is Better: Working in Consulting or Industry?

If you’re thinking you really aren’t cut out to be a consultant, or if you’re exploring other options, you might find this section helpful. We’ve tried to compare careers in consulting with their counterparts in industry. Although many graduates of top universities and graduate programs choose careers in the more glamorous consulting industry, most find work elsewhere.

Given the seductive pull of the glitzy presentations consulting firms give, chances are good that even if you’re thinking about a career in industry, the consulting world might tempt you. To help you understand more about the difference, below is a summary of representative differences between the two option:

Company or Industry:

  • Work primarily with the same group of people
  • More direct involvement with a product
  • Make management decisions
  • Deal with a wide range of people and have a direct impact on their daily lives
  • Challenges revolve around getting things done, motivating people, dealing with personnel issues, making operating decisions
  • Satisfaction from making product change
  • Learn from a mentor with years of industry or functional experience
  • With a good education and ambition, you might really stand out
  • Your reputation and connections develop during months and years
  • Compensation packages generally lower, but you might get stock options

Consulting Firm:

  • Project teams, colleagues, and clients change every few months
  • Arm’s-length involvement with client’s products
  • Suggest management decisions
  • Deal mostly with senior and mid-level managers; have a large impact on regular people, but from a distance
  • Challenges revolve around tackling and understanding complex problems and teaching clients to deal with them
  • Satisfaction from affecting organization and competitiveness
  • Learn from a mentor who is closer in age to you and who has consulting experience
  • With the most extraordinary accomplishments, you’ll just be equal to everybody else
  • Have to make quick impressions, then move on

Compensation and perks more attractive

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