Reader FAQ — weekend getaway flights, new hire jitters, and the LinkedIn labyrinth

While the majority of questions we get from our readers are about breaking into consulting, a good portion of them are from new hires looking for guidance in their first 3 months on the job. We’ve seen questions on everything from what happens at orientation to what is appropriate attire for the first day (including attached images of the emailer’s planned wardrobe!). A lot of these questions will be covered in our Three Month Mastery ebook coming out in the next few weeks.

In this reader FAQ, we decided to share a few questions from new hires. It’s perfect timing for those of you who completed interviews in the fall and received offers to start later this year. We cover rules for weekend flights, where to work when you’re team is split between office locations, why you shouldn’t add clients you’ve met as connections on LinkedIn (and when it is okay), and a little bit about our expertise in helping candidates apply for and secure consulting positions in specialized consulting firms or business segments.

As always, if you have a question you’d like to ask our MC experts, email us! If we post the Q&A on our website, your anonymity is assured.

Q:  I’m new to management consulting (just started this past summer). Went through training with my company X and about to start on an engagement in Cleveland, OH. I’m located in California.

The client is flying me out every week Monday-Thursday and putting me up (obviously). I book my flights through my company’s travel site and charge it to my corporate card.

Since I’m young and just starting out (22) I was wondering if you can get in trouble if you switch the flight and don’t return home for a weekend, and go to say, NYC. Would the company be able to see this and/or do something about it?  I would be willing to pay the difference but most of the time they book the expensive flight anyways so there is no difference.

A:  First of all, congrats on starting out — hope you’re having a blast and absolutely killing it in your first few weeks on the job.

When I was at Bain, alternates were allowed.  I was able to do New York, Paris, London, etc. on an assignment between Atlanta and Mississippi by booking non-refundable tickets instead of first class like we normally did. The key was keeping pricing under the value of the standard ticket. We also didn’t itemize expenses to the client – they were billed a fixed % of project costs, not direct costs.

The key for me? I watched others just slightly senior and observed what they did to see what was in-bounds before venturing out on my own. The first time you book an alternate location, make sure you get approval from a supervisor and ensure you don’t miss a team meeting in office. And don’t go too heavy on the fun right away – prove you’re a top performer first and don’t distract from that image. You have many years of fully-funded travel ahead of you.

Q:  Thanks to your interview prep services, I’ll be starting with BAH in a few weeks. I’m not sure what the dynamics are in terms of where my boss will be – I mean, obviously if I’m going to go to a client site, then I’m going to be there. But if there is something that I’m going to be working on that is not based on, or is not particularly based anywhere, does the same rule apply in terms of working out of a specific office?  Should I try to find the office that my boss is at and be there? Should I try and find the office where most of the people are and work there?What would your thoughts be in terms of that?


A:  That’s an awesome question. It might be one that would even be worth asking once you’ve been staffed on your first case, and it’s maybe a week or so in. But in general, your overall job in the first three months is to make them comfortable with you. Make yourself demonstrated as a valuable resource. You’re 100 percent not going to working from a remote location where no one else is. If it happens to be split–maybe you have some members of your team that are working in one office and your boss is managing the team that’s working at another one–work with the person who is directly responsible for your performance.

Q:  I am at a management consulting firm in Boston and I wonder what your advice is regarding adding clients that I have met in person as connections on LinkedIn. I don’t think it’s a confidentiality problem since I’m not saying whether our company has worked with them, but it may be a political risk if my bosses think I’m trying to get employment elsewhere, etc. Thoughts?

A:  Congrats on your role at the MC firm! This is something I’ve never addressed before, so I’m not sure if my answer should be considered universal truth. As such, I’ll support my answer like a true consultant.
I’d recommend against adding clients on LinkedIn for the following 3 reasons –
1.  The clients might think you are planning an exit from the consulting firm – which might make them feel unstable about the relationship you have with their company, or question that you’re a happy employee.
2.  Your supervisors (who could also be connected with you) may see you’re connecting with client contacts – and may question your loyalty to the consulting firm.
3.  Your network won’t be made or unraveled based on the immediate connection with the client – and you can always connect with them when you’ve announced you’re leaving, or later.  If the relationship is strong enough, they’ll remember you at that point too, so nothing will be lost.

However, as a caveat, if a client contact initiates connection with you on LinkedIn, you can feel free to accept.

Q:  I’ve been following your firm for a few months now and truly have you to thank for helping me secure a great position at a boutique healthcare consulting firm. My question for you is, what experience do you have in helping candidates apply for and secure consulting positions in specialized consulting firms or business segments? My passion is for healthcare and I’m reaching out to you for feedback as to next steps for getting into a large healthcare consulting firm. 

A:  Congrats on your role at the boutique consulting firm. You’re lucky — your passion is for healthcare, and it’s the fastest-growing consulting segment out there.

I have a ton of experience in helping people lateral or cross over between firms — many of my clients are currently in consulting and interested in breaking into other specific firms. However, because everyone’s story and needs are different, I end up tailoring my advice based on individual situations. I work with folks one-on-one (30 minutes, 1 hour, or 4/10 hour packages) or inside combo packages that include resume/cover letter editing too. When we talk, I ask you to come with 8-10 questions per hour for us to cover. Check out our services here.

Filed Under: life as a consultant