"Most of What You Will Learn Will Be Learned On the Job"

 

In the short time that I’ve been here I have worked on two different case teams, experienced my first Chick Fil-A -inspired team breakfast, completed countless interviews with industry experts, discussed the idea of getting an office puppy (at least twice), and faced off against co-workers in an Iron Chef-style cooking challenge.

My first case assignment was nothing like I imagined. As my background is in science, I expected that I would allocated to a life sciences or healthcare case. However, on my first day I found out that I would be joining a retail case staffed with a large, international L.E.K team. When I saw the assignment, I had a feeling that I think every new Associate experiences at some point within the first few months of work. The feeling is this: I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know anything about this industry.

On top of this initial discomfort, I began to experience exactly what we were told in training. “Most of what you will learn will be learned on the job.” Despite two weeks of training that reviewed the basics of running an interview campaign and various strategies for conducting secondary research etc., I inevitably ran into questions at almost every turn. Which team members should be included on meeting invites? What are some strategies to source the best contacts? These are a few of the questions I had, almost immediately. Luckily, I had a very large, very supportive team to leverage. On my first case, I got to work closely with an AC (Associate Consultant) who was in New York on swap from London, an A2 (second-year Associate) who had been in my shoes just one year before, and another A1 who was figuring things out day-to-day, just like I was.

Although the first couple of days involved a lot of trouble-shooting, I truly felt like an expert on the topic of my case by the end of the week. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate the uncomfortable feeling that comes with being assigned to a space I have no prior knowledge about. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of work at L.E.K. is that cases are relatively short and fast-paced. As a result, everyone gets the chance to experience different industries and work with many different types of teams. We are all constantly learning. Although that might seem daunting at first, this is a great feeling. Trust me.

A piece of advice I have for someone considering a job in consulting is to think carefully about the type of lifestyle and office culture you are looking for. One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to walk into the office every day and see all of my coworkers, pod-mates, and friends. L.E.K. offers an important level of consistency to my life that I didn’t think was possible to find in a consulting job. The office is my home-base, and as a result, my friends at L.E.K. have been a big part of my life in New York, both in and out of work. We eat lunch together in Bryant Park, teach each other Excel shortcuts, have long debates about the merits of Justin Bieber’s musical talent, and share weekly in our premature excitement for Bagel Friday.

After about two months into my first year as an Associate, I have completed a large diligence on a company in the retail industry and a small strategy case for a biopharmaceutical company. I am excited to learn about my next allocation, but so far my impression is this: the work is exciting, the people are great, and the bagels are delicious.

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