I thought I had it all figured out…until I didn’t.
Graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Electrical Engineering was an ultimate labor of love—an accomplishment that I thought greatly prepared me for a career in management consulting. But that was Plan B. At the time, Plan A was becoming a professional Electrical Engineer.
Getting the diploma was one thing—settling on a career as an Electrical Engineer was totally different. I had worked multiple summers as an engineering intern; learning the ropes, being groomed into a professional engineer. But I also had explored a career in management consulting as a “backup plan.” Very quickly the “backup plan” became not only a viable option but an attractive one.
So, on the eve of getting my diploma, with two job offers in tow, and my dream staring me in the face, I had a difficult decision to make. I turned down that lucrative job offer as a promising professional Electrical Engineer–all for the “bright lights and big cities” that was a career in management consulting. Consulting was the best of both worlds for me. The assurance that I would still use the core engineering skills I spent years developing; math, science, troubleshooting, analytical thinking. But equally as important to me was the opportunity to build business acumen, develop soft skills, and work on teams. With consulting, I satisfied my appetite to have a variety of roles and responsibilities, and the chance for early leadership opportunities.
Equipped with my school pedigree, summer intern experience, and personality, I thought I was destined for the fast track in the management consulting world. Manager in two years. Senior Manager in five years. Partner in seven years. Piece of cake, right? At least that’s how the movie played out in my head.
But on my first day as a “Big Four” management consultant, reality set in. Everyone in my start group had come from prestigious universities with tons of academic honors. Most of them had completed the most sought-after summer internships. Some of them were already entrepreneurs! Everyone was top notch. My expectations were sent into a tailspin like the climatic reveal of an unexpected villain in a mystery movie…dun dun dun!
With consulting, I satisfied my appetite to have a variety of roles and responsibilities, and the chance for early leadership opportunities.