As interviews are heating up and the offers start rolling in, you should be taking the time to consider what's really important to you. For some it will be culture, for others it will be prestige, flexibility, or project work.
I know that when I was going through the recruiting process, I cared about all of those things. Flexibility was probably the lowest on my list - I wanted to come in, work hard, do a good job, and then figure out what comes next.I'll be at the two and a half year mark soon - putting me just around the median tenure for a consultant. And what you don't realize as a student - or what you talk yourself into downplaying - is that consulting is hard work, man!
Prepare for some blatant bias here, but one of the things I really appreciate now about Oliver Wyman is the flexibility we get in our jobs. For example, you can take 10- or 11-month years - a formal program to let people easily take a month or two off to study for the GMAT, prepare MBA apps, travel, or just take some time off to unwind.
Another one - which I am taking advantage of right now - is the opportunity to take up to 6 months off to work with a non-profit organization. Oliver Wyman actually supports you financially during that time, which means that you don't have to worry about covering living expenses or rent while you're gone.
So after I hit the two-year mark, I decided to pursue an opportunity with the United Nations to volunteer in the Middle East through U.N. Women. I reached out to our staffing team and within about two weeks, I had official approval to take the rest of the year off.
Turns out I was joining a list of consultants that had worked with cool organizations around the world. In fact, just within the Toronto office, colleagues have worked in Colombia to stop gang-related violence, on the Galapagos Islands with the Darwin Foundation, and in Swaziland with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (among others).
Interested in learning more about the Non-Profit Fellowship Program? Check it out here.
P.S. These programs are awesome, and I encourage you to ask firms you're recruiting with about what they offer, but remember: firms hire you because they want you to work, not because they want you to take time off on their dime :)
Absolutely mention it to consultants or interviewers - especially if you're interested in doing it down the line - but don't go in raving about "how you can't wait to take 6 months off to do volunteer work as soon as you can"!