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Consultant: What I do and how much I make

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I'm Tracy Koczela, I'm 24 years old. I'm an associate at a management consulting firm and I make $89,000 a year. Various clients need help solving business problems and sometimes they have talent internally and sometimes they need an outside perspective. I was in our health care practice, and so I focus on any sort of health care company, but specifically I tend to work for large insurance companies. In health care, costs are getting so, so expensive and so health insurance companies are trying to figure out how they can reduce some of the administrative costs of processing your insurance claims, and your bills, and everything. So my team was engaged, it was called an operations project. We were in their back office function looking at their claims, their call center, how they enroll their members and then how they have all the data and analytics to support all of this. My team actually went to these different sites across the US. So we were in very rural towns and sat with these people, processing claims all day, or taking phone calls all day to figure out how can we make this task a little bit more efficient. Most of my day is spent in either Excel or PowerPoint making slides or making some sort of Excel model. And then I'll also help conduct interviews, take notes, I have to summarize those, and report that out to the leadership of my team and then the client leadership. I also end up making a lot of restaurant reservations and figuring out where we're going for lunch, 'cause we're always on the road. Generally the junior person on the team is responsible for that kind of stuff. I, for a really long project, queened myself the chair of the fun committee and planned a boating outing in Chicago and we had weekly Soul Cycle spin classes in the morning before work. I wanted to do it so I organized it and was able to get budget to pay for it. Consulting requires that you can work anywhere, and so we're not given desktop computers. We have laptops. I've been known to pull it out at a dinner table at a restaurant, waiting for my plane that's delayed, sitting outside. It is kinda nice we can work really anywhere. We have hotspots that give us internet so we can work at the client's site, at the hotel, in cramped spaces we'll fit a lot of team members into a small room at the client's site. Definitely have squeezed into in airplane like this trying to type on my computer. So you're constantly working and one of the perks is that you do have a phone that's paid for by the firm, but that means they can track you down and you're always getting emails and you're kind of expected to be sort of responsive to emails on the weekends. Sometimes there is weekend work which means that if I have to travel that weekend I have to bring my computer with me, but there are benefits to that as well. If I want to go see my parents instead of flying back to New York on a Thursday night, I can fly to DC and work from their house on Fridays. I've worked all over the place. All I need is my computer and my hotspot. Some of the things that I love about my job, I'd say first and foremost are the people. I started with a start class of about 20 to 30 people and some of them will be my friends for life. We definitely have a lot of fun at work when we're on client projects together or on Fridays or weekends when we're hanging out. But in terms of the work, I like the constant change. There's always some new problem to solve, always a new client that you want to engage with and what's really rewarding is presenting your analysis to the CIO of a Fortune 200 company and him agreeing with you. And there's, as a 24-year-old, to be across the table from this guy who's been in industry for years and being able to have a conversation and connect with him and present your work is incredibly, incredibly rewarding. Another thing that I really love about my job is being able to see how different clients work and being able to compare how they operate, That's why a lot of people from consulting end up starting their own company, because they can apply these lessons learned in best practices and say, "I'm not gonna do that," or, "I really like this initiative, "I'm gonna start that at my own company." The most difficult thing is definitely traveling. I would say it would be nice to just hit pause for a second and take a step back and that's why we have a good vacation policy and sabbatical policy. But it definitely gets to you every Sunday night when you have a six a.m. flight and you can't go to so-and-so's party on Monday. It does take a little bit of a toll on your personal life. You're putting work first.
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