Jump to content

Federal Consulting - Pros and Cons


Recommended Posts

16 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

A lot of people have been asking me about their thoughts regarding Federal Consulting (Deloitte being the big hitter) after graduate school. Before I give my thoughts, I wanted to give everyone a chance to provide some input. @tacos95

Since the board seems to be quiet, I'll start.

Background, I interviewed extensively for Public Sector consulting + have lots of friends who are in it. I personally ended up choosing against it and went with tech space instead.

Pros (in no particular order):

a. One of the higher paying public sector facing jobs out there (possibly only second to lobbying). You should be making around 6 figures (or at least very close to) for these jobs.

b. Compared to commercial consulting, great hours (roughly 8AM to 5PM) and little to no travel

c. Terrific exit opportunities, both with continuing public sector and private sector opportunities.

d. Relative job stability: As we see now, while commercial sector is doing layoffs and "performance based terminations" Federal consulting its so far rather stable, if not safe.

e. You honestly can have a outsized level of impact in defining the role of government

Cons (in no particular order):

a. Increasingly Federal Consulting is more staff augmentation given how objectively speaking, the current administration is leaving many Federal roles unfilled. Staff aug generally speaking is relatively not as career developing/challenging. 

b. Limited project flexibility as Federal consulting project lifespans can go on for years and the expectation is that people stay on them for at least a year (plenty of exceptions abound). That means if you are stuck on a project you don't like, well you are stuck on it for a while. There also isn't much of a high tempo on learning new things. 

c. Federal government can be painfully slow and simplistic. There are lots of stories of consultants doing waiting for the gears of government to turn or doing simple things such as managing client emails since progress is held up by bureaucracy. 

d. Changes in policy can mean that all previous work can be made meaningless if the initiative is in conflict to new policy. I actually know lot of people that transitioned to commercial consulting after they saw 2 years of their life end up in smoke because a policy change made their work meaningless. 

e. Rigid firm organization --> having been described as more rigid than the military or Catholic Church. By rigid, I mean limited ability to drive your own career on your own in terms of choosing your projects, your project areas, and etc. It is more top down driven than individual exploration in an open talent market (which tends to be more so in commercial consulting).

f. Expectations on regular (multiple times a week) team socialization --> Interestingly, the #1 compliant I have been informed about Federal consulting is the expectation to partake in "mandatory fun", which usually involves going to some establishment that involves alcohol. Unlike commercial consulting where team mandatory fun can only realistically happen a few times a month or so due to work tempo,Federal consulting has better hours making more opportunities to gather for happy hours at around 6PM or so. However, people have reported that they find the regular bar/restaurant events exhausting and unhealthy as alcohol is readily made available (although no one has ever been pressured to drink, it becomes the natural thing to do). I want to highlight that there is some variation in this among firms, but regular drinking activities does tend to be trending at a lot of the bigger Federal Consulting firms.

g. Golden Handcuffs - difficulty to exit due to the lure of tuition repayment and annual bonuses. People legitimately often live a lifestyle that they can't afford outside of Federal Consulting paycheck. Exit opportunities with Federal consulting generally mean a dip in salary in the short run (all comp included --> salary + bonus + in kind cost savings such as extensive free meals + benefits). 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2020 at 2:36 PM, GradSchoolGrad said:

Since the board seems to be quiet, I'll start.

Background, I interviewed extensively for Public Sector consulting + have lots of friends who are in it. I personally ended up choosing against it and went with tech space instead.

Pros (in no particular order):

a. One of the higher paying public sector facing jobs out there (possibly only second to lobbying). You should be making around 6 figures (or at least very close to) for these jobs.

b. Compared to commercial consulting, great hours (roughly 8AM to 5PM) and little to no travel

c. Terrific exit opportunities, both with continuing public sector and private sector opportunities.

d. Relative job stability: As we see now, while commercial sector is doing layoffs and "performance based terminations" Federal consulting its so far rather stable, if not safe.

e. You honestly can have a outsized level of impact in defining the role of government

Cons (in no particular order):

a. Increasingly Federal Consulting is more staff augmentation given how objectively speaking, the current administration is leaving many Federal roles unfilled. Staff aug generally speaking is relatively not as career developing/challenging. 

b. Limited project flexibility as Federal consulting project lifespans can go on for years and the expectation is that people stay on them for at least a year (plenty of exceptions abound). That means if you are stuck on a project you don't like, well you are stuck on it for a while. There also isn't much of a high tempo on learning new things. 

c. Federal government can be painfully slow and simplistic. There are lots of stories of consultants doing waiting for the gears of government to turn or doing simple things such as managing client emails since progress is held up by bureaucracy. 

d. Changes in policy can mean that all previous work can be made meaningless if the initiative is in conflict to new policy. I actually know lot of people that transitioned to commercial consulting after they saw 2 years of their life end up in smoke because a policy change made their work meaningless. 

e. Rigid firm organization --> having been described as more rigid than the military or Catholic Church. By rigid, I mean limited ability to drive your own career on your own in terms of choosing your projects, your project areas, and etc. It is more top down driven than individual exploration in an open talent market (which tends to be more so in commercial consulting).

f. Expectations on regular (multiple times a week) team socialization --> Interestingly, the #1 compliant I have been informed about Federal consulting is the expectation to partake in "mandatory fun", which usually involves going to some establishment that involves alcohol. Unlike commercial consulting where team mandatory fun can only realistically happen a few times a month or so due to work tempo,Federal consulting has better hours making more opportunities to gather for happy hours at around 6PM or so. However, people have reported that they find the regular bar/restaurant events exhausting and unhealthy as alcohol is readily made available (although no one has ever been pressured to drink, it becomes the natural thing to do). I want to highlight that there is some variation in this among firms, but regular drinking activities does tend to be trending at a lot of the bigger Federal Consulting firms.

g. Golden Handcuffs - difficulty to exit due to the lure of tuition repayment and annual bonuses. People legitimately often live a lifestyle that they can't afford outside of Federal Consulting paycheck. Exit opportunities with Federal consulting generally mean a dip in salary in the short run (all comp included --> salary + bonus + in kind cost savings such as extensive free meals + benefits). 

@EveningLeaves

To answer your questions.

1. Exit opportunities from Federal Consulting generally land in these three areas

a.. Transition to Private sector that does business with Federal government a lot (example - Adobe cloud sales team to Government)

b. Transition to Private sector tangentially related to Federal Consuling role (example - user experience person does customer experience at Hilton)

c. Transition to Public sector as a contractor or senior level career government official (higher end GS or special pay grades)

2. Its funny that you ask me about stress of Federal Consulting vs. Big Law. I would say the sources of stress can be different.

a. In Big Law the stress is how you sometimes have multiple masters as an associate (multiple partners want things from you), making you work 90 hours a week on terrible work weeks. Also there are plenty of deadlines. Granted firms vary greatly, but generally speaking, you are too busy for the daily drama of things.

b. In Federal Consulting the stress is generally focused on 3 areas.

i. The drama. Because the hours are relatively relaxed + with lots and lots of opportunities for socializing --> there is a fair amount of intra-work drama that happens due to team dynamics + social events

ii. The waiting on your client to do something (not their fault, but waiting on the gears of government to turn) to see if what you done for XYZ months/years with millions/billions of dollars Is a failure or not

iii. FOMO on networking opportunities 

3. As for me, I went to the tech space. Not a common MPP route, but I was able to do it because someone took a chance on me to let me work in a big tech company and I was able to turn that a experience around to greater career opportunities that are tangentially policy related. 

That being said, Tik Tok has been on a hiring spree of MPPs, but I WOULD NOT take that job because of all the negative perceptions about the company (not just the China thing, but how they are struggling with getting their act together from a business organization angle too(. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.