I have recently concluded my sixth week as a graduate business consultant at EY and already my experience has surpassed expectations.

This summer I graduated from the University of Bristol with a MSci in Physics with Innovation. Unbeknown to me, when I started university, I had chosen a degree that would lend itself naturally to consulting. Physics helped me develop a logical approach to tackling quantitative complexity. Innovation, on the other hand, instilled the importance of considering a human perspective when solving business problems. I’ve found both to be useful when working with clients so far.

It was in my second year when I was introduced to the role of a consultant. I worked on a six month project with a team of students assisting our client to design games for people with dementia. This may not be your typical management consultant project, however, it gave me a taste of the world of consulting: plunging into new industries and supporting clients through their toughest challenges. I was attracted to the variety, problem solving and relationship building aspects of the role. Everyone I spoke to said no two days were the same in consulting and you never stop learning. From my experience so far, they were not wrong.

I was truly over the moon to receive an offer from EY, not least because of their mantra of “building a better working world”. Defining my work by such a purpose means a lot to me and reassures me that I am on the right track. Another draw towards consulting was this opportunity to have a positive impact through my work and EY has given me a way to realise that.

So what is it like to work as a consultant? Well, I am still figuring that out myself, but my initial impression is it is what you make it. Since starting at EY there have been such a variety of opportunities, people to meet, networks and communities to join, and internal initiatives to get involved with that you get the sense that the sky’s the limit for what you can do and achieve. It has become apparent how entrepreneurial consulting is, especially in a large firm like EY where there are numerous teams and clients, your career is entirely in your hands and how you define your direction within the firm is completely up to you. The phrase used to describe this side of consulting on my first day at the firm was “be the CEO of your career”. This freedom and responsibility is a little overwhelming at times, but I also find it incredibly exciting and motivating.

A significant part of this career-defining entrepreneurship is networking. In such a vast company, the only way to get to grips with the breadth of projects that go on is by speaking to people and building relationships both horizontally and vertically within the firm. To anyone like me, who finds the prospect of introducing myself to random people a push out of my comfort zone, don’t let fear hold you back. If you approach every conversation as an opportunity to learn and to hear from inspiring, passionate people, there is very little pressure on yourself to perform. After the first few conversations, you will get used to it I promise!

As for a day in the life, my days vary considerably, but are likely to involve at least two meetings, a coffee catch-up with someone I want to establish a better working relationship with, admin, and a range of different tasks including using excel, designing powerpoints, or conducting desktop research.

As well as only being six weeks into my job, I am also just one week into my first project. However, I have already learned so much from my team and to conclude this spotlight, I would like to share my top learnings, so you can be a little more prepared for your first engagement. Firstly, communication is so importantespecially when your team is predominantly working virtually. Let your colleagues know what you are working on, the progress you are making and if you have any capacity to support other workstreams. This will help your managers to plan your work, and to give them confidence that you are making progress and taking the initiative. Secondly, ask questions.You aren’t expected to understand everything the first time you hear it, but the best way to show you are engaged with the content and keen to grasp what is being said is to ask questions. Finally, ask for feedback, it is the only way to learn and develop. I have found the hardest part of starting this job is you don’t know what success looks like. How long should this piece of work take? What does a gold standard version of this piece of work look like? How should I manage my time and prioritise different pieces of work? It is completely natural to have so many questions and fortunately you are surrounded by a company full of consultants who have all been in the exact same position with the same questions, so there is no reason to be afraid to ask.

I hope this very fresh perspective on what it means to be a young consultant is useful. If you are reading this as someone considering a career in consulting, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I will be more than happy to answer your questions.