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Yesterday, today and tomorrow. A tale of career choices

Alex, a newcomer to the consultancy world, stumbles over a time machine that allows them to visit three alternative futures in which they have chosen three different career paths. Come with us to discover what they learned on the way and how planning the direction and the actions to take regarding your career can change your future.

Image by © Artem Sapegin via Unsplash

 min read
Yesterday, today and tomorrow. A tale of career choices

What would happen if you could experiment every potential option in your career path? A time machine that allowed you to travel through different options and outcomes of your career choices would be a precious good for many, and that is what the main character of our story, Alex, will find!

In this fiction, we will accompany Alex, a newcomer to consulting, in their discovery of this time machine and the lessons they learn along their version-hopping journey. A tool of this sort may highlight the significance of career planning for the ones who are not as lucky as Alex.

Time travel? Let’s have a sneak peek of my professional life!

Meet Alex: freshly graduated and with the wish of starting a career in consulting. They have all the time in the world, but where should they start? There are too many options to choose from, and no one can assure them that the choices they make are going to be the right ones. If only there was a way to look ahead to know what each option would end up like…


Alex is surprised by a loud noise that comes from the closest door. On opening it, they find some sort of portal, could this be the answer to their wish? Alex is not sure, but they will definitely take the chance. Even if a little daunting, having the chance to explore what their choices will bring and the development of their professional future, sounds too tempting not to give it a try.

There they go!


What if… I climbed the consulting hierarchy in a big company?

While entering the portal, Alex has in mind the possibility that people have always considered the safest one: working for an established consulting firm, in which they can evolve and climb the consulting hierarchy. A prestigious position garnished with a good salary could be perfect for both recognition and financial stability. It will feel good for others to recognise your efforts and to play an important role in the company. There are also other factors to take into consideration, like the potential high-pressure environment (a position like that does not come without its price) or the lack of personal time and the consequent repercussions on their personal life.

Before Alex can make up their mind about what side to take, they step on the other side of the portal. They are in a nice office, one reflecting an important position. Not bad! They approach the desk and start to inspect what is on it. They can see some messages on the computer, it seems that they manage plenty of people! That is a nice challenge and it is reassuring to know that people come to them searching for help or guidance. There is an open file too and when they take a look they realise it is an important project that could change things. Owing to their position they can impact on people, on business and with those projects, on the real world.

As they continue studying the office they see also a big pile of papers marked as to do; a planner filled with meetings, lunches, calls and other obligations; a stack of post-its with reminders of missed calls (both personal and professional) … The door opens and a more adult Alex enters the office. Apparently, Alex’s presence can’t be noticed, so they can inspect their future version closer. They look tired, and as past-Alex witnesses how they work, they can see it is hard work. 

Alex starts to consider that this job might come with the dangers of burnout due to the demands of high-profile clients and relentless deadlines, but also with the potential to reshape a company and the possibility of impacting other people's lives. Arriving at such a position will not be the easiest process and they want to enter the consulting world without it meaning they will leave their passion behind. They do not have the certainty that it will happen, but there is possibility. However, they also know that it will be in their hands to choose how their relationship with work will be and how much from it to bring. They still don't know if they are that career driven but they have time to study the pros and cons.

It is an option to consider, nevertheless, they want to continue exploring. Back to the portal, it is!


What if… I decided to be an entrepreneur in the consulting world?

As Alex enters the door, they start fantasising about something very different, an option in which they will be their own boss, create their own company and be the captain of their ship. They still want to make a significant impact in consulting, which will mean working with a team and tackling several needs in diverse fields.

Their thoughts shape the next destination, and their own company appears in front of their eyes. A company of their own would mean being able to shape their career path and lead the activity of the company in their preferred direction. They would also be able to shape a company as a workspace for others, implementing what they consider fair and desirable as work conditions. Building a consultancy from the ground is no easy task and still, it can bring amazing rewards.

They decide to stay a little longer on this alternative future and as the days go by, they realise that leading a consulting firm is like a roller coaster! The highs and the lows are intense, and they come one after the other. As a leader, they profit from the successes of the company, both personally and professionally although the failures also affect them the most, as they are ultimately their responsibility. If the goal was not to take work home, this does not seem like the right option but, at the same time, it is not a burden to think about it, being the company their project. Even if the workload is important, they will be the one taking the decision to bring it home or not to have a better life balanace.

The dichotomies and dedication of venturing into the entrepreneurial world require a considerable amount of resilience and adaptability to keep up with the rhythm of the market and the ups and downs of daily activity. It is also true that witnessing their own company, they become aware that companies are somewhat tied to the market’s needs, and it is necessary to follow those needs to survive, which takes autonomy from the company.

This option seems at the same time rewarding and demanding, and it needs as well previous experience in the field or at least an amount of knowledge that they don’t have in the present. Maybe in the future (further away) they will consider creating their own company, but before choosing, there is still another option they would like to explore.


What if… I pursued my passion for consulting while working for myself?

The last time they step into an alternative future, they appear… in their house. They know it is their house even if the room has a different distribution: a desk, a screen, a laptop, some notes, a filing cabinet… It is a home office but there is their cat, the sofa, their favourite cup with warm tea… It seems calm and welcoming, perfect for working from home and organising the workload in a more personal way

It might be lonely sometimes but they realise a little business card on the table, it seems they don't always work at home. It is a coworking card! The fact of having the possibility of a change of scene and the chance to meet other people in a similar situation seems like the perfect mix between working for himself without isolation. The flexibility that this version offers is almost limitless, except when a project is very urgent. They will manage the workflow and the amount of projects to accept, so that should not happen very often and they will be able to work from another country, start and finish whenever they want and take time for whatever they need or want to do. 

A question arises as they take in this new possibility: how will they find clients? Investigating it seems like they work with consulting firms, other times they find them on professional social media, very rarely, the companies contact them but in conclusion, there are a few loyal clients. In the emails and documents, they see that there have even been occasions in which they have rejected projects, which means they have some freedom to work on projects that resonate with their interests.

In the emails, they find the bills and the monthly expenses too, and they start doing the maths in their head. Depending on the month, it can become tighter than the ideal salary, so financial stability will be an area to keep an eye on. Of course, choosing their own projects brings professional satisfaction and confers a feeling of freedom without a match, however, being a consultant like this comes with financial challenges that will force them to plan be disciplined in all the areas of the business, like expenses, project hunts and, on occasion, the doubt of if rejecting a project is the smartest idea.

Alex decides that they have seen enough and that they are ready to go back to the present, organise their ideas and trace a plan for their professional future.


At the end of the day…

Alex has gone through a lot of experiences and when they come back, there is a lot on their mind. Three different futures, each of them with their highlights and lowlights but in the end, none of them seems to stand out over the others.

What this weird day has taught Alex is mainly the importance of having the bigger picture. Before deciding on a path, it is imperative to inform oneself and consider the best-case scenario and the worst one, as well as the obstacles to overcome and the rewards. This general perspective will help them choose a path according to their personal values and goals. A great salary can be alluring, but it will only fully satisfy someone if they just look for money. However, being realistic it is also necessary as we cannot solely pursue what we are interested in because no job is fully tailored to our needs and there will be aspects that we enjoy less. On that matter, it would be useful to list our needs and organize them in terms of priority to know what is our motivation and what might provide it.

Independently of which path they take, in a world as dynamic as consulting, the ability to adapt is invaluable. Knowledge can be gained, and a worker can continue to study and be educated, but adaptability is not as easily taught. Such a skill will allow any worker to overcome difficulties, find their way around a problem, and keep calm in front of a stressful situation.

Just as we said, this ever-changing world requires constant recycling and a curious mind to stay updated with current trends. Learning comes in all shapes and forms, so it can be through formal education or even through news reading, conversations with colleagues, seminars, and many other ways in which a person can widen their vision.


What can you incorporate into your own journey?

We are pretty sure that you can’t time travel yet, but you don’t need to do it to prepare for your future, no matter what it may look like. Here we will summarise some of the most important pieces of advice that you can extract from this tale to prepare:

  • Before choosing any path, evaluate your strengths and your weaknesses. Be honest and collect your interests and values. Once you have this scheme of where you are at (what you can bring and where you falter) and what ways you would like to follow (the topic to work on and the principles to follow), you can start to envision the goal you are interested in and how to achieve it. Alex considered an option that wasn't sure would fulfil their needs, so even if it looked appealing and the safest one, they have to consider if it is the best for them.
  • Even if you think you know the route to follow to reach your goal or to feel fulfilled, do not close the door to other opportunities you might not know about yet. Alex could have stopped on the first or the second option, but they chose to continue and have the bigger picture for choosing with full knowledge of the options.
  • Sometimes researching by yourself is not enough, and you do not need a time machine to know your options. Seeking guidance or asking experienced professionals for mentorship are still options in the real world that will provide you with, not only objective facts but also personal experiences, opinions, and pieces of advice from people who have lived first-hand what you are about to step in.
  • We emphasised the importance of adaptability in the previous section and, as we saw with Alex, an option might not be right or wrong entirely, but it might be so for a specific moment. If they had chosen to create their own company from moment one, they would have probably struggled more than if they had done it after several years of getting to know the market. This means that no position has to be fixed, and you can vary and adapt to other options that bring you different adventures and positions.
  • Continue to learn, develop your skills and be attentive to the market. Being updated will never be unimportant, and the more you know, the more you will feel at ease in it.


Alex was lucky to find a time machine, but indeed, he wouldn’t have needed that to be prepared for entering the consulting world. A thorough and thoughtful preparation before making a decision is key to embark yourself in a path that suits your needs and can help you reach further advances along the way. We hope that this metaphor will help you decipher the moment you are at right now, reflect on the direction you want for your career and envision the steps to follow.

There is no right or wrong choice and if you have an interest in succeeding you will find your place, but keep in mind that planning will flatten the way for getting there quicker. If you want to start your adventure as a consultant, feel free to visit our job offers page and consider if any of the positions fit your needs. Let us know, what path you think fits Alex best?