my life as a consultant (part 1) - goods and bads

As of this writing, I've been a consultant for over 12 years now.

In fact, I only had jobs with two consulting firms (both happens to be based out in Chicago) in my entire life (other than part time jobs at Nobody beats the Wiz and LG Electronics during college).

Working for a consulting firm is great! I would highly recommend it.
For every project you work on, you will get to work with different client and learn how they operate their business as well as their internal culture and politics.
This is definitely a good exposure and experience to have so you can understand and compare different companies, without actually being employed.

Most of the clients that I worked with are either in Fortune 500 or are very well known globally. For this reason, I think it's easier for consultants to get a new job when they are ready to settle in a corporate world due to their background and extensive experience in big companies (clients).

Being a consultant, however, has one caveat. 99% of the time, you must be willing to travel 100%. Consulting firms usually will not hire you if you don't agree to travel anytime they ask you to and you must sign an agreement form prior to joining the firm, which means they can fire you if you tell them you don't wish to travel anymore.

Traveling is great if you are single and don't mind flying often.
The company will pay for your flights, hotels, rental cars, and even your meals!
My previous company even paid for membership access to the Concierge Lounge at the airport so that you can relax and rest while you are waiting for your flights.

Due to my business travels in the last few years, I've been an elite and VIP member for Marriott, Hilton, United, American, and USAirways. And because of all the perks that come with traveling, I was able to enjoy several vacations with my family for free using my hotel points and airline mileages.

Traveling is also good since you get to go to different places that you normally would not have gone to. It's almost like a vacation or a road trip, except that somebody is paying for your entire trip I'm just little upset that I have yet to travel internationally.

However, traveling does get old and tired very quickly, especially if you are married and have children. You will get home sick and miss your family and will get sick of eating out every day (I know it sounds crazy but trust me, it will if you eat out every day for few years). Also, all the airline delays and flight cancellations will make you think twice about why you have to travel to make the living.

So here's my two cents based on my experience.
If you are fresh out of school, I highly recommend considering consulting firms for your first job. This will boost your experience (and resume) faster than any other ways.
I'm sure you won't mind traveling and going to different places while you are single (btw, this also saves you tons of money).

When you settle down and have family, however, consulting is not the right job...
To be continued...
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