My First Consulting Job Out of College: An Unparalleled Experience—Thanks to AKA Enterprise Solutions’ ACT Program
I graduated from Indiana University in 2019 and joined AKA Enterprise Solutions, a Microsoft Gold-certified Dynamics partner, as an associate consultant on the CE (CRM) side of the company. Before coming to AKA, my perception of the consulting world was largely shaped by project-oriented courses at my college and slightly skewed by popular Instagram memes (see @ConsultingHumor). I thought I knew what to expect from a recent graduate consulting job, but here I am, nearly a year since I first stepped into the “real world,” and I am proud to say that in so many aspects I have been pleasantly surprised.
I believe that is due to AKA’s culture and attitude towards employees just starting out in their careers. I want to share what it’s like to be a part of a company with such a positive culture and to encourage anyone just out of school to look for those qualities in any company you consider working for. There are places where first-year consultants like me can truly feel valued and motivated to learn more.
How I joined AKA: The ACT program
AKA offers an Associate Consultant Training (ACT) program, which aims to bring in young talent on both the CRM and ERP/Finance & Operations side of the house and is the perfect place for new professionals to start their consulting career. The program itself is well structured, with abundant resources. I was well prepared and equipped with knowledge of not only the product I was working on, but also what it takes to be the best consultant possible before I ever started my first project.
The ACT program is a true testimony of “learning doesn’t stop after college”. I am reminded and encouraged daily to pick up a new skill, expand my knowledge base, and share resources with everyone else so that, as a company, we continue to grow in a sustainable manner.
My first project: No “busy work”
Unfortunately, many companies think very little of the value a first-year associate consultant can bring to a project. This common belief has led to the assumption that as someone who’s fresh out of college you will be stuck with only busy work for at least a year. This is exactly the opposite of what I’ve experienced on my first project at AKA. Since day one, I have been given the opportunity and respect to voice my opinions on the design, configuration, and implementation of the solution we were building for the client. I was entrusted to complete tasks on my own, and at the same time, my teammates would constantly check in to make sure I was comfortable.
To ensure high quality deliverables, everyone on my team would always make themselves available whenever I needed help either to clarify the client’s requirements or just a second opinion. Every conversation, every discussion, every team meeting I had has taught me something new. It would be a lie to say that I never had a moment of struggle, but the one thing that kept me going and eventually overcoming barriers was knowing that I was not alone and had my whole team behind me no matter what.
My first project provided me with exposure to a complete Agile development cycle, and through the ups and downs, I walked away from it with a successful product launch and many valuable takeaways that will benefit me throughout my career.
The people: A real team from day one
Before coming to AKA, I always believed that the best way to cultivate close relationships was through face-to-face meetings. Fortunately—and especially with COVID-19, I’ve come to learn that, under the right management and in a highly motivated environment, relationships fostered through technology can thrive and be just as meaningful.
Upon arrival and during onboarding, each of the ACT members was paired up with a new hire “buddy,” someone who was formerly an ACT member him or herself. My buddy, Christina, went out of her way to not only make sure I was comfortable with everything at work, but also to take the time to show me around in the city as well (AKA is located in midtown Manhattan.)
Since I started with AKA less than a year ago, my career coach (provided by AKA) and I would meet every two weeks to discuss my personal growth and address any challenges I face. It’s an amazing feeling to know that help is available just one message away, and what’s even better is the fact that, at every level of the organization, people are genuinely willing to go the extra mile to help one another.
Overall, I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry and the most caring people I know. The fact that our people are the best at what they do is also a huge motivation point; I’ve learned so much from everyone I work with.
Look for an employer who trusts you to try new things—and supports you when you do
If you’re recently out of school and looking for your first job, or you’re getting close to graduating, I encourage you to not settle for a company that relegates you to busy work because you’re new. Of course, it’s important to do what you are asked to do to support the company, but you should be working in your field as quickly as possible. Look for an employer who understands your potential and is structured to support you as you learn and expand your knowledge and skills.
Are you interested in exploring a career with AKA?
We’re always looking for talented people who desire a highly satisfying career with a company that emphasizes the success of its team. Learn more about careers at AKA, then check out our opportunities and submit your resumé. Even if you don’t see an opening that fits your skills, send it anyway. We just might have an opportunity that’s perfect for you.
Watch this video to hear what new members of AKA’s Associate Consultant Training program have learned from and enjoyed about working at AKA Enterprise Solutions so far.