The impact of Covid on the next generation of consultants: A personal account

desk with laptop, promotedThe past couple of years has disrupted life for all of us, but none more so than the class of 2020.

In this article, Alice Mowll, Business Solutions Analyst at capital markets consultancy Quorsus outlines how she transitioned from life at uni straight into life at work – all from behind the same screen in her home, and her experience of onboarding into a new company both virtually and in person.

Perception vs. Reality

When I entered my undergrad journey I had a clear progression of study-to-work laid out in my head. Just like millions of other people before me, after just the right mix of working and playing hard for three years, I would don my cap and gown, grasp that well-earned scroll in my hands, wave to my loved ones sitting shoulder to shoulder in an audience of fellow well-wishers, and walk off the stage and into the world of work. And then 2020 happened.

Luckily for me, I did get to experience three great years of well-rounded Uni life, but little did I know the tail-end of my degree would involve having to make some tough decisions. As the Zoom invitations for our virtual graduation arrived, a fair few of my fellow students opted for ‘panic master’s degrees’. I could see the appeal of sticking with the familiarity of the previous three years while adding a few more acronyms to the end of my credits, but ultimately that option wasn’t for me.

I could also see why others deferred for another year, building up a nice cash reserve while they waited for the coast to hopefully clear. Again, not my cup of tea – I had poured enough of those in my part-time six-year stint as a waitress. I decided to dive into my career as soon as I could. But with scary stats popping up like this one from graduate jobs website Milkround ‘just 18% of graduates are securing jobs this year [2020] compared to the typical 60%’ it wasn’t a decision I took lightly.

Making the leap

After looking hard at what was on offer, the idea of working for a consultancy kept coming up, as did my perceived pros and cons. I had heard how competitive and cut-throat a lot of consultancies could be – a small fish, big pond vibe that was a definite con in my book. But the pros of a challenging environment, the opportunity to learn something new and to problem solve that was the pro.

When I heard that a fast-growing, purpose-led consultancy in The City was looking for graduates to join the fold, I was so glad I had made the leap into a career, and felt so grateful to not only find, but become part of a company whose values genuinely resonated with my own. And so, I was about to be Alice Mowll: Business Solutions Analyst.

It was odd to think that this rite of passage from Uni to work would be happening from the same seat, at the same desk, in the same room of my house. But then, working on my own was what I was used to at university, with an average of seven hours in person contact a week, most of my time there was made up of ‘independent study’. I just anticipated more of the same at work. Looking back now, given the 18 months we’ve had I really should have expected the unexpected…

Being the newbie – twice

While I hadn’t physically changed my position, when I started my new role, I was in a completely new headspace. I was working with Teams – both in the human and Microsoft senses of the word. No longer a one-woman band, there was a real community spirit from day one, with people propelling each other to do well. Not only did I feel encouraged – I felt celebrated.

That is due in huge part to the positive culture within the company, something our fabulous Managing Partner and Chief of Staff Carolyn K. Van den Daelen, has written about before. But it is not lost on me that the reason I may have had such a good experience could be down to the fact I was comfortable at home. With fewer potential anxieties and newbie nerves, I had laser-focussed productivity and more time learning due to fewer distractions and less time commuting. So now as we slowly return to the workplace, I almost feel like I am starting from scratch again – especially given the fact I have never worked in an office before. Inevitable questions are whirling around in my head like – will it feel like a brand-new job? What will in-person client meetings be like? Is there danger of my productivity dropping once I am faced with unfamiliar office noises?

I am mainly looking forward to socialising with team and cultivating connections that started from a contact on a 2-D image on an all-to-familiar screen into fully rounded IRL friendships. I know from the online experience I have had so far that I am set to create truly innovative collaborative output and I truly can’t wait for that. Of course, I will be nervous – but then it’s not exciting if you aren’t pushing yourself, is it?

Alice MowllAbout the author

Alice graduated in the Summer of 2020 with a First Class degree in Business and Management BSc. She joined Quorsus in November as a Business Solutions Analyst where she is responsible for supporting, managing and co-ordinating various projects within the regulatory reporting and securities domains. Alice is also championing the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative to help educate university students about a career in consulting.

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