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Young man sitting on bench with computer and headphones

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The word bench can have a negative connotation in sports. If you’re a “bench” player, it means you’re supporting the team and spectating, but not actually playing.

During my first four days at Accenture Consulting, I was far from sitting on the bench. And even today, I may not be the one scoring the goal, but I am on the field, still playing.

Benched in consulting

One week in. Wow, I was already staffed on a project at a top tech firm! How lucky am I? I thought to myself. Three days into the project, my supervisor called me into the office and said, “We will have to take your badge and laptop back; you are being rolled off.”

Did I do something, say something offensive? 

No, according to my surprised supervisor, the client simply changed direction.

What exactly is consulting, and am I basically being fired? 

I’ve heard the term “being benched,” but I’d never actually thought it would come so soon in my consulting journey.

That was a tough day. Looking back now, I smile at my reaction. But in the moment, I was scared. And it was completely okay to feel that way.

I had a couple of days on the bench, and those days were the best. Turns out, it was a blessing in disguise (and a great first project story to tell!). I was able to network with 33 people, have lunch and coffee with three managing directors and had the opportunity to attend a local health conference—all of which have opened new doors for me.

For new joiners and fresh analysts navigating those first few days, weeks and months (whether “on the bench” or not), take my advice: Don’t fear the bench! There are so many people in the firm willing to help. All you need to do is take initiative, and reach out with a purpose.

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Don't fear the bench! 

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Things I wish I'd known about consulting

I take what happened as a learning and growing experience. Since I have taken a step back and thought about my short-lived experience at my first consulting project, I wish I had known the following:

  • Every day at the client site is an audition. Have your “game face” on, and be ready to go from start to finish.
  • Vendor migration projects can be sensitive. Dig into the details.
  • Different stakeholders are involved in each project. Get to know all the players, from the client to the Accenture supervisor and the leads on a project.
  • Client relationships are the lifeblood of the business. When you are in the same room as a client and Accenture manager, be sure you are supporting both effectively. They each may need different tasks to be completed, but it is vital to always be professional and to know whom to go to for specific questions.
  • Treat everyone with the utmost respect. That includes your career counselor (who I would highly recommend talking to regularly), your peers, team leads and senior managers on the project and the clients and office staff that fill up the yummy trail mix jars.
  • Keep in contact with the people you reach out to while on the bench. At first, you may feel a little desperate to find a new project, and you may find yourself reaching out to numerous people. Just breathe. You will find an open role. Keep in mind: Every response you get, every person that takes time to Skype with you, is taking time out of their busy schedule to help you in building your Accenture brand. It is essential to maintain those relationships.
  • Take time and reflect. Give every project 100 percent effort.

I already know the people at Accenture are what make it such a special place. And I am certain I will be here for a long time, based on my positive experiences in the last three days “on the field.”

Ready to roll up your sleeves and do amazing work? Find your fit with Accenture.


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Shaneli Jain

Consulting Senior Analyst, San Francisco, California

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