Saying “No” to Consulting: A Woman’s Right to Choose

By Kelly Fee '16

Kelly Fee '16

Kelly Fee '16

My favorite moment during coffee chats with 1Ys interested in consulting is right after I mention, “I’m not going back, by the way.” The bewilderment that ensues has been the highlight of my second year thus far (with Dean Kumar’s verbose rankings emails trailing at a close second). Without exception, the next question is always a timid, “Do you mind me asking why you’re not going back?” At this point, I shuffle through my list of canned responses:

Why aren’t you going back?

Oh, I don’t want to.

Meh, pass.

Hard pass.

Good for you. Not for me.

I’m pregnant.*

All of the above.

*This response maximizes awkwardness levels and ensures a deer-in-the-headlights look

I typically choose a combination of a) and d) and begin explaining my thought process in economics terms: benefits and costs.

The benefits of consulting, for me, are branding, learning opportunities, salary, network, and exit opportunities. Each of these benefits has a different value for each person. It’s highly personal.

The costs of consulting are, again for me, time with friends and family, concerts and other weekday entertainment, reading books, starting a company, sleep, being on the board of a non-profit, volunteering, church involvement, Netflix and chill, etc. Each of these costs has a different value for each person. It’s highly personal.

Throughout the summer, I pondered the currency I use to pay for the benefits of consulting:

“How many summer dinners with my boyfriend am I willing to pay for insight into the change management challenges of this Fortune 1000 company?”

“This whole godforsaken industry might be worth it just for the amazing food.”

Ultimately, I faced this question: is my willingness to pay high enough for the benefits of consulting?

Answer: Yeah, no, it’s not. Please see the graphical representation below in case you don’t read well.

2Y Perspective

Sharing my “Bye, Felicia Consulting” news with 2Ys is just as entertaining as when I tell 1Ys. Responses typically fall into one of these buckets:

Ok, so now what are you gonna do? (Side note: Thank you, fellow 2Ys, for projecting your insecurities and recruiting timelines on me with this one.)

That makes sense. I never saw you as a consultant.

Good thing you got the internship.

(And now, my all-time favorite as well as the most common response from people who are themselves going into consulting)

Wow! Good for you. Brave.


Good for me? That’s your response? If I suffered from Chrohn’s disease and ordered gluten-free pizza at dinner, would you say, “Wow. Good for you. Really, good for you ordering food that won’t make you sick. You’re so brave?”

Fighter pilots are brave. Boothies who walk into Kaplan’s EFPE class late are brave. MBAs turning down a job they don’t want are, at a minimum, demonstrating a 4-grade-level ability to make decisions based on personal preferences and, at best, somewhat aware of their priorities.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to job opportunities I’m pro-choice because I’m pro-life. “Golden handcuffs” is a B.S. concept because we put them on ourselves and we hold the key to unlock them. So let’s stop complaining about the taste of our gluten-free pizzas when we didn’t even have to order them because our gluten allergies are completely made up.

And while I’m on the topic of pizza, can I just say that you’re all wasting your time at Giordano’s. Lou Malnati’s is down. the. street. Just sayin’.

Kelly is looking for a job and is $100K+ in debt, and wonders if you need your lawn mowed