M.S. in Commerce 2015 (Marketing & Management), University of Virginia
B.A. in English, University of Virginia 2014
After: Boston Consulting Group, Associate (Dallas, TX)
Now: Boston Consulting Group, Consultant (Dallas, TX)
Leveraging liberal arts with business
I studied English as an undergraduate. A less obvious benefit I've realized it gave me was learning nuances of language and tone. That's a skill that takes time to acquire, and it serves you well in a client-facing field.
Most memorable class
I loved Professor Peter Maillet's class on Global Commerce. He's extremely smart, and the content he teaches is the kind of stuff that everyone is still talking about long after class ends. He's also an excellent moderator—he drew out a diversity of perspectives in the room, and I felt as though I learned as much from my classmates as I did from him.
Preparation for a job in consulting
Consulting is all about working in teams, and your teams change frequently. It's critical to work with new people well, with as small of a learning curve as possible. I think McIntire did a great job driving home that group work is iterative—that is, it's about building off each other's work, not about piecing everyone's parts together at the end. That can be painful to learn, but it's very reflective of how case teams function. Every slide has comments, and even if your work was great, sometimes it gets changed or scrapped because of the bigger storyline. Our professors at McIntire drove home to us that we needed to revise and work collaboratively, and although it can be harder to understand the value of that process when you're just working for a grade, I really got it when I started working for actual clients.
Taking advantage of Commerce Career Services
CCS was great. The staff excels at tailoring the job search to your individual strengths and preferences and advocates for finding the best fit for you, whatever that might be. Before I applied to the big consulting firms, I had a very real conversation with CCS about what I was looking for, and it helped me clarify and tailor my search a lot.
What makes the job great
I honestly most enjoy the culture at BCG. The firm promotes and prioritizes a collaborative and caring environment. My coworkers are always willing to help each other out—there's no competitive edge at all. There's also so much focus on mentorship and development. In many jobs, you're working to your strengths. At BCG, it's all about improving your weaknesses—the company has a formal process in which you identify what you want to improve, and your project leader makes it a priority to help you work on that. It's always important to like and respect those you work with, but additionally, especially straight out of school, it's really key to find a company that will invest in your development.
Typical day at the office
At 9 a.m. I had a morning check-in with my case team, during which we reviewed the content we produced the day before, and planned the day. Then, I spent the morning analyzing data our client had sent over and researching using our web resources. Everything I found went into slides, which were then sent to my project leader to review. In the afternoon, we interviewed someone at the client site. After the meeting, I was on point for distilling the interview into slides. I then went back to the hotel and took an hour off to work out. After, I received feedback on my slides from my project leader and spent the evening making revisions, sending back a second version before I went to bed.
That's probably the most "typical" day in consulting, but the schedule varies a lot. Sometimes you'll be out in the field, observing shoppers or conducting focus groups. Other times, you have a light day and get to have a fun case team dinner or event. I'm never doing the same thing at every time every day. That keeps the job interesting, but also makes it challenging if you're someone who craves structure.
Importance of the Global Immersion Experience (GIE)
My GIE experience was really valuable. BCG is a global company, and there's a good chance I could be staffed somewhere I visited during GIE. In addition, many of my coworkers are not native to the United States, and it's great when my GIE experiences give me a foothold from which to simply engage with them socially about their culture and background.
Most memorable company visit
I went to the Middle East and India for GIE. I really enjoyed visiting EY in Dubai and learning about the company’s work in Saudi Arabia as well as its hiring practices. There's a huge issue in the Middle East, and particularly Saudi Arabia, with the low levels of local employment at the many international companies in the region. EY was impressively transparent about how they are working on hiring local and gave us a lot to think about!
Most memorable GIE cultural experience
I thoroughly enjoyed our final dinner in India. We saw a traditional puppet show and got henna, all while enjoying fabulous food! I was impressed with and appreciative of how much my classmates in the M.S. in Commerce embraced the local food in general while on GIE.
Advice for current and prospective students
Don't be so stressed out! You will find a job, and your grades will be fine, if not great. On a serious note, learning how to manage stress is very important. Stress doesn't end with college, and real-world stress can be way more real. Take the time to learn how to look out for yourself now, and work as hard on that as you probably do on schoolwork.
Favorite Charlottesville activity
I love all the fabulous vineyards around Charlottesville. The M.S. in Commerce Program lasts only a year, but you should try to visit them all!