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Jack Whitson_qcs4oQuG
M.S. in Commerce

Jack Whitson

  • M.S. in Commerce 2017 (Business Analytics), University of Virginia
  • B.A. in Economics and History 2016, The University North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • After: IBM, Analytics Consultant (Washington, D.C.)
  • Now: IBM, Senior Consultant (Washington, D.C.)

On choosing the M.S. in Commerce Program

I knew I wanted to polish my technical skills before I entered the workforce. I studied Economics and History in undergrad, and I wanted to find a graduate program that would enhance what I already knew. The M.S. in Commerce really stood out to me as an opportunity to bridge the gap between what I had learned in undergrad and where I wanted to be after graduate school. I was drawn by the opportunity to learn a lot and get my feet wet in the business world, and I think I did just that.

Leveraging liberal arts with business

During my internship before my senior year, I started to realize that much of what I had learned in undergrad was very theoretical. But what I found was that I didn’t really know how to work Excel, and I didn’t know how to analyze data very well—that’s where McIntire came in. The Business Analytics Track in particular helped me a great deal with polishing my technical skills. I also really improved my presentation skills—I felt like we were constantly giving presentations and working in teams, and a lot of great communication skills came out of that.

Impactful class projects

Our milestone project was with Under Armour—that was really exciting because we got to help solve a legitimate business problem. I remember reading The Wall Street Journal and seeing the articles about how Under Armour had declining revenue over the last few years. Our teams were given live data sets, and we were tasked with finding solutions through data. We then got to present our findings to executives, which was a challenging, but incredible experience.

Advice for students interested in consulting

I would say to do your research. If you have any idea of what you want to do after school, look into whether there are UVA alumni who do what you want to do. McIntire does an excellent job of putting you into great consulting and finance roles, and if that’s what you’re interested in, see if there are young alumni from the program who do that. I think it’s good to reach out to them and see what they learned—I can be one to say that I definitely think what I learned at McIntire was incredibly valuable for what I do now.

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