Category Archives: Undergraduate

Why a career in consulting is for me

Megan Sevigny (BA 2015) reflects on her experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

At the beginning of this summer I had a small panic attack, which I am told is fairly common among incoming college seniors: I was certain I was making all the wrong life choices, and that I would be floundering helplessly after graduation. Fortunately, I didn’t have much time to wallow in my panic because I almost immediately started as a summer student consultant with the Consulting & Business Development Center. Luckily for me, my internship was the perfect tranquilizer for my panic attack because it led me to realize that not only do I want to pursue a career in consulting after college graduation, but I am being well prepared to pursue that goal with confidence.

Megan Sevigny
Student consultant Megan Sevigny (BA 2015) with Justin Christensen from RE Powell after presenting her final recommendations to the company.

In June, I contracted with a convenience store chain, an athletic club, and a distillery all from the lower Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities to perform consulting projects through the center. My clients could not have been more different, but this diversity was what made my work so exciting, educational, and enriching. I grew up in the Yakima Valley and it was especially meaningful to me to work so close to home and to see local business owners bringing their ideas and passion for what they do to the community.

I can’t even begin to explain everything I learned about financial statements, liquor manufacturing, survey design, and athletic club member personas this summer. My family and friends are just about done with me explaining to them the inner workings of convenience stores and no one wants to come grocery shopping with me anymore because I spend far too long examining different products and what branding techniques they use. I have also developed a habit of interrogating any small business owners I happen across, about their career stories, passions for what they do, and their current business inner workings.

However, all these side effects, while not the healthiest for my social life, have proven to me that consulting is absolutely the direction I want to head after graduation. Furthermore, working and learning in the real world have shown me many of my own strengths and weaknesses and have served as a guide for which areas I want to focus my attention in my final year at school. My time working with the center has been incredibly valuable to me in so many ways. I made wonderful connections, learned so much about myself and my capabilities, and found some amazing support through the center and the business owners I worked with. I am eager to continue to build on my education and experiences and to move forward towards a career in consulting.

Checking in on YEOC: A new year

As a new school year begins, so does Foster’s high school-to-college pipeline program Young Executives of Color, known to most as YEOC. The program, now in its eighth year, is more competitive than ever, receiving over 350 applications for 173 spots. With 44 percent of current YEOC students working towards being the first in their family to attend college, the stakes are high and the rewards are life-changing. There’s much to learn and discuss, which is why the program staff kicked things off with an all morning orientation for both students and parents. YEOC Program Manager Korrie Miller believes that it’s vital that families have time to ask questions and see what their students will be doing for the next nine months. “It sets the tone for the whole year,” she says.

After breakfast and a bit of networking, students reviewed the program expectations and policies concerning attendance (required), dress code (business casual), and bullying (zero tolerance). Afterward, the students met their assigned mentors. The mentors, juniors and seniors here at Foster (some of whom are also YEOC alums) are assigned several YEOC students to support both during and outside of the sessions. This support includes contacting the mentees to see how they’re coming along with school-work (the average GPA for a YEOC student is a 3.6) and what actions they’re taking to achieve their post-secondary goals. The students ended their session with a workshop hosted by admissions counselors and recruiters from UW’s Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.

Meanwhile at the parent session, families were given the opportunity to hear from YEOC staff, program sponsors EY, former YEOC parents, and a former YEOC student and mentor. Like the students, they also ended the session with a college prep and admissions workshop.

See photos of the orientation below.

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YEOC mentors
2014-2015 YEOC Mentors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog post is a part of a series focusing on monthly YEOC student activities. Visit the YEOC page to learn more about the program.

A Consulting Program Grounded in Experiential Learning

Jacob Mager (BA 2015) reflects on his experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to work for the Consulting and Business Development Center as part of their Summer Consulting Program. I worked with three diverse businesses in the Seattle area: Plum Bistro—a vegan restaurant, McKinnon Furniture—a custom furniture manufacturer/retailer, and the CIDBIA—a non-profit dedicated to improving the business environment in Chinatown-International District. What I loved best about working with each of my clients was the true passion and excitement each owner displayed for their business. I completed a wide variety of task ranging from designing a floor plan, to orchestrating an employee meeting, to creating a branding strategy. This Program, although not my first consulting experience, challenged me to grow and learn like never before. I picked up valuable skills needed to move into a professional consulting career, and have highlighted what I consider to be some of my most important takeaways below.

Student consultant Jacob Mager (BA 2015) with Gary Strand of McKinnon Furniture after presenting his final recommendations to the company.
Student consultant Jacob Mager (BA 2015) with Gary Strand of McKinnon Furniture after presenting his final recommendations to the company.

Communication – I wrote emails, made phone calls, and presented ideas to my clients, advisors and manager. I was pushed to communicate more frequently, and because of the professional setting, more articulately than ever before. Each time I spoke clients I was expected to convey what I had completed, my plan moving forward, and to provide solid reasoning for every decision I made. This was much different than anything I’d experienced in class before, and although challenging, led me to greatly improve my verbal and written communication skills.

Relationships – I discovered the power of building close personal relationships in a professional setting. Because clients trusted me with sensitive information and were open about their concerns and goals, I was able to more efficiently address their needs and tackle additional problem areas. Ultimately, these close relationships not only made for a more enjoyable working experience, but motivated me to significantly increase both the quality and quantity of my work.

Work Ethic – As a student, it was both inspiring and empowering to get an opportunity to impact real life businesses. In doing so, I was compelled to provide thorough, quality work, and to put in the long, sometimes stressful hours needed. By being required to deliver results under deadline, just like you would in a real consulting position, I learned that long hours aren’t as hard as they seem when you feel your work has real value.

After completing this Program, I gained valuable skills and strengthened my conviction to choose a career as a consultant. I loved the diversity of my work and the opportunity to constantly learn. Each day was filled with new challenges, and knowing that my work would have a real impact kept me highly motivated. I became a better communicator, strengthened my work ethic, and learned how to build personal relationships within a professional context. I’m extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and know that it will greatly benefit me as I move forward into a career.

Having a real impact

Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) reflects on his experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

One of the most unique aspects of the Consulting & Business Development Center’s Summer Consulting Program, and one of the reasons I’m most grateful for having participated in it, is the amount of true creative freedom and independence that is given to  each summer consultant. When I was first reading the description for the position, which outlined a student simultaneously consulting with three small businesses and personally constructing recommendations that would really improve them, I was skeptical. Most short-term business opportunities for students that I had heard of up to that point seemed to involve repetitive grunt work without much room to manage oneself or have a real impact.

Student consultant Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) with client Tonyia Smith, owner of Silver Slice Bakery in Seattle.
Student consultant Gabriel Heckt (BBA 2016) with client Tonyia Smith, owner of Silver Slice Bakery in Seattle.

What I experienced this summer was widely different from that perception. As the first few days of orientation began to wrap up, I realized that each student consultant would be individually responsible for their businesses, and the strategies we would eventually present would be all our own. I had to build everything from the ground up: outlining my own projects, carrying out my own research, and forming my own recommendations. I received excellent training and ongoing support from the center and a professional consultant advisor, but ultimately the finished product that would be used by the companies would be my creation. Although this created considerable pressure to create effective recommendations that could be actually used by the companies, the reward of having a real, tangible impact on these small businesses was immense, and is another reason why this program really stands apart from others.

This summer I worked with a gluten-free bakery, a specialty hair care salon, and a clothing boutique, all with their own diverse backgrounds and challenges. I really enjoyed connecting with all of these businesses and getting to know the owners over the course of the program. Working with real people and their livelihoods required my best work to deliver solutions that really addressed the challenges outlined at the beginning. It was incredibly satisfying to hear these owners excited to put the strategies I had created into effect in order to help their businesses.

The wide range of challenges presented to me over the course of the summer pushed me to expand my knowledge of business and step outside my comfort zone. The fact that I had to simultaneously construct a public relations campaign, recreate a website, and streamline a business’s infrastructure meant I was constantly learning new skills, testing new strategies, and improving my time management by leaps and bounds.

The Summer Consulting Program was an amazing opportunity that I recommend every business student apply for. The combination of extensive responsibility, positive pressure to improve, and the tangible impact of my work really made it the most significant experience of my undergraduate business career thus far, and a key part of my journey to becoming a professional consultant.

Undergrads trek to San Francisco to network with employers

Guest post by Zak Sheerazi, assistant director of career development, Undergraduate Career Services

On August 26 and 27, Foster Undergraduate Career Services took a group of students to San Francisco to visit seven companies. This group of Foster students consisted of finance/accounting majors  interested in working in the Bay Area after they graduate.

Each company visit entailed an overview of the company and provided students the opportunity to network with company representatives. During this two-day trek we also had a San Francisco alumni networking night. Roughly 60 Foster alumni from the San Francisco area met up to network with each other and our current students.

Amy Li, accounting/finance major, had this to say about her experience on the trek, “It was a great opportunity that enabled students to have direct interaction with employers and to learn about their jobs from different perspectives. Communication is an essential skill in career development, thus through this form of networking event, we not only explored the diverse career paths we could choose from but also had the chance to build and present our personal brand.”

We would like to send a special thanks to the employers who participated in the SF Trek: Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Piper Jaffray, Prudential Capital, PwC, and Vaquero Capital.

San Francisco Trek
Photos from the company visits and networking night on the San Francisco Trek.

“Is a career in consulting the right choice for me?”

Faith Katsman (BA 2015) reflects on her experience as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting & Business Development Center.

As fall recruiting quickly approaches for full-time consulting positions, I reflect on my time as a summer student consultant with the UW Consulting and Business Development Center. When I initially applied for this program, I did not know what to expect. I was not sure what my scope of responsibilities would be, how much independent work I would be doing, if a manager would be telling me what to do every day, or what I would learn from the program. What I did know is that I was interested in a career in consulting, and this program could help me confirm or deny that interest.

Faith Katsman & Mike McKinney
Student consultant Faith Katsman (BA 2015) with Mike McKinney from McKinney Glass, Inc. after presenting her final recommendations to the Yakima-based company.

This summer, I worked with three very different clients in Yakima: a restaurant, an electrical contractor, and an auto-glass professional. Working with each client was a unique and invaluable experience. One aspect of the program that could not be duplicated in a classroom was directly interacting with the clients. Interacting with each client was not only fun for me, but also helped me grow personally and professionally. Hearing positive and constructive feedback from someone you are directly working with on a day-to-day basis was very rewarding.

Working with the restaurant was especially interesting to me because I am passionate about cooking. Opening or investing in a restaurant in the future would be something I may be interested in. I was able to assist the restaurant by designing a new marketing plan to create a more loyal customer base. This afforded me the opportunity to look at the internal operations at a restaurant and some of what it takes to be successful. The owners were extremely dedicated to making sure everything was perfect, which I admired greatly. Working with them inspired me to continue to follow my dreams.

Each day throughout this internship was a challenge. I was encouraged to reach outside my comfort zones and think outside the box. Since I was given a lot of autonomy and not micro-managed, I had to stay organized and utilize excellent time-management skills to get my work done promptly, much like the real world will be. As this program comes to an end, I know without a doubt consulting is the right career choice for me. Each day at work was exciting for me, and I am sad to see it end so quickly. This internship has given me a great foundation to continue my desire to enter a career in consulting.

Taking the plunge and moving to Chile

Guest post by Katie Gray (BA 2011)

Katie GrayI graduated from the Foster School in 2011, having studied marketing and Spanish and earning a Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB). Last year I decided to take the plunge and move to Chile, where I had studied abroad four years prior. Although I didn’t have a job lined up, my plan was to immediately begin networking with my U.S. and Chilean contacts as soon as I arrived in Santiago. I began to email everyone I knew back in the U.S. to let them know I had moved in the off-chance that someone might have a connection in Chile. Luckily my plan worked, and a contact from Microsoft put me in touch with the man who is now my boss here at Microsoft Chile. I applied for and was offered the position of customer marketing manager for the Small and Medium Business segment.

As a marketing manager for a sales team, I manage and execute Microsoft’s direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns and activities throughout Chile for companies below 250 PCs. Although it is challenging to work in a fast-paced environment in a foreign language, I recognize this job has provided significantly more responsibility and room for growth than an entry-level position I would have had in the U.S. I am very grateful to Foster and the CISB Program for the foreign language and networking skills they helped me develop, and I cannot recommend the experience of working abroad highly enough. To anyone considering a move abroad after graduation who would like to know more about my experience, please feel free to contact me at kemilygray at gmail dot com.

Checking in on YEOC: The May Session

“The building bridges program’s primary goal is to assimilate prospective workers into a more international cultural body, and to succinctly mend the gap between differing generations of workers. This program will not only expand the worker’s knowledge of various cultures, but will also elevate their opportunity to grow through art and culture, to allow for a more well-rounded workforce.”

The quote above is the mission statement of Building Bridges, a social program aimed to engage millennials in the workplace. On their website, interested clients can find more information regarding future activities, daily reads and program benefits. Here’s the thing: Building Bridges does not exist… at least not yet. The organization is the winning creation of a team of YEOC students participating in the YEOC Case Competition Challenge. With Amazon Kindle Fires at stake, the competing student teams (18 in total) were tasked with developing a one page proposal describing their millennial workplace engagement plan and presenting for 10 minutes in front of a panel of business and community leaders. After successfully wowing the judges with their carefully designed website, brochure and presentation, Building Bridges was declared victorious at the YEOC End of Year Celebration in the HUB Ballroom. The announcement was just one of the many highpoints of the evening.

At the celebration, five $2,000 YEOC Senior Scholarships were awarded to students attending UW in the fall. Attendees also heard remarks from Keynote speaker Carlos Gutierrez, partner at EY, and student speaker (and future Foster student) Ashlyn Thomas.

Since YEOC is a college-prep program, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention what a few of the YEOC seniors have in store after graduation. Some highlights:

  • 50 of the 79 seniors who applied to UW were accepted for a 63% acceptance rate –higher than the UW’s acceptance rate of 55%
  • Eight YEOC seniors were admitted to the Foster Freshman Direct program
  • Schools that YEOC seniors will be attending include: University of Washington, Washington State University, Evergreen College, Babson College, Northeastern University, Hawaii Pacific University, University of Southern California and the University of Oregon

With stats like these, YEOC students are a true testament that anything is possible. Take part in the celebration by watching the end of the year compilation video and checking out some of the photos below:

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Foster student receives Bonderman Travel Fellowship

Wilson Carletti in Hong Kong while on the China Exploration Seminar
Wilson Carletti in Hong Kong while on the China Exploration Seminar

Foster undergraduate student Wilson Carletti was recently awarded a Bonderman Travel Fellowship which will enable him to travel solo for eight months and visit at least two regions and six countries around the world. Carletti was one of fourteen UW students to receive the fellowship worth $20,000.

Carletti grew up in Seattle and is preparing to graduate in June with an undergraduate degree in finance from the Foster School. He plans to leave for his eight-month adventure sometime in September or early October and will travel to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Antarctica, Argentina and South Africa. He first heard about the fellowship as a freshman through the Honors Program. After studying abroad in Italy and Spain for a summer and participating in an Exploration Seminar to China, he knew he wanted to travel more.

His travel objectives are to appreciate the natural beauty of these places, engage in dialogue with local communities, and participate in sports to learn to understand their role in the lives of other peoples and cultures of South America and South Africa. He is also interested in improving his Spanish while he’s in South America. And he’s visiting Antarctica because he has always wanted to visit all seven continents. He said, “I also want to use the opportunity to focus on one of my passions: writing. I want to write about my experiences, as a mode of self-reflection and documentation for others, and to hone my art of storytelling.” He said he started his blog before his first study abroad trip and found it helped him view his experiences differently, especially as he documented them for others.

He expects the most challenging aspect of this trip to be the long periods of solitude. Venturing out of the Puget Sound for eight months will also be an adjustment, but it’s one he’s looking forward to.

When Carletti returns, he’ll pursue a master’s degree in human centered design at UW. His ultimate goal is to combine his business education with startups and writing. His advice to current students, “Study abroad if you can. Seek out those opportunities that expose you to other parts of the world.”

The Bonderman Travel Fellows were established in 1995. The aim is to expose students to the intrinsic, often life-changing benefits of international travel. While traveling, students may not pursue academic study, projects or research. UW graduate students, professional students and undergraduate students are eligible to apply. In total, 207 UW students—127 undergraduate and 80 graduate and professional students—have been named Bonderman Fellows, including the 2014 fellows. Look for future blog posts from Carletti next year as he shares his journey with us on the Foster Blog.