Category Archives: Undergraduate

Student teams develop innovative solutions to increase profitability of the world’s largest festival

Photo of Winning Team
2014 Winning Team members Michelle Hara, Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, and Crystal Wang with Larry Calkins of Holland America Line

Did you know that during the 16 day Munich Oktoberfest an average tent with 7,500 seats sells over 4 million euros worth of beer?

This weekend at the  2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition, over 100 Foster School undergraduates grappled with how to increase the profitability and global reach of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest festival. The Global Business Center is pleased to announce that this year’s competition was a great success!

Teams played the role of outside consultants hired by the Munich Oktoberfest Organizing Committee to develop a strategy recommendation to increase profitability of Munich Oktoberfest. Teams spent 48 hours developing their background analysis, and on Saturday November 15th presented their recommendations to panels of community member judges. The top four teams were selected to move on to the final round.

After watching the final round teams present, the panel of six finalist judges determined a winner. This year’s deliberation was particularly challenging because each of the finalist teams had an insightful and innovative recommendation.

Team 2 members Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, Michelle Hara, and Crystal Wang, were named the 2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition Champion, and awarded $1,000. Their recommendation to increase profitability of Oktoberfest was to replicate the festival abroad, specifically in Munich’s Sister City, Sapporo, Japan. Their team determined through detailed analytics that a Sapporo Oktoberfest would prove successful due to existing infrastructure, socioeconomic factors and a strong cultural identity.

This year we had seven outstanding freshman teams participate in the ‘Freshman Direct Track’ of the competition, where only teams of Foster School freshman compete against one another. Judges were blown away by the extraordinary recommendations the freshman teams developed.  The title of Freshman Winning Team and an award of $500 was achieved by Christopher Cave, Carly Knight, Jennifer Louie, and Molly Mackinnon.  We are excited to see these students getting involved so early in their Foster careers!

The Holland America Line Global Case Competition is an introductory case competition and an exceptional learning experience for Foster School students. It provides an opportunity for students who have never competed in a case competition to ‘get their feet wet’. This year learning opportunities included a ‘how to approach a case competition’ training session, taught by Foster School faculty member Leta Beard, and a coaching round which provided teams the opportunity to get feedback on their presentation from business community and faculty coaches before presenting in front of the judges panel. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made the event possible!

Visit our website to find out more and learn how to get involved next year.

The Global Business Center would like to thank Holland America Line for their generous support of this unique educational event for Foster School of Business students. Holland America Line is a leader in the cruising industry and a longtime supporter of the Foster School of Business.

Foster’s Professional Sales Team takes 1st in national competition

Professional Sales Team
From left to right: Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Rick Carter (faculty), Meredith Barrett, and Natalie Jerome.

On October 15, Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Meredith Barrett and Natalie Jerome represented the Foster Professional Sales Program at the National Team Selling Competition (NTSC) hosted by Indiana University at the Kelley School of Business. The NTSC attracts 21 universities across the nation. Teams participate in a two-sales-call process in front of judges from sponsoring corporations 3M and Altria. Teams compete in three divisions with the top competitor in each division advancing to the finals. The University of Washington took top division honors and advanced to the finals, ultimately achieving a 1st place victory.

The 2014 National Team Selling competition demanded a large upfront time commitment by our students as they learned the complexities of selling, team work, presentation skills, and overcoming objections. Students learned how to digest the challenges and opportunities of a case and then, trusting the strengths of each team member, present the rollout of a private label product line. Numerous hours of training, rehearsing, and strategizing on this case took place prior to the trip to Indiana. Jack Rhodes, Director of the Foster School of Professional Sales, assembled a team of four seniors to represent Foster. Soon after, Jack engaged a study team joined by Foster’s Professional Sales Program Assistant Director Rick Carter, Joe Vandehey of Altria, Jeff Lehman of Mentor Press, and graduates from prior year’s competition spent many hours preparing the students for this remarkable competition. When asked what the best part of the competition was—besides winning—students agreed that it was the team experience and confidence gained in the preparation. Alex Crane received the MVP of our division and remarked, “of all of the training I’ve had in school, this experience was the best practical learning experience in preparation for the real world.”

About the Foster Professional Sales Program

The Foster Professional Sales Program provides students with the knowledge and real-world experience necessary to be successful in sales. This nationally ranked program teaches how to sell, manage, and lead. These skills can be used not only for your future career, but for your lifetime in business. Given a job placement rate of over 90%, this combination of interning and curriculum has proven to be invaluable for students as they graduate and enter the job market.

Meet the GBCC 2015 Student Leadership Team

2015 Endeavor Statement: We want to run the world’s best global business case competition for undergraduate business student competitors and UW organizers through active participation by the Foster Undergraduate Community, in order to create memorable experiences while promoting student leadership and cross-cultural interaction. 

Davis BrownGBCC Co-Chair: Davis Brown is a senior at the Foster school studying Finance. He is globally minded and is always looking for any way to get involved in international business or culture. Last year he had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Germany for 5 months. While in Europe he had the chance to visit many different countries, but he loved the culture of Barcelona, Spain and the amazing city life of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Davis hopes to one day work internationally and have the opportunity to improve his foreign language skills. Outside of the classroom, Davis enjoys exploring new areas in and outside Seattle, going to concerts, and searching for the best desserts in Seattle. He is extremely excited to be co-leading GBCC this year and cannot wait for the competition week to begin.

Marina OldfinGBCC Co-Chair: Marina Oldfin is a senior majoring in Information Systems, Operations & Supply Chain Management, and a Certificate in international Studies in Business (German Track). She recently studied abroad this last Spring quarter in Vienna, Austria.  It was an absolutely amazing experience studying abroad – and she made many new connections! She would love to visit Vienna again, but also travel to other places I have yet to go to. Marina is very excited to be a Co-Chair for GBCC this year and hopes to make it a memorable experience for everyone.

Carlie3GBCC Activities Manager: Carlie Anderson is a junior pursuing a degree in Business Administration at the Foster School, as well as a degree in Public Health. She hopes to apply these degrees in the future towards doing non-profit management abroad. She was lucky enough to study abroad in India, where she enjoyed riding elephants, seeing the Taj Mahal, doing laughter yoga and meeting inspiring individuals invested in social entrepreneurship. She has also traveled to Japan were she got to visit Hiroshima and try all kinds of exotic types of fish. In the Netherlands, she enjoyed biking at sunset along the canals. She is particularly interested in women in leadership and hopes to study women who are making change elsewhere in the world. Besides traveling, Carlie enjoys dancing, skiing and spending time with friends. She is super excited for the opportunity to be a part of GBCC this year!

Bonnie2GBCC Activities Manager: Bonnie Beam is a junior studying Marketing with a minor in Law, Societies and Justice. She loves people, being challenged and learning! One of her most recent endeavors was a four-month direct exchange in the small city of Pamplona in Northern Spain. A highlight of her time there was a trip to the Asturias region of Spain where she repelled waterfalls in the middle of a massive rain/thunder/lighting storm and wandered amongst the cattle in Los Picos de Europa. Not to mention becoming nearly fluent in Spanish while living with 3 Spaniards who were determined to make her a native speaker! With a desire to serve others, her passion comes alive at the intersection of business and healthcare. She hopes to find a career in the healthcare industry and leverage the skills she has developed both at UW and abroad. In her free time, she loves to cook, bake, explore the outdoors through running and kayaking and most importantly, dominate with board games. She is stoked to be one of the activities managers and is determined to make GBCC an unforgettable week!

Rebecca2GBCC Ambassador Manager: Rebecca Ruh is a senior studying Business Administration and International Business with a focus in Spanish, while also pursuing a Spanish minor. Having studied abroad in Santiago, Chile for a semester, and returning for a six-month internship this past fall, post graduation she is hoping to take the plunge and live and work in Latin America. Whether that be for a social enterprise, a consulting firm with a social impact sector, or Peace Corps, she is pumped for the path that lays ahead. Ready for winding through different cultures, new ideas, and a handful of challenges. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys spontaneous adventures, staying active through gyming/hiking/biking/all of the above, and appreciating the little things like dark chocolate on a rainy day…or every day. She is excited for her role as Ambassador Manager and is looking forward to the best week of spring quarter – GBCC!

SarahGBCC Ambassador Manager: Sarah Zdancewicz is a senior majoring in Marketing and International Business and minoring in Spanish and Comparative Religion. She considers herself the female “Rick Steves” due to her many trips around Europe over the past six years. She studied abroad in both Spain and Eastern Europe, and loves learning about all aspects of culture. She hopes to return to Europe post-graduation and intern with a local company, but is open to other parts of the globe as well. Other than traveling, Sarah loves to run, hike, pet cute animals, check out local concerts, and go on spontaneous adventures around Seattle. She is beyond excited to meet all of the competitors and show them UW and Seattle!

Kiersten2GBCC Competition Manager: Kiersten Bakke is a senior in the studying Information Systems and International Business along with a Spanish minor. She is passionate about sustainability issues and how companies can use developing technology and innovations to help their businesses grow. She studied abroad in Santiago, Chile for a semester and loved being exposed to the Latin American culture. After graduation she will be going abroad again, most likely to Southeast Asia with an AIESEC internship. During her spare time, Kiersten likes being active by hiking with friends, running, or doing anything on/near the water. She also enjoys a good book, trying new restaurants, and a good cup of coffee. She cannot wait to meet all the competitors and share Seattle with them!

VelascoGBCC Competition Manager: Stephanie Velasco is a senior studying Finance, International Business, and Spanish. She loves meeting people with diverse backgrounds, learning about different cultures, and traveling to places she has never visited before whether it’s to another country or a new restaurant down the street! Last fall, she studied abroad in the south of Spain in the beautiful city of Granada. Her most memorable moments in Europe were visiting family in Germany and Barcelona, eating macaroons while watching the Eiffel Tower light up, and bungee jumping from a bridge! Her dream career is to work for a non-profit organization that allows her to travel internationally and use her Spanish-speaking skills. Stephanie is ecstatic to be one of the competition managers this year!

Emily2GBCC Social Media & PR Manager: Emily Su is a sophomore at the studying Marketing and International Business. She was bitten by the travel bug when she toured Europe and Asia this past summer. Some highlights of her trip included riding a Segway in Croatia, wine tasting in Greece, going to the opera in Italy, eating the best dim sum in Hong Kong, and parasailing in Taiwan. Her weeks of traveling abroad sparked her passion for all things international. She plans to study abroad in Shanghai this summer and is looking forward to immersing herself in a new culture where she hopes to do business in the future. Emily is always up for painting, dancing, boating, sitting in the sun, and learning new languages.

The Carletti Expedition–Prologue

Guest post by Wilson Carletti, recipient of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship (read more about the fellowship and Carletti’s backstory here).

Wil Carletti I do not think there is necessarily a definitive “line,” that we cross and magically become adults; however, as I look around, I watch my best friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers (real, intelligent human beings) crossover from being merely faces in the crowd to the ones standing onstage. Better yet, they’re not just standing, they are dancing, celebrating, creating beautiful art, expressing themselves. They’re winning PAC-12 championships (and IMA championships), creating clothing lines, moving to faraway places, building companies, designing products, and literally saving lives. They are starting non-profit organizations, they’re becoming doctors, lawyers; they’re pushing their limits, as well as those around them. As I stared out the airplane window—the sun had just set behind Managua—I began to think about just how far I was about to push my own limits.

After landing and standing in line at customs, I found the shuttle that would take me to Granada. At this point, darkness made it difficult to take in much of the scenery, so I chatted with the driver a bit. While it seems as though Nicaragua takes the lines on the road a little more seriously than drivers did in China (I participated in an Exploration Seminar there), it took me awhile to get used to. I kept noticing buses with bright, blinking, colorful lights all over the front end – I asked the driver what that was for. Apparently it’s legal in Nicaragua, so why not? “You should see this place during Christmas time – the entire road looks like a Christmas tree,” he exclaimed.

We made it safely to the hotel, and, as I sat there, about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, I decided I would write to reflect on what was. I would write to grow, as I explore what will be. And I would write to inspire others to pursue what could be.

Of all the paths I described above, none is more worthy than the other; you do not have to be an astronaut or rock star (or go on an 8-month long adventure for that matter) to make a positive difference in this world. Find something that you are passionate about and share it with those around you. Find your stage.

I felt excited to try to find my stage over these next eight months. While I definitely felt nervous, I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was. I have been thinking about this for months now, and finally, I was ready.

The next day, when I awoke in my warm, humid hotel room in Granada, I felt like I had woken up from a long dream. I was a bit anxious – I knew no one and I was far away from home. Finally I strode confidently out onto the cobblestone street.

Adapted for the Foster Blog with the help of Wilson Carletti. More episodes to come. Follow his unabridged journey here.

Checking in on YEOC: the October session

For most, a pep rally followed by a mentor meeting, a college-prep workshop, and a talk on the power of networking with the Email Marketing & Promotions Coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks sounds like an action-packed day. For YEOC students, this is Saturday morning.

It’s the first official YEOC session of the year and things are in full swing. With “team building and networking” as the theme, students are introduced to the year’s first team activity: the Building Bridges Challenge. For this challenge, students are tasked with building a model bridge that stretches from Seattle to Mercer Island. However, there’s a catch—students can only use items found in their mystery bags. With a round of voting led by YEOC mentors Kainen Bell and Diana Lopez, the winners receive VIP Lunch access (first dibs in the lunch-line and a sit-down with keynote speakers), cupcakes courtesy of Trophy cupcakes, and bragging rights.

See a few pictures from the October session below.

YEOC pep rallyYEOC students

 

 

 

 

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YEOC students

 

 

 

 

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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.

Meet the 2014-2015 YEOC Mentors

This year’s crop of YEOC mentors and mentors-in-training share their majors, heritage, and more.

mcconnell-danielle Danielle McConnell, Junior
Major: Information Systems & Marketing
High School: Kentwood
Heritage: African American & Japanese
Activities: VP Of Information Systems for Association of Black Business Students (ABBS)
lopez-diana Diana Lopez, Junior
Major: Communications
High School: Wapato
Heritage: Hispanic
Activities: Boeing Internship and traveled to Ecuador last summer
Emmeline Vu Emmeline Vu, Junior
Major: Information Systems and Marketing
High School: Inglemoor
Heritage: Vietnamese
Activities: ASUW Board of Directors, TedxUofW, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, Campus Tour Guide, Concur Technologies Intern)
Irah Dizon Irah Dizon, Junior
Major: Human Resources & Operation & Supply Chain Management
High School: Mount Tahoma
Heritage: Filipino
Activities: Intern at Seattle City Light, Former Resident Advisor, Former Dream Project High School Lead
jeremy santos Jeremy Santos, Senior
Major: Finance
High School: Kentridge
Heritage: Filipino
Activities: Montlake Consulting Group, Foster Student Ambassador, Peer Coach
Jordan Faralan Jordan Faralan, Senior
Major: Marketing & Entrepreneurship with a Diversity Minor
High School: Oak Harbor
Heritage: Filipino
Activities: President of UW Hip Hop Student Association, Program Manager for ASUW Arts, Foster Student Ambassador
Joshua Banks Joshua Banks, Junior
Major: Finance and Accounting
High School: Washougal
Heritage: African American & Korean
Activities: Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity
Kainen Bell Kainen Bell, Senior
Major: Information Systems, Social Welfare
High School: Stadium
Heritage: African American
Activities: Director of
Service & Partnerships for
ASUW, UW Salsa Club,OMAD Ambassador, Intern at KPMG, Interned in Brazil
Karla Belmonte Karla Belmonte, Senior
Major: Accounting
High School: Highline
Heritage: Mexican
Activities: Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA), intern at INROADS
garcia-maria Maria Garcia, Junior
Major: Finance & International Business with a Spanish minor
High School: Royal
Heritage: Hispanic
Activities: Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA), intramural softball and soccer
Midori Ng Midori Ng, Junior
Major: Information Systems & Marketing with a Diversity minor
High School: Eastlake
Heritage: Chinese & Japanese
Activities: UW Relay for Life, Campus Tour Guide, Foster School Ambassador, Peer Coach, Intramural Volleyball, Case competitions
Nura Marouf Nura Marouf, Senior
Major: Supply Chain & Operation Management
High School: Shorewood
Heritage: Middle Eastern
Activities: Foster Ambassador, Fashion intern at Jahleh, National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), Case competitions
rodriguez-skyler Skyler Rodriguez, Senior
Major: Interaction Design IxD
High School: Inglemoor
Heritage: Filipino
Activities: IxDA spreading awareness of the importance of design and uncovering the importance of a collaborative learning environment
atafua-taupule Taupule Atafua, Senior
Major: Human Resource Management with a Diversity minor
High School: Auburn Riverside
Heritage: Pacific Islander
Activities: VP of UW Polynesian Student Alliance Organization, Student Resource Coordinator Lead at ECC, OMAD Ambassador, Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity
tina moore Tina Moore, Senior
Major: Accounting & Information Systems with a Diversity minor
High School: Henry Foss
Heritage: African American & Korean
Activities: Association of Black Business Students (ABBS) President, Foster Student Ambassador

2014-2015 Mentors-in-Training

Dre Fariñas Dre Fariñas , Senior
Major: Accounting & Information Systems
High School: Kentridge
Heritage: Asian American & Haida American Indian
Activities: Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA), OMAD Mentor, Intramural Football & basketball
Fabio Pena Fabio Pena, Junior
Major: Finance
High School: East Valley
Heritage: Hispanic/Mexican
Activities: Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA), Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Husky Leadership Initiative
Jo Yee Yap Jo Yee Yap, Sophomore
Major: Business Administration
High School: Interlake
Heritage: Chinese Malaysian
Activities: Dream Project, Resident Advisor, Ascend
lee-lander Lander Lee, Sophomore
Major: Accounting
High School: Inglemoor
Heritage: Chinese & Filipino
Activities: Sigma Nu Fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, Foster School of Business Ambassador
Vipo Bun Vipo Bun, Sophomore
Major: Accounting
High School: Renton
Heritage: Cambodian
Activities: National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), Association of Black Business Students (ABBS)

Learn more about the YEOC program here.

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.

YEOC students

 

 

 

 

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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.