Foster Success Stories: From the Back Roads of Appalachia to Management Consulting

In August, Steve Tomick will be a management consultant at Accenture in Seattle, working in the firm’s communications, media, and technology group. But just two short years ago he was doing something very different.

Steve graduated from Wake Forest with a dual major in history and secondary education. He’s certified to teach high school social studies. But Steve never pursued teaching; rather, he chose to work with the Appalachia Service Project — a nonprofit dedicated to repairing substandard housing for low income families in the heart of coal country. His plan to work a single year quickly turned to six, and Steve found himself touring the country, trying to drum up support and volunteer commitments.

“I really enjoyed it and I was — and still am — passionate about the mission, but I reached a point where there wasn’t going to be any more career progression. At least not in the near future,” Steve explained. “I thought I would go get an MBA. I hoped it would accelerate my career. When I was looking at schools, talking to people, everyone seemed really supportive at Foster. I knew it would be a great spot to make a career transition.”

Steve credits the career management office. “[Career coaches] Jessica Ma, Elaine Newtson, and Jean Geckler helped me tell my story. My background is a little unusual, and I wasn’t used to speaking business language. They helped me connect the dots and communicate to employers.”

For his internship, he interviewed on campus with the healthcare giant Philips. It was his first time working in a corporate setting. “It was great. It helped me solidify my skill set and gave me confidence,” he said.

Still, consulting felt like the better fit for Steve. To get his role at Accenture, he leveraged his Foster classmates. “I didn’t intern at Accenture, but I had built up strong relationships with my classmates that did. They really filled me in and pointed me in the right direction during recruiting season.”

Steve also cites Foster’s Consulting Society. “They have great resources for case prep. But even more helpful was the alumni social events. I met a few people at Accenture, and it definitely helped me understand the culture.”

“I’m excited to start at Accenture this fall,” Steve said. “It wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t come to Foster.”