Maya Taishidler, BBA 2018
Similar to many students, I entered Schulich expecting to specialize in accounting and get a CPA. The opportunities in accounting appeared to be very exciting; great firms and fun cultures. Although I learned that the former is still correct, I realized that my interests may not necessary align directly with opportunities in this field. In other words, I learned that instead of working to become a future CFO, my personal interests align more closely with the CIO or the COO roles in an organization (both are really important, but they are widely different). My summer audit opportunity allowed me to play the role of a client server, and this position helped me identify the work I want to be doing when I serve others. So, instead of identifying whether revenue is accurately reported, I wanted to help a company find ways to drive revenue up.
I spent my summer learning, asking questions and meeting many people for coffee. I realized that my passion for solving problems and serving clients would fit well in the field of consulting. Moreover, consulting offers the opportunity to constantly learn, work in teams and be challenged- three very important elements!
Finally, consulting work is also often high-impact work. Consulting companies tend to help organizations solve very pressing and complex issues. In this field, impact can be large or small, but having an impact is the core reason as to why I am energized to get my day started in the mornings. Therefore, to ensure that I am happy in the workplace, joining a field with the potential of making an impact is something I value strongly.
At Schulich, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to explore all areas of business during tge first and second year. This is very important if you want to pursue a career in consulting, as you need to be well rounded and have a good understanding of the different business focuses. While preparing for the case interview, you will notice that case topics can involve any, or a combination of, business subjects. It is not unusual to solve a problem that includes managerial accounting, marketing and OMIS concepts altogether. Since the case interview is a good representation of the work itself, how you feel when you practice for your interview should serve as a good indicator as to whether you will enjoy the work itself.
As you enter your third and fourth year of study, I would recommend taking courses that you enjoy the most. It is not important to specialize in anything particular, but rather take classes that will provide you with the toolkit to add value when solving problems. I personally found SMGT 3000 (Strategic management) and FINE 3100 (corporate finance) highly relevant when preparing for the case interview. However, it is also important to remember that your fellow consultants are not all business majors; many consultants have a background in the sciences, engineering and the arts. Therefore, while the course content is truly important, your ability to think critically and problem solve is key.
Key pieces of advice:
If you are a student who is considering a career in consulting, I would provide the following advice:
- Figure out what you value and what will make you happy. This can take years of self- exploration and reflection, but the best you can do is try to synthesize your past experiences and draw conclusions in the future. Write your findings down and update them once you learn more about yourself.
- Talk to people and learn more. Message upper year students or recent grads for coffee to really find out if your interests and passions (tip #1) can be applied in consulting. I have learned that although the Schulich consulting alumni base is small, it is very strong and will always be there to support you. Please do not be shy when you are reaching out, but ensure that you are polite and respectful in the process.
- Take your classes seriously. Besides having a high GPA, what you learn in your courses will actually be applied in the real world. Enjoy class and make the most out of every day.
- Network with consulting firms. It is hard for a Schulich student to get his/her foot in the door, but it’s not impossible. If you work hard to connect with consultants and get to know firms, you will have a good chance of landing an interview.
- Prepare for the case interview. Make sure you can allocate over a month of intensive preparation for the case study. I would also recommend getting a buddy to help you practice.
- Trying your best is all you can do. This industry is super competitive and so many qualified candidates apply for consulting gigs. So, work very hard and know that in the long-run everything will work out.
I hope you found my journey and advice valuable, and I wish you luck in your future endeavors.
(Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions).