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Consulting Trek Helps Students Network at Major Firms

Oct 26, 2018
Two first-year MBAs share their thoughts on the trip to Atlanta, where they met alumni from Bain, BCG, Deloitte, and PwC

By Kara Sherrer

Every year around fall break, the Vanderbilt Business Career Management Center (CMC) plans a day-long Consulting Trek to Atlanta. While there, current MBA students learn about the different firms and network with alumni and other practitioners. This year, students visited Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Deloitte, and PwC all in one day. Two first-year MBAs — Ben Burkeen and Katie Smigelski — reflect on the experience below in their own words.

Ben Burkeen (MBA’20)

Ben Burkeen

The Atlanta Consulting Trek offered me an inside look into some of the premier management and strategy consulting firms in the Atlanta area. Meeting with Owen alumni at those organizations enabled me to establish connections I would not have had otherwise. As someone who didn’t have previous connections in the consulting space, I found these interactions to be invaluable as I began to dive into the networking-heavy consulting recruiting process.

At each stop of the trek, my classmates and I were offered office tours of each firm. These walkthroughs helped me to get a feel for the culture of each organization and to identify firms where I felt I would fit best. Similarly helpful were the Owen alumni, who gave straightforward answers to questions about the interview process, travel, and work-life balance. In a recruiting season full of information sessions and interviews, it was refreshing to hear from alumni that had recently been through the same gauntlet my classmates and I are going through now.

Networking with Owen alumni, spending time with my classmates, and gaining valuable insight into the industry made this an impactful experience for me. I would highly recommend career treks to any incoming Owen student. —Ben Burkeen

Katie Smigelski (MBA’20)

Katie Smigelski

It’s hard to differentiate between consulting firms and gain a comprehensive understanding of the different cultures by just visiting each company’s website, which is why I decided to go on the Consulting Trek to Atlanta. Meeting current employees, as well having the opportunity to tour each office, allowed me to see the diverse qualities of each firm. It was great to see the different set-ups, as well as witness the interactions of current employees, to gain a better understanding of team dynamics within the firms.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to hear from Owen alumni.  Knowing these people were once in my shoes and were excited to help current Owen students created a very comfortable environment to seek recruiting advice and ask any questions regarding the company or the process for interviewing. My fellow students and I gained valuable insights around how to approach a case interview, as well as how different consultants handle the demands of the career.

Coming out of this trek, I now have contacts at each of the firms we visited. I have already reached out to several of them and heard back immediately, which really speaks to me about the value of the Owen community. I feel more confident in moving forward with consulting recruiting knowing I have more information on the firm and a group of current consultants willing to help me along in the process! —Katie Smigelski

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