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Consulting Trek Offers Students a First-Hand Look at Top Firms

Nov 8, 2019
Three first-year MBAs share their thoughts on the trip to Atlanta, where they met alumni from Bain, BCG, Deloitte, and PwC

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. Three first-year MBAs — Ishan Gulati, Kaitlyn Barrett Wilson, and Collin Costello — reflect on the experience below in their own words.

Ishan Gulati (MBA’21)

Ishan Gulati

As someone who is looking at the consulting industry for the first time in their career, I am always searching for opportunities to enhance my knowledge of the industry and company culture in the space. The Atlanta Consulting Trek gave me the opportunity to network with Owen alumni and other practitioners from some of the top firms on their home turf.

In addition to visiting each of their offices and learning more about the company culture, we had a chance to do breakout sessions with senior consultants and managers to get a deeper idea of what consulting entails and how we could best prepare ourselves at Owen for both summer consulting internships and full-time employment.

The consulting space can be somewhat confusing for those who haven’t experienced it before, and many of the firms have different recruitment practices and cycles. Each of the firms gave us detailed information on how to recruit and what they were looking for from applicants.

Going into the Consulting Trek, I had a plethora of questions about how to optimize my applications and make the best use of my time leading up to (potential) interviews. After the trek, not only did I have answers to those questions, I had multiple contacts at each firm that I could reach out to if I had any doubts. Overall, I have a much better idea of what is expected and how I can best prepare for the summer and beyond! —Ishan Gulati

Kaitlyn Barrett Wilson (MBA’21)

Kaitlyn Barrett Wilson

I came to Owen seeking to broaden my strategy skillset and have an impact in business and the community. During the first few days of classes, the Owen Strategy & Consulting Club told us about the annual Consulting Trek to Atlanta, where we’d have the opportunity to meet with strategy consultants at five different firms, and I was immediately interested. Now, a few weeks after the trip, a few main benefits stand out to me.

First, meeting more practitioners, including many Owen alum, was very helpful in both learning more about the roles and building connections as I start the recruiting process. Many of the consultants were MBA students only a few years ago themselves, so they had very relevant experiences and perspectives to share.

Additionally, the trip helped me better understand the cultures and roles across firms. It can be hard to see differences when just talking to consultants on the phone or during their recruiting trips to Owen, but you can really start to visualize what working at each firm would be like when you visit the offices and talk to many team members.

Finally, I don’t think I’d be the only person to tell you that getting to spend time with my classmates was also a highlight of the trip. Traveling together was a great way to get to know some people who I hadn’t shared a class with yet. Because we had just finished up first mod exams from our first mod a few days prior, we were all excited to decompress and celebrate at the end of the trip. Owen really does feel like a family! —Kaitlyn Barrett Wilson

Collin Costello (MBA’21)

Collin Costello

Participating in the Consulting Trek provided us with a unique opportunity to get a first-hand look at the offices of many of the top consulting firms in Atlanta as well as network with the Owen alumni who are currently working for these firms. As many of us on the trek were career switchers, being able to see the offices and meet the practitioners in person gave us the critical insight to assess not only if a career in consulting is the right choice, but also which firms resonated with us culturally.

Hearing from alumni about their recent client engagements and about their experiences during the recruiting process was incredibly helpful. Learning about some of the projects currently in their pipeline opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes impact that consultants often have. Many of the younger alumni vividly remembered being in our shoes and had great advice for how to balance the academic demands of Mod II while also ramping up case interview preparations. I would highly recommend the Consulting Trek to any students who think they may want to explore a career in consulting.

The Consulting Trek was not all business, though! Following the conclusion of a networking happy hour hosted by one of the firms on Thursday night, I was joined by my classmates at a local pub to catch the second half of Thursday Night Football and to unwind before a packed schedule on Friday. Then after our last official event on Friday, many of us went to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a celebratory dinner to cap off the official end of Mod I. A few lucky students were even able to secure last-minute tickets for the Atlanta Braves playoff baseball game and rejoined the rest of the group after the game! —Collin Costello

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