By Jong Eun Jung
Each summer, Vanderbilt Business hosts Accelerator® Summer Business Immersion, a month-long program where students from diverse backgrounds and different universities come together to complete four consulting projects for real-life companies. While some students from Vanderbilt do stick around for the summer program, many travel to Nashville from different colleges to participate in Accelerator. Below, Mathew Saunders (University of Alabama – Huntsville, BS’2020), Taylor Cobb (University of Virginia, BS’2020), and Patrick Wheeler (Sewanee: The University of the South, BS’2019) share their thoughts on Accelerator.
Why did you choose to apply to Accelerator?
Saunders: “It was very appealing to my interests. (The email I got) was basically saying that if you’re looking to grow what you currently know… (Accelerator) will expose you to all these different areas. It looked like kind of a psych way to get into a new area (since) I’m an Aerospace undergrad.”
Cobb: “One of my friends actually did it last year… And he said that he learned so many great things, especially working with a ton of people from different backgrounds… Back at my university, I’m stuck with a ton of business people. And I think it’s really good to gain experience or work with people that don’t necessarily have a business background, because I think people are trained to think a certain way. And just being able to work with someone (majoring in) psychology and classics has been really beneficial.”
Wheeler: “I’m an Econ(omics) major, so I’m exposed to some business. But I really wanted to fine-tune some things, and I wasn’t quite sure how operations worked since I’ve never taken an operations class or a marketing class or anything consulting related. And I wanted to learn how to present to a lot of people. That was huge for me.”
Why did you choose to come to Vanderbilt for this program?
Saunders: “I just knew that Vanderbilt the name carries a lot of magnitude. Not that I’m doing something for the name, but because I knew that (meant the program) was well-structured. And I knew that I would be getting the best worth out of a summer program at a school like this.”
Cobb: “I’m actually from Nashville… So I’ve known Vanderbilt for quite a long time… It was pretty honestly, convenience-wise, great. And then also kind of just being an amazing program. I was like, this works out perfectly.”
Wheeler: “Vanderbilt is an incredible university (and) place to learn. Nashville is a super cool city. A lot of my friends are working here now. It’s really fun to go out.”
How was your experience with this program?
Saunders: “It’s been very fast-paced and very informative. So I’ve learned a ton… It’s kept me engaged. I haven’t at any point felt disconnected.”
Cobb: “It has been one of the most invaluable experiences I’ve had. I’ve learned more in the past three weeks than I have in a semester at my business school back in Virginia. And I think it’s because there’s a lot of diversity here. And also, because once again, people are from different backgrounds and can bring in different perspectives.”
Wheeler: “It’s been great… I’ve never, never put in quite as many hours in one week… But I think it’s kind of what you need to do to get the full experience of consulting in actuality. I thought that was pretty good exposure for that. And then also the people here — I really wasn’t expecting such nice and loving people. (They’re also) very high-performance, high-work ethic, very motivated.”
How do you think Accelerator will help you after you complete the program?
Saunders: “It’s definitely exposed me to a whole new set of career interests. So I think that I will definitely go down a different career path because of the program.”
Cobb: “Public speaking — the confidence that has given me being able to present in front of 100 people. I had really bad anxiety. I used to not even raise my hand in class to speak. And so going out and doing this every week has been life-changing. Especially when you have such a fast turnaround, and you have to learn or like different things and learn how to present on those things.”
Wheeler: “I definitely know more all-encompassing… business functions in general. And I want to go into commercial real estate, and I remember in my internship last summer I wasn’t quite sure what some things were, like all the aspects of it… but now I’m really starting to get it.”