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Consulting season in full swing at University

Students network, attend workshops with Bain, EY Parthenon among others

Over 200 students crammed themselves into a lecture hall Monday night, many dressed in business casual, with stragglers forced to sit in aisles or squat near doorways.

As one student’s Google Doc read, this was the “Bain Case Interview Workshop,” and most in the room were focused on a mock-interview prompt: how to advise someone opening a frozen yogurt shop. The case closed and students filed out to an Insomnia cookie spread, with consulting season in full swing at Brown.

“The scene of pre-professionalism at Brown is growing,” said Jennifer Xu ’20. “People are putting more effort into trying to land a good internship.”

Monday night’s workshop was just one of at least ten networking opportunities and information sessions offered to students interested in consulting in the last week. Students flocked when opportunities arose: Over 200 students were registered for the Bain Info Session, over 220 for McKinsey and over 150 for EY-Parthenon, all in the last week, according to Matthew Donato, director of the CareerLAB.

While the University is known for its liberal arts education, many students choose to go the consulting route. From 2015 to 2018, University graduates employed in consulting has risen from 10 percent to 12 percent, according to data collected from CareerLAB. With the increasing popularity of the industry among students, fall recruitment season and the pressure that comes with it have become staple parts of returning to campus for many juniors and seniors. Firms usually make offers for full-time positions and internships by mid-October, with applications deadlines and two rounds of interviews taking place throughout the month of September and early October, according to Donato.

“Recruiting is competitive — for reference, we typically have around half of our incoming class filled with returning interns,” wrote Nicole Kaufmann ’18, a recruiter for EY-Parthenon, in an email to The Herald. She added that consulting accepts students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, which increases the number of applicants for only a few slots.

Without a formal business school, CareerLAB is tasked with helping students navigate the trying and complex recruitment process. This year, the center moved its consulting spotlight event to the fall season, as opposed to the spring. Here, students can participate in “speed dating” with recruiters from various firms.

“They really value the broad skill-set that many of our students bring to the recruiting process,” Donato said of consulting firms’ affinity for Brown  students, who tend to “approach problems in non-traditional ways.”

Similarly, the Collegiate Consulting Group started a weekly bootcamp this fall to train anyone interested in recruiting. “It’s to build a community (of) people who are navigating the interview process, either for internships or full-time,” said Leah Lam ‘21, a director in CCG.

Even with the resources available to prepare for the season, recruiting can overwhelm students. On top of interview preparation, many students feel that they need to take advantage of the info sessions and networking opportunities available with a wide range of firms. Coffee chats, which Xu participated in, can put students in a two on one conversation with recruiters. But they can be a trick to get into.

“The spots are pretty limited,” said Xu, who participated in one. “People really have to  sign up the minute the link is released.”

Samer Wahood ’21, who is going through his first year of recruitment, was taken aback by the exclusivity of coffee conversations. He went to CareerLab for a coffee chat, only to find he could not get in.

“They asked if my name was on the list, and no, it wasn’t,” Wahood said. “I realized it had been booked out a month in advance.”

After having gone through one year of recruitment, Jessica Zhu ’20 is revising her strategy.

“I feel like for juniors, there’s a vibe that you need to go to every single one,” she said. “Don’t feel the pressure to go to all of the events.”

For all of the buzz surrounding jobs at consulting firms, Donato hopes students will explore a range of job opportunities.

“I’ve been interested in how many students want to do consulting versus how many students do it,” he said. “A lot of students choose consulting or finance because they are interested, but also because they may not have a great sense of what the other options are out there.”



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