St. Olaf students find success in consulting careers
Recent St. Olaf College graduate Zequn (Charlie) Li ’16 says he was drawn to a career in consulting for a very simple reason: it’s all about problem-solving.
And Li, who landed a position with consulting powerhouse Deloitte before graduating, notes that the liberal arts education he received at St. Olaf provided the perfect training ground for a career centered on creative and analytical problem-solving.
“I learned how to formulate questions and hypotheses, how to apply different statistical methods to different scenarios, and how to think thoroughly in order to convince people with my evidence,” he says.
He’s not the only member of this year’s graduating class to find that these skills are highly sought after in the world of consulting.
Mariah DuBose landed a position at Accenture Consulting, Roger Ntawukulityayo at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Alec Paulson at Analysis Group, and Laura Schmiel at The Huron Consulting Group.
These 2016 graduates are the most recent class of students to have successfully landed careers in the consulting field. They join a stream of St. Olaf graduates who have also realized their ambitions in this most competitive of sectors, including Tim Tuscher ’15 and Shannon Cordes ’14 at The Boston Consulting Group, Zihao (Daniel) Pan ’15 at Deloitte, and Nick Evens ’14 at McKinsey & Company.
“The college and its faculty have introduced these students to a broad range of disciplines, have helped them develop and understand differing points of view, and have underscored the role that values and belief play in shaping human life and work,” says Leslie Moore ’77, director of the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career. “These students are well-prepared to listen to and respond to their clients, while keeping in mind the needs and interests of the broader community.”
Schmiel, who majored in mathematics and economics, notes that consulting places a high degree of importance on collaboration and teamwork.
“St. Olaf prepared me for this type of work because of the emphasis that many of my professors placed on group work,” she says. “Consulting is never done alone, and I know that I am well-equipped to handle any issues that may come my way.”
In addition to helping students sharpen their skills in the classroom, St. Olaf provides a wide range of resources and experiential learning opportunities that have helped many students make the transition from college to consulting.
The Piper Center’s Connections Program, for example, enables students to explore careers and network with alumni in cities across the country. Each city focuses on several career tracks and invites alumni in those fields to meet with current students.
Students who find consulting an intriguing career choice can go on the program that is offered in Chicago to meet alumni working in the Windy City.
DuBose, an economics and mathematics major with a concentration in management, was one of those who went on the Chicago program.
“It gave me the opportunity to connect with alumni at various consulting firms, one of which was Accenture,” she says. “Also, being able to get this exposure early helped me to discern my vocational interests in consulting and Accenture.”
St. Olaf students are also able to obtain experience in their chosen field before they step foot into the job market.
Paulson, an economics and mathematics major with a concentration in statistics, participated in research through both the Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) programs — developing skills that will be invaluable in his job.
CURI and CIR each offer St. Olaf students the opportunity to work closely with professors and other students to conduct research. Working with Assistant Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson, as part of a CURI project, Paulson studied the rates at which hospitals adopted technology. The results were presented at the international Atlantic Economic Conference in Boston.
In a world where companies are expanding into new markets at a rapid rate, a global perspective is becoming more and more important. Ntawukulityayo, an economics and chemistry major, participated in study abroad programs in China, Peru, and Panama during his time at St. Olaf. He also completed several internships — most notably one in Kigali, Rwanda, with Global Communities as a monitoring and evaluation analyst.
Those experiences played an important role in preparing him for his new career.
“The Boston Consulting Group is known for valuing a global perspective in their consultants,” he says. “St. Olaf helped me enhance my well-rounded personality, which is something that all major consulting firms are looking for.”