There’s no mention of consulting in my Fuqua application essays. I think I said I was going to graduate and open up a zero-waste resort on an island powered by renewable energy. While there have been plenty of opportunities to explore this kind of entrepreneurship — Dan Heath (co-author of “Switch” and “Decisive”) led me through several conversations about business plan viability — I knew I had to change direction when I first heard about consulting, a magical career where you solve problems for a living.
I had the amazing opportunity to spend this past summer at McKinsey & Company. I spent 10 weeks working on a team addressing a challenge in the telecom industry. It was all the brainstorming sessions and feedback, long hours, PowerPoint slides, and creative problem-solving that I thought it would be. Between that and the vibrant local food scene, I’m delighted to say that I’ll be returning there when I graduate!
Turns out that I ended up using, and improving upon, a lot of what I had learned in my first year at Fuqua, including:
- How to give and receive feedback: I had an informal feedback session with my engagement manager every Thursday evening, usually over ice cream. It took me back to feedback sessions with my C-LEAD team and my COLE Fellow during first year. Was I making sure every piece of feedback I gave was actionable? Was I dialing down the defensiveness when faced with something I could improve upon (hint: for me, it’s public speaking)?
- How to speak in front of important people: The previous comment notwithstanding, I was very glad to have taken Management Communications before my internship. When the guy who reports to the COO asks you to summarize today’s results, it needs to be loud, clear, organized, and short. This summer, my team helped me to build upon these skills by creating opportunities for me to do all of the above without panicking.
- How to use Excel: I thought I knew a little something-something about Excel before I came to school, but looking back on it, that consisted of putting numbers into cells and not much more. I ended up doing a daily report this summer that combined 4 different data sources, which would have been nigh impossible if I hadn’t taken Business Computer Applications and Information Management. I still don’t have the hang of navigating Excel using only keyboard shortcuts the way the analysts do, but a girl can dream.