At Fuqua we have many options when it comes to spring break. Many of my peers embarked on journeys to tropical climates. There was also a ski trip — dozens of MBAs descended upon unsuspecting Park City, Utah, for 6 days. Still others joined formally sponsored trips through Fuqua’s Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE), and traveled to South Africa or South America. I opted for an entirely different experience, joining the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP). It’s an “experiential” opportunity for class credit.
For FCCP, groups of students are paired with a corporate client and over the course of the two spring terms, engage in a real-life consulting project. The projects run the gamut of what a real consulting engagement would be like. The big perk of FCCP is location. Opportunities are available both locally and internationally. This year, international projects included clients in South Africa, Brazil, and China. Students with an international project traveled abroad for spring break to work with their client in person. Fuqua offered dozens of potential projects, and I searched for one that aligned with my own passions, international travel and the non-profit space. I opted to work with a client in Shanghai, China, which provided the opportunity to explore a new city on a continent I have only visited once before. I worked with a team to improve a business plan for a fledgling non-profit client.
The Prep — Spring 1 Classes
Unlike some other spring break opportunities, FCCP isn’t all fun and games (all the time), and it takes a lot more preparation. Spring Term 1 is very busy for FCCP teams. Over several months, my team scoped our project, agreed on deliverables to our client, conducted copious amounts of research and outlined our 2-week trip to China. Our goal was to maximize our time on the ground during spring break in order to deliver the most value possible to our client. The FCCP classes provided the skills critical to success. In particular, classes showcased Fuqua’s strong relationship with Deloitte’s strategy consulting practice. Three classes were taught by practicing consultants who provided us with some of the foundational skills we would need to navigate the client relationship, including effective engagement management and international research techniques.
The Trip — China for Spring Break
My team of 5 and I left for Shanghai the day after our Spring 1 final exams. Eighteen hours of travel later, we hit the ground running. Here’s a brief outline of our trip:
Days 1-4 Working Days: Client meetings in Shanghai
Days 5-7 Pleasure Days: Flight to Beijing for cultural/historical tour and much needed R&R
Days 8-12 Working Days: Client meetings in Shanghai with final presentation to client on day 12
Day 13 Pleasure Day: Free time in Shanghai to explore
Day 14 Return Home
As you can tell, we were pretty busy. Week one consisted of heavy working days, typically including rounds of interviews with stakeholders followed by several hours of synthesizing and discussing data collected. During this time, we made sure to enjoy Shanghai through its food, after all, even busy students need to eat! And Shanghai is a city where a student can eat! The highlights of our days included stops at 5-star restaurants and incredible street food vendors.
Halfway through the trip, we took time to enjoy our break and traveled to Beijing for some sightseeing. Highlights included a trip to the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall — all breathtaking spots that I highly recommend visiting. The trip also provided critical team building time, when we were able to step back and reflect on what we had accomplished thus far and determine a path forward.
The Results – Life as a Consultant
Week two culminated in a final project presentation. We wrapped up loose ends and final interviews, created our final presentation and delivered our final product. I wish I could elaborate more on the process, but as with all consulting projects, much of our work was confidential. However, this piece I can share with you — the experience of FCCP is a true Fuqua experience and a global experience. While working during spring break may not sound like fun to you — FCCP is certainly something I would recommend. It’s a chance to gain some real-life work experience and simultaneously travel internationally with a group of your amazing peers.
This summer I am heading off to an internship at The Boston Consulting Group to try my hand at consulting full-time. FCCP and Fuqua provided me with a safe environment to explore the profession prior to my internship. I left China feeling like I had really learned about what life could be like as a consultant; I am now better prepared to handle the rigors and stress of the job. I also left China grateful for the chance to experience two of the world’s most amazing cities and their vibrant cultures. There aren’t many places outside of school where one can easily find such an experience.