How to Choose a Consulting Firm: An MBA Student's Experience
February 14, 2017
When it comes to choosing an employer, there are many factors to weigh—especially when you have the kind of education and experience that employers will compete for. Melanee Swanson, a 2nd Year MBA student at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, is in exactly that position. A former intern with Deloitte Consulting LLP, she will be joining the organization full time upon conclusion of her MBA, in the Strategy & Operations practice in the Charlotte, NC office. In the first part of our interview, which we published earlier this week, Melanee talked about her career journey from ticket sales for the Charlotte Hornets to the consulting industry. In this, the second and final part, Melanee goes into more depth about her experiences as a Deloitte intern, and the factors that led her to choose Deloitte over the other available options.
Vault: Can you tell us a little about your internship experience? What attracted you to Deloitte in the first place, and what experiences at the organization convinced you that it was the right place to launch your post-MBA career?
Melanee: Over the summer I worked on a high-level strategy project for one of our clients in the sports practice helping them improve their corporate hospitality options at events. Throughout the summer I had some incredible opportunities – working, attending sporting events, meeting a number of Deloitte's clients across a variety of industries, and interacting with leadership at Deloitte, including the CEO!
What drew me to Deloitte in the first place was their commitment to their people. Before my summer even started, I had spoken with numerous Deloitte people through a few of the company's recruiting events, such as the Deloitte Consulting Immersion Program (DCIP) and the Deloitte Women's Leadership Launch (DWLL). Not only were both of those recruiting events held at Deloitte University, which is an amazing learning and development environment, but both events concentrated on training and developing the attendees – even though not all of us would eventually be Deloitte employees.
Those were extremely well-run and remarkable events. But what was more important and impressive for me was the fact that every time I met someone at Deloitte, I felt not only inspired but also at home. In my pursuit of a consulting career after business school, I was looking for an organization that would encourage me to be my best, as well as a place where I could learn and grow professionally. I felt that Deloitte was the organization that would help me to be my best and help me excel outside my comfort zone, in addition to fostering my growth and nurturing my development.
Vault: How do you think the internship prepared you for the full-time position?
Melanee: Although I know there are still a million things I need to learn to become a top senior consultant, I do strongly feel that my internship has put me in a position to succeed when I head back full time. Over the summer I was tasked with running my work stream from start to finish including all client deliverables, presentations, and communications. On the first day of the project I was given the overall client problem and a vague idea of what they were looking for by the end of my internship. It was up to me to scope out the problem, determine the milestones and deliverables, conduct internal and external analysis, and frame out the recommendation and next steps. It was an amazing opportunity to see a project from start to finish. I learned how to do a lot of the things I had never done before like set a project timeline and milestones.
Vault: Has the internship helped with your MBA studies (or vice versa)?
Melanee: The internship has definitely helped me with my MBA studies during my second year, especially for my extracurricular activities. Learning how to effectively run client meetings and scope out a project has really helped me in my role as Consulting Club president. I need to interact with management consulting firms, my peers, first years, UNC's Career Management Center, and administration daily, and my ability to set meaningful expectations and run effective meetings has helped the club accomplish more than I thought we would be able to this year. Additionally, I honed my verbal and written communication skills over the summer, and those are critical skills in all aspects of business school.
There were a few classes during my first year that really helped in my internship. A Consulting Skills and Frameworks class taught us how to break down a problem and how to back up your recommendation with data and research, which was immensely beneficial over the summer. In addition, in Communications class, we had to practice running presentations around a conference table with everyone looking at the deck on their laptops. I didn't realize how important that would be until I realized all of my client meetings would be done that way, and I was thankful for that practice! Now, during my second year, I am taking classes that round out my skill set, such as courses in operations and analytics.
Vault: We also spoke about your experiences managing a consulting business, and the fact that you'd had a lot of other consulting organizations as clients. Can you tell us a little about how that impacted your decision?
Melanee: The fact that I hadn't worked with Deloitte was one of the main reasons that I applied for the Deloitte Consulting Immersion Program (DCIP) in the summer before business school, as I wanted to see what consulting firms would be like on the other side. And DCIP was the reason that I went into my first semester of business school pursuing a career in consulting, particularly with Deloitte.