Navigating with No Prior Knowledge: A Foster Freshman Consultant Perspective
Before attending UW for the first time this year, I had never had any academic related business experience. The closet thing I had ever gotten to understanding the ins and outs of business was the many jobs I had throughout high school, most of which were restaurant related. Although I had no prior knowledge, I quickly became enamored with the structure of restaurants, the hospitality industry, and what it means to own your own business.
While I had been completing my freshman level requirements as a direct student, I began to crave this personable connection with businesses again like I had in my previous jobs. I knew that I was learning content that was related to the fundamentals of businesses and would all tie back to my interests in entrepreneurship, but I was having a hard time visualizing this new knowledge in the context of things I had already experienced.
However, one Friday night near the beginning of spring quarter, I finally decided to explore the Foster Undergraduate page on Canvas and read through all the announcements I had been lightly skimming through my daily emails. I was amazed – I had never realized that there were so many opportunities and activities from Foster outside of school work/research/jobs and internships. I didn’t stop reading until I finally found what I had always been looking for. The post that caught my eye titled itself about Foster Consulting, which I had never been sure of what it was, and it said to “join us this quarter with a focus on Food & Beverage businesses.” I couldn’t have applied faster.
Even with all my initial excitement of applying, and even more excitement getting accepted, I had no idea what the next quarter held for me. I had never known what it meant to be consulting a business, or how to talk to and work with a business on a purely professional level. However, once I began to talk to my peer consultants and project manager, I knew things were going to be okay. In fact, they were more than okay; the Foster Consulting Program was one of the most valuable things I learned from this year. Not only did I get to learn more about topics that are not necessarily available at Foster as a freshman through regular classwork (such as marketing/customer acquisition/branding/finance), but I also learned what it meant to work as a team to solve real world issues that business owners are faced with daily within our community. Working directly with our client and figuring out the best way to alleviate their issues and concerns was an experience that is simply irreplaceable.
If you come across this post as a freshman or as any student at UW, and not sure if consulting is something you may be good at or unsure if you fit in this environment – I encourage you to give yourself a chance and try. Maybe it will be like for you where it was for me, where the consulting’s focus is something you have already had experience in outside of school or it is something you are interested in. Or maybe it will be a topic or industry you have never even fathomed working in. Regardless of what it is, I hope to inspire you to look at all your opportunities at Foster and UW. Find one that you can learn about business, your community, and yourself.