During this past winter quarter, I had the opportunity to be one of four freshman consultants selected to partake in the UW Foster Consulting Program hosted by the Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC). This amazing opportunity not only allowed me to gain firsthand insight and experience into a real-life consulting project but also allowed me to build upon my time and project management skills along with my interpersonal skills in working with a team of like-minded individuals. But the best part? Being able to utilize my critical thinking and analytical skills to help support a local Seattle business, and directly impacting businesses in underserved communities. With the help of countless industry professional mentors, I was able to have an incredible first experience into not just what the UW Foster Consulting Program offers for its students, but also a real-world look into how to effectively conduct a consulting project in a given timetable.
The amount of skills I have personally developed and refined during the course of my 6-week consulting project is astonishing. Coming into this program with little to no professional experience, especially in the field of consulting really added to the pressure of having to perform well and keep up with the rest of my team. But with and support of my team’s professional mentors, the guidance of my Project Manager, and the prior experience brought to the working environment by the fellow members of my team, my transition into this program as a first-year freshman was made seamless. From case workshops presented by Accenture throughout the course of the program as well as professional training from partners such as West Monroe, catching up to speed about the key skills used by industry professionals in many aspects related to consulting was very straightforward, even for a beginner like myself. Weekly deliverables in accordance with the client’s needs and wants were broken down into simple but effective methods, building upon my critical thinking and time management skills to finish work on a deliverable in a timely manner – an essential skill in any business-related field. And being able to connect with the client on a personal level through multiple in-person meetings as well as site visits sharpened my interpersonal skills on many levels: communication, writing, composure, professionalism – to name a few.
The opportunity to work alongside driven, like-minded individuals alone was enough to make this experience worth it. But doing so in this 6-week project alongside these other small but impactful factors such as professional mentoring from industry individuals, case workshops to strengthen essential consulting skills, the amount of development and growth associated with working in a real-life consulting project, the exposure to the business world, and most importantly, connecting with local entrepreneurs in hopes to make a positive impact in my local community made this experience more than worth it. And for someone such as myself, an aspiring freshman with little to no professional experience in the field of consulting, I couldn’t ask for a better first experience. For those of you looking for personal growth as both an individual and a person looking to gain experience in consulting, where better to start than the Foster Consulting Program?
Guest post by Elian Chen, Freshman (class of 2023) and UW Foster Consulting Program Participant.