Penn’s United Minorities Council and business fraternity Phi Gamma Nu co-hosted a two-day information session and workshop for students from marginalized backgrounds who are interested in consulting.
More than 100 students attended the hybrid event to listen to four Penn alumni share their personal experiences in consulting and the skills they believed aided them in their career successes.
College senior and UMC programming director Oliver Kaplan said the event was held to help students from marginalized backgrounds realize that they too can make it in big-name consulting firms if they have the right skills.
The second day of the workshop helped students learn about the skills that they need to succeed in consulting — from having a strong résumé to learning how to prepare for case interviews.
The information session started with a general introduction to consulting as a career, including distinguishing between the types of consulting firms, the progression of a typical consulting career, and what skills are relevant for careers in consulting. The event then switched gears to focus on the experiences of the four Penn alumni and guest panelists who are currently working in consulting.
Wharton junior and UMC chair Jessica Liu, who led the event, said the first day of the workshop was meant to inspire and empower students who identify with marginalized groups.
“A lot of students from underrepresented backgrounds don’t really have the resources or knowledge that they need for careers in fields like consulting,” Liu said. “I really wanted to bring that knowledge to minority students, and give them the opportunity to learn from these amazing industry professionals.”
Panelist Gizelle Gopez graduated from the College in 2005 with a double major in Political Science and Urban Studies and a minor in Asian American Studies. After earning her Master’s in Public Health, she began working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2018, she started working at Deloitte Consulting in Government and Public Services.
Since Gopez did not follow the typical path to consulting, she provided advice to students interested in pursuing consulting as a career from a non-business standpoint. She emphasized that students should focus on embracing their differences in education, which can be an asset to consulting firms. Students with majors in sociology or international relations – both of which she said Deloitte hires – can bring different perspectives to the table than someone with a major in economics or finance.
Audience member and College freshman Amanda Cui said she valued the opportunity to hear about Gopez’s non-traditional path to consulting, showing her that the path to consulting does not necessarily have to be a linear one.
“Even though [Gopez] majored in a subject that is usually not something that leads to consulting, she ended up working in consulting at this big-name place.”
Panelist Ernesto Rosales graduated from Wharton in 2019 with concentrations in Finance, Marketing, and Management, and a minor in Latin American and Latino studies. Since graduation, he has worked as a consultant at Oliver Wyman.
Rosales said he knew nothing about consulting or banking when he first came to Penn. He credits Wharton Latino for introducing him to the world of consulting.
Rosales added that his background allowed him to find his niche in his firm through getting involved in diversity recruiting and helping jumpstart a social mobility network where first-generation, low-income employees are able to connect with coworkers from similar backgrounds.
Panelist and 2019 College graduate Olufemi Palmer worked for a startup in Nigeria before working for Bain & Company. Like some of his peers, he had finance and investment banking experience through internships before entering the consulting industry, but as a first-generation American college student, he felt that there were differences between his experiences and those of his peers.
He noted that while interning over the summers, while his friends often discussed plans of where to go out on the weekends, he was sending money home to support his siblings.
The information session concluded with a question-and-answer period where students asked about advice for summer internships and learning skills that can help them pursue consulting as a career.
Following the event’s closing, Cui said that as a FGLI student, she was grateful for the opportunity to learn from the four panelists who also came from FGLI backgrounds.
“It gave me a lot of hope to see that the panelists were able to work for these big-name companies even though they came from this background that is fairly similar to mine,” Cui said.