John Reichl, a senior at the Carlson School of Management, was on a similar type of consulting project last year with Luke Wilcox, now a second-year MBA, through an experiential learning program Carlson runs calls the Consulting Enterprise. Their team, part of the school’s Consulting Enterprise, consisted of four MBAS and one undergraduate (Reichl), who were tasked with working with then Secretary of State Mark Ritchie on developing a comprehensive financial model that would enable Minnesota to bring the 2023 World’s Expo – a pared down version of the World’s Fair – to the state in a decade.
Reichl, who made the switch from a neuroscience major to finance his sophomore year, said he had a steep learning curve on the project. The MBAs on his team put him in a data analyst role, where he did a lot of the so-called grunt work, like data gathering and analysis, he said.
“I was thrown into a fast-paced professional environment with MBA students who have been there and done this before,” Reichl said “ It was exciting and challenging for me to keep up.”
AFTER WORKING TOGETHER AT SCHOOL, THEY’LL WORK AT MCKINSEY NEXT YEAR
Wilcox, for his part, said he and the team appreciated having the younger Riechl on the team, in part because he was part of the target demographic for the Expo, and had fresh ideas on how to best reach out to college-age students.
“It was great to have someone on the team who didn’t have as much experience in the consulting world outside of an academic setting,” Wilcox said. “It’s a helpful experience for the undergraduate and it provides a high-quality worker for the MBAs on the team.”
The two expect the bond they formed working together on the project will have longevity; they’ll both be working next year at McKinsey’s Minneapolis office and hope to eventually be placed together on future company projects, they said.
‘THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY IN DEMAND FROM THE UNDERGRADS’
Outside of the more structured team consulting projects and mentoring programs, other opportunities at business schools enable MBAS and undergraduates to work together in less formal ways. For example, at Wharton, MBAs and undergraduate business students collaborated last year on the Wharton 5K to raise money for the American Cancer Society. They formed joint MBA and undergraduate marketing, logistics and planning teams for the event, and are organizing another 5K on April 11th for a different charity. The event was the first of its kind at the school that was organized by MBAs and undergraduates, said Lee Kramer, director of student life at the Wharton School’s undergraduate division.
“From the undergraduate side, the mentoring is something that is really in demand. They want this, and we don’t have to sell it too much to the junior class,” said Kramer. “The Wharton Leadership office has really pushed it to MBAs as a way to hone their leadership, coaching and mentorship skills. With the 5K, I think it is a symbiotic relationship in that the MBAs benefit from the undergraduates’ knowledge of how to implement such a large-scale, grand event for the community, They definitely learn from each other.”
MBAs also serve as a valuable resource when it comes to preparing students for job interviews. Every fall, Wharton’s undergraduate career services office hires 20 MBAs who’ve worked in different fields to do a full day of mock interviews with undergraduates, and every slot is usually taken, said Barbara Hewitt, senior associate director of career services in Wharton’s undergraduate division. “It is pretty popular because most of those individuals did recruiting for their companies before they came to Wharton,” she said.
‘MBAS & UNDERGRADS ARE TWO FLOORS APART BUT WE DON’T REALLY GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER’
That career insight from an MBA can be invaluable during the job search, said Lexi McClain, a senior at Kenan-Flagler who participated in a STAR consulting project last year. A number of MBAs from her STAR team gave her mock interviews that helped her prepare for interviews last fall with consulting firms. She also had more informal chats with them, in which they shared their experience working at consulting firms and prepared her for what she should expect her first few years on the job, said McClain, who’ll be working at Deloitte next year.
“MBAs and undergraduates are two floors apart from each other and in the same building, but we don’t really get to know each other, said McLain, now a STAR fellow. “It was really cool to get that perspective from other MBAs. They helped me network and get ready for my interviews. That’s something that doesn’t usually happen.“