This article originally appeared on Fuqua’s MMS student blog and is shared here with permission.
by Chris Niemasz, MMS: FOB ’21
Entering my senior year at North Carolina State University, fresh off a massive decision to not become a lawyer, I began my career search. After a handful of conversations and several (unsuccessful) interviews, I found myself more excited than ever about my future career path. I had been exposed to consulting, which appeared to be a perfect fit. The field appeared to line up neatly with my skills and personality, however, one glaring issue still existed: I had absolutely no experience in the industry.
Your first position out of school, clearly an extremely important decision, sets the trajectory for the remainder of your career. By no means are you “stuck” in this field or industry, but changing roles can be an extremely difficult process. With this in mind, I wanted to reaffirm my interest before committing to my next role, and I saw no better way than with some actual experience.
A Potential Consulting Career
This led me to the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP), a program which pairs a team of Master in Management (MMS) students with a second-year MBA student to complete a short-term (4-month) engagement with a client selected by Fuqua. From the student’s perspective, the goal of this program is to gain valuable, real-world experience in consulting to sharpen their skillsets and develop a deeper understanding of the industry.
My own personal experience has been with SAS, a trusted analytics powerhouse for organizations seeking immediate value from their data. SAS empowers companies to make more intelligent and impactful decisions by applying artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to the toughest business problems. The organization is headquartered in Cary, NC, right down the road from Fuqua, making it an ideal partner for all parties involved.
Time with SAS
The team and I have been working with the U.S. Energy & Utilities Division of SAS to help them uncover unmet customer needs in the midsize utility market. We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with some of the brightest minds in the space, and to have had the chance to learn about the industry while sharpening our consulting skillset.
Overall, I’ve loved the experience thus far, with it easing any doubt about my intended career. The SAS team has been incredibly helpful and supportive, articulating how they wanted us to succeed and grow from the experience. And on Fuqua’s end, the internal resources (project manager, Harshal Kachhy, and FCCP Class instructor, Stephanie Knight) were instrumental to our group’s success.
Stephanie, a former MBB consultant, has proven to be an invaluable resource. Multiple times throughout the course of the project, she met with our team to evaluate our progress and provide constructive feedback on our deliverables.
Why It Works
A large consideration regarding my interest in consulting was the opportunity to learn about a wide range of industries. The utilities space, an area not remotely on my radar before the project, has been interesting to work in, and it makes me excited for future projects.
Pursuing a consulting career, you’re often told of the demanding and fluctuating work schedule: 40 to 60 hours a week; some long nights and early mornings; team comradery, etc. However, you can only say, “I’m ready for that commitment” with so much certainty unless you’ve experienced a project for yourself. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I had some long nights and weeks over the past few months. While it can be tough at times, I can confidently say it’s been the, “least painful” of any similar situation.