Following our 5 students: Opportunity, travel and gratitude

Our students got a chance to refine their career focus. They got to branch out and start giving back to other students through their other work on campus. Most traveled overseas for leisure or for global business school experiences.

In fact, two of our five students—Alejandro Bolívar-Cervoni (Washington University in St. Louis) and Tite Jean-Pierre (University of Rochester)—met for the first time during an MBA exchange program in Germany.

“Over the past year and a half, we had followed each other’s own professional growth without having met in person,” Alejandro said. “When we finally connected in Germany for class, it was as if I was connecting with a long-lost cousin.”

With another Consortium Orientation Program just a few months away, and a fresh class of students about to begin business school, this is the last in our series of blog posts following five members of the class of 2018. They started at OP in St. Louis in June 2016. We’ve been following Alejandro; Elva Garza (Indiana University-Bloomington); Tite; Tazia Middleton (University of California, Los Angeles); and Tobby Yi (Yale University), who was unable to participate in this last installment.

How was the first semester of your second and final year in business school? Was it more or less difficult than you expected? Why or why not?

Tazia Middleton (right) with classmates at UCLA Anderson.

Tazia Middleton (right) with classmates at UCLA Anderson.

Tazia’s response was not unlike what her fellow class members at other schools reported: “The first semester of my second year was great because I could focus my energy in the areas that were most important to me. Having already completed a lot of my graduation requirements, I chose to take classes that aligned with my interests and dedicate my free time to leadership activities.”

Alejandro took a part-time job at WashU, consulting in the career center by helping students with mock interviews and editing cover letters and resumes. Elva made sure she hit as many guest lectures as possible, taking advantage of being a student.

“This was when I really started getting to work and had the opportunity to impact change with some of the organizations that I took leadership roles in,” Tite said.

To what degree are you preoccupied at this point with finding a job after graduation? Have you already found one? Can you talk about it? If not, how are you feeling about where things stand right now?

Tite and Alejandro are in the process of weighing some opportunities. Meanwhile, Tazia and Elva (pictured at top) were offered—and have accepted—full-time jobs at the places they worked over the summer as interns: Tazia at Boston Consulting Group and Elva at Starbucks.

“I have identified key factors in my job-hunting process: coaching and mentorship; location in a large city; and career progression,” Alejandro said. “I have been very grateful to Olin alumni, who despite their busy schedules, have made time for me to chat with them about their day-to-day roles and about the corporate cultures across their companies and departments.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your business school experience up to this point? Why?

Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni (WashU) traveling in Lisbon, Portugal.

Alejandro Bolivar-Cervoni (WashU) traveling in Lisbon, Portugal.

“There is not enough space to talk about this,” Elva said. “I would have to say it’s the people I have met along the way, new lifetime friends, professional connections and inspiring industry leaders. Oh! And traveling!”

Tite made note of the travel as well. Her program at Rochester gave her opportunities to visit Israel, South Africa and Germany. Likewise, Alejandro is spending his spring 2018 semester studying abroad at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“I was interested in studying abroad because in today’s increasingly globalized environment, a deeper understanding of other business cultures is necessary,” he said.

For Tazia, her experience was enriched by the chance to work directly in the diversity and inclusion space at UCLA as the vice president of diversity for the Anderson Student Association. “It gave me the opportunity to be a key decision maker on issues impacting the entire student body, as well as plan and host a conference for 100+ diverse prospective students,” she said.

Conversely, what do you wish you could “do over” now, with the benefit of hindsight?

At the same time, Tazia admits that she would have liked more time with her classmates. “As graduation nears and we all prepare to go our separate ways, I find myself feeling sad that I won’t be able to hang out with these amazing people on a regular basis anymore,” she said. “I’m definitely trying to make the most of my time with them during the final stretch.”

Tite may have come into business school too focused on where she thought she would be headed. “If I could do over any aspect of this MBA journey, it would be in finding the balance between choosing, following, and pursuing a career path—while keeping an open mind and exploring different functions and industries,” she said. Focus is great, but “it is just as important to keep an open mind and dedicate some time to exploring unchartered territories.”

Has The Consortium network been helpful in aiding your progress in business school? Why or why not?

Tite also recalls that it was a Consortium alumna who helped her move business school from thought to reality. While OP was an exciting opportunity, she hopes that The Consortium can continue increasing its link with students, extending career resources, after they start business school.

At the same time, the network has been invaluable. “I recall many times when I reached out to a member or alumni of the network, at any member school, and received great responses and quick aid in my prompt,” she said.

Elva concurred on the immense value of the network—students who supported her through class as well as alumni “for helping me convert to a full-time offer” at Starbucks.

The CGSM classmates “were the people who I leaned on most when school got tough and recruiting seemed to be taking up all my time,” Tazia said. “We studied together, interview prepped together, and most importantly, let loose together.”

Finally, for Alejandro—who has family members who have been affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico—the connection has been a source of emotional, as well as career support.

“I have been honored to have been invited to speak twice at Consortium fundraisers in St. Louis,” he said. “I could not ask for a better forum to express my gratitude for how much The Consortium has transformed my life.”

In case you missed our earlier installments, here’s part one of the series as the students began business school (from Sept. 27, 2016); part two as they adjusted to the rigors of their programs (from Dec. 1, 2016); and part three as they were about to start their summer internships (on March 30, 2017). Finally, here’s part four as they reflected on the experiences they had over the summer—including their internships.