On April 2, Swarthmore’s 180 Degrees Consulting team received second place at the Penn State Abington case competition. With Jeff Tse ‘19, Simran Singh ‘19, Guihyun Byon ‘19, and Phyllis Lee ‘17, Swarthmore was the only liberal arts college to place in the competition. In case competitions, judges evaluate student teams’ ideas for solving real issues that companies are facing.
Overcoming a broken-down car and computer microphone glitches, the team prepared throughout spring break and spent 10 hours per week as spring semester kicked off.
The Swarthmore branch of 180 Degrees Consulting was founded by Lee in the summer of 2015, and it has come far, placing as finalists at the Wharton case competition last October.
Prior to founding 180 Degrees Consulting, Lee also founded Swarthmore Consulting Group (SCG) with a goal to work with Swarthmore alumni to gain hands-on experience in consulting and prepare students for a future in consulting through interview preparations. Lee then went on to create Swarthmore’s branch of 180 Degrees Consulting, which concentrates on actual collaboration with clients using its brand name.
Swarthmore has recently seen an increase in student engagement in events and student groups involved with finance and consulting. In the spring of 2016, Christine Kim ‘17 founded Redefine Her Street, whose website says it “provides support for undergraduate female-identifying students” interested in finance.
Career Services created a new event this spring called Jumpstart your Career in Finance and Consulting in response to this seemingly growing interest in those fields; 74 students registered for this event. According to Career Services, 36 students expressed interest in both consulting and finance, 24 students expressed interest solely in consulting, and 14 students expressed interest solely in finance.
The stereotypical major for a student pursuing finance and consulting may be economics or mathematics, but members of Redefine Her Street have expressed their interest in majoring in art history, chemistry, and political science according to the club’s Co-chief Financial Officer, Elle Chen ‘19. Consulting also attracts English, classics, and engineering majors, according to the list of juniors and seniors who signed up to be mentors in the event “How to Prep for the Recruitment Season in Consulting and Finance”.
“The current members of 180 Degrees Consulting come from diverse academic interests, from engineering to economics to computer science,” Lee said.
Nancy Burkett, director of Career Services, said that there may have been increased interest in finance and consulting. However, she thinks that a fairly consistent number of students apply to finance and consulting positions that Career Services posts.
According to Career Services, out of those who have registered for Swarthmore’s Career Services’ job search database in each class year, 18% of class of 2016 registrants, 12% of the class of 2017, 9% of the class of 2018, and 7% of the class of 2019 expressed interest in consulting.
“I think there are students who are exploring a wide range of fields […] that’s what Swarthmore is all about: coming in with an open mind and exploring where your passions […] will take you,” Burkett said in response to a possible increase in the number of students interested in these areas.
In many of the case competitions that 180 DC participates in, their competitors are teams from large universities. In their Wharton competition last fall, Swarthmore’s team placed as one of the top five along with schools such as NYU Stern, Wharton, and Yale. Lee said that Swarthmore’s group is much smaller than the student consulting groups in these universities, thus pushing them to learn from every competition.
Similarly, the small size of the community interested in finance and consulting at Swarthmore creates a culture where students learn from each other’s experiences.
“I like this idea of peer advising; these students who have been through this recruitment process successfully now helping their peers,” Burkett said.
Featured image courtesy of Phyllis Lee ’17, showing 180 Degrees Consulting winning second place in the Penn State Abington case competition.
Correction: Redefine Her Street was founded in Spring 2016, not 2015.
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