As one of the largest MBA student clubs at the Eli Broad College of Business, the Broad Consulting Club has attracted more than 80 students as active participants for the 2019–2020 school year. “We ended up with just over half of the MBA incoming class signing up, which was amazing,” said Liz Cullen (MBA ’20).
As the vice president of membership and events, Cullen manages Broad Consulting Club dues, recruitment and event logistics, from booking rooms to dealing with budget issues.
She also works closely with Broad Consulting Club President Sanchit Jain (MBA ’20) and three other executive board members to create club resources.
“The most rewarding part is giving back to students through networking or job opportunities, assisting in career provision and offering a chance to have fun with peers, which adds immense value to the learning experience,” Jain said.
As the face of the organization, Jain leads club meetings and coordinates with the executive board and other stakeholders, such as faculty and staff. The role has sharpened his multitasking skills as well as his understanding of the importance of accountability and effective communication among members of a diverse team. These lessons will serve him well after graduation as he pursues a career in consulting or global operations and supply chain management.
Focusing on real-world skills
Although the club’s name may be a little misleading — some assume it’s only for students who want to pursue consulting — every student can find value in membership. “This year, we made it our mission to expand the club’s objectives,” Cullen said.
After club members noticed an increased use of case interviews during job searches and knowing that students were trying to tackle this type of interview style on their own, the Broad Consulting Club decided to focus on building relevant analytical skills.
Although case interviews originated with consulting firms, many MBA students now experience this structured interview style as part of the job-search process, whether they’re applying for a position in marketing, human resources, supply chain management or one of a slew of other fields.
“The case interview process has to be practiced — almost rehearsed,” Cullen said. “It’s like a problem-solving exercise.”
As tests of intelligence, communication, creativity, decision-making skills and business knowledge, case interviews pose hypothetical business challenges designed to mimic life on the job. During the interview, the candidate is asked to analyze, address and propose solutions to the challenge. There’s no right or wrong answer; instead, case interviews help interviewers gain insight into how candidates think.
To help students prepare, Broad Consulting Club board members Patrick Schuiteman (MBA ’20) and Tony Felder (MBA ’20), alongside Jain and Cullen, set up a workshop led by Rikin Vasani, an expert who teaches case interview preparation. Club members could also choose to work one-on-one with a coach to practice the interview style.
“Second-year students were trained as coaches,” Cullen explained, “and every coach was assigned a few first-year students who wanted to learn.”
The coach training helped improve her own performance during case interviews as she built connections with first-year students, established a foundation for professional relationships and served as a mentor.
And even if some Broad Consulting Club members never encounter a case interview after graduation, Cullen said the process of preparing is worth it. “It’s valuable just to learn how to think strategically and logically as a businessperson. I think the case-interview format is something that can be applied to any business problem, which will come up over and over again in my professional career,” she said. After graduation, Cullen is headed to JPMorgan Chase to join its Chase Associate Program.
Although the group’s recent focus has been on case interviews, the Broad Consulting Club also connects students to many other valuable learning experiences outside the classroom, including recent workshops on Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint that teach students how to use these powerful tools beyond their basic functionality.
“We essentially changed the value proposition of our club this year,” Jain said. “And it’s paying off. The number of people who were able to secure consulting job offers or tech job offers has increased. The Broad Consulting Club helped students get more involved and get better results.”