Figuring out your future career is hard. Figuring out your future career in graduate school is even harder. Figuring out your future career in graduate school during a pandemic is just ridiculous.
To alleviate some of the pain associated with choosing a career path, EnventureSA organized the “Inspire” seminar series to give graduate students a window into different industries and career options.
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, EnventureSA held its third “Inspire” event to explore the world of consulting with the help of Dr. Jay An, a Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group, one of the three biggest global management consulting firms. Dr. An graduated with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and he successfully navigated the transition from graduate consulting to a top tier consulting firm.
Management consultants focus on helping their clients solve business, structural, and operational problems. Management consulting represents a huge and growing industry where many people with advanced degrees end up working in. Dr. An explained how consulting offered him a very attractive career option because of its similarities and differences with graduate school. He explained that a Ph.D. and consulting are similar in that both require good problem solving skills, and they are both based on a process which requires to identify an appropriate question/issue, gather relevant data, and interpret it to make an appropriate conclusion/recommendation. Additionally, in both graduate school and consulting, it is vital to be able to communicate complex ideas in a very clear way, whether it be to a dissertation committee or to a client.
Dr. An explained that because of these similarities, graduate school can help develop several crucial skills for consulting, making Ph.D. students good candidates for consulting companies. For this reason, he encouraged the audience not to be intimidated by the lack of business-specific knowledge when choosing consulting as a career option. On the other hand, Dr. An explained how working in consulting also differs in other aspects from a Ph.D. program. For instance, while graduate students focus on a very specific area during their research, management consultants tend to work on projects for very different clients and in very different fields. Even though this can make the job of a consultant quite challenging, Dr. An explained how working on new and different projects also makes his job very interesting and stimulating. Additionally, Dr. An pointed out that while a Ph.D. centers more around a single and direct relationship with a PI, in consulting there are additional dynamics with your team, your client, and your bosses, that one must be able to navigate.
The event ended with a Q&A where students from the audience were able to ask specific questions directly to Dr. An.
About The Author
Carlo Vanz is an international student from Italy and a first year Ph.D. student in the molecular immunology and microbiology discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program. He works in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter where he studies the role of iNKT cells and B cells in inflammation related to obesity. He is also a member of EnventureSA where he helps organize events to expose graduate students with professionals from the biomedical industry.