Turn chatting into networking over winter break   

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Laura is an associate director of student career advisingBy Laura Myers, associate director of student career advising, serving students in the School of Communication and Bienen School of Music

Wherever your travels take you, be on the lookout for informal opportunities to network. Networking is all about learning from others, helping them get to know you, and following up to build relationships over time. Sounds easy enough, right? Here are some tips for networking over winter break:

1. Identify informal networking opportunities: Some of the best networking opportunities happen organically, when you don’t even realize you’re networking.

Airplanes: Flying somewhere? You never know who you may be sitting next to. Make small talk and see what you can learn about your travel buddy’s career.

Holiday Parties: Put down that hot chocolate and go introduce yourself to someone new! Don’t be afraid to take the initiative.

Family, Friends, & Neighbors: When catching up with family, friends, and neighbors, update them on your academic and career interests. Let them know what you’re studying, and what types of opportunities you find interesting.

2. Be curious and ask a lot of questions: This shows that you’re genuinely interested. People typically enjoy talking about themselves, and you can learn a lot from their responses.

Sample questions to ask:
What type of work do you do?
What is your background? What has your career path been?
What does a typical day or week look like? What are your major responsibilities?
What do you enjoy most about your job? What’s most challenging?
What sorts of internship or entry level opportunities exist in your industry?
What can I do while I’m at Northwestern to prepare myself for a career in the industry?
What do you wish you had known while you were still in college?
Is there anyone else you’d recommend that I connect with to learn more about the industry?

Questions for you to reflect on:
You should also be prepared to answer questions about yourself. Reflect on how your experiences both in and out of the classroom have shaped your academic and career interests. It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, but you can still practice articulating your interests, skills, and goals.

3. Follow up and follow through: A key goal of networking is to build relationships over time, and one conversation isn’t enough. Be sure to follow up with anyone you meet or speak with. Ask for their business card or email so you can send them a thank you note, and consider connecting with them on LinkedIn. If you told them you’d email your resume, make sure you follow through. Periodically follow up with them by sending interesting articles you’ve read that they may enjoy, updates on your progress at Northwestern, holiday greetings, or additional questions.

4. Use your resources and leverage the alumni network: In addition to the people you’ll see over winter break, the Northwestern alumni network is a great resource for networking opportunities. Check out the alumni network through Our NorthwesternLinkedIn, and the Northwestern Mentorship Program. You can search for alumni who live in a particular city, work for a certain organization, or studied the same thing as you. One of the easiest ways to initiate a conversation and start building a relationship is to ask for an informational interview. Remember to ask some of the questions listed above in #2.

Your NCA career adviser is available now through December 21 to speak with you about networking or other career-related topics. Appointments are offered in person or via Skype/phone. To schedule an appointment, log into Handshake. NCA will be closed for winter recess from December 22 through January 1, before reopening on January 2. Let us know how we can help! ​

 

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Advice from a Career Ambassador: Making the most of your job search this winter break

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Photo of Career Ambassador Phoebe, author of this blog postBy Phoebe Glowacki, NCA Career Ambassador

While industries like consulting and finance have set recruitment periods, many industries hire on an as-needed basis – nonprofit, policy, and arts and culture, to name a few. It can be stressful searching for jobs and internships in industries with a less structured recruiting process. In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the steps you can take during winter break to turn the job and internship search from a source of stress into an opportunity for self-exploration. You don’t need to be constantly scouring LinkedIn or Handshake in search of positions during break, but it will be worthwhile to make time to explore the career paths available to you.

Narrow the search

Searching Handshake can be a great way to find position openings, but with so many job listings, it helps to have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for. At a recent nonprofit career panel, Allison Park from Planned Parenthood emphasized that when hiring interns, she wants to know that applicants are passionate about Planned Parenthood’s cause. Take winter break as an opportunity to explore the causes you’re passionate about and consider what work environment you thrive in. If you’re still unsure, you can always make an appointment with an NCA career counselor/adviser who can help you with this process.

Connect

Connecting with Northwestern alumni who work in your field of interest can be a great way to learn about potential career paths and form valuable connections. Search for alumni from your major or industry on LinkedIn, then look up their email through the OurNorthwestern alumni directory. More often than not, alumni are happy to set up an informational interview and share their experience with you. Check out NCA’s Career Guide (PDF) for advice on requesting informational interviews from alumni.

NCA and the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) both offer programs dedicated to connecting undergrads with alumni. NEXT, a one day alumni job shadowing program, will be taking applications until Thursday, December 6, 2018. For a longer-term option, make a profile through the Mentorship Program to be paired with a Northwestern alum in your field of interest.

Investigate

When you begin to narrow down some organizations you’re interested in, get a sense for how they are anchoring their work. Go to their website, search for them on Glassdoor, and connect with alumni who have worked there. If you hear that the organization is undergoing radical changes, especially in the case of a non-profit, it may be a red flag that they are lacking stability. Find out where the organization has been, and where they hope to go.

Get prepared & get excited

While you’re completing your exploratory research, keep track of which organizations you are interested in. After an informational interview, write a note about how it went and what you learned. Be sure to reconnect with your interviewees by writing them a personal thank you note that sums up your conversation and what you learned from them. By keeping your research in order, you can feel prepared and even excited when it comes time to begin the application process.

Aim for growth, not perfection

Don’t forget that every application, internship, and job brings an opportunity to grow and learn about yourself. Take note of how the experience challenges you or allows you to use your skills in new ways. All this information can help you as you develop your professional identity and create your career path.

#InternsofNU SIGP Spotlight: Student Enrichment Services

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Photo of Gabby, author of this blog post.By Gabriella Rios

Gabby is a sophomore in SESP majoring in social policy.

Describe your summer internship.

Working for Student Enrichment Services at Northwestern included reviewing their website in order to find outdated information and broken links, compiling Wildcat Welcome care packages that include sheets and towels for incoming first year students, and preparing the free four-year Laptop Initiative for next year. I also helped clean and organize the SES office throughout the summer as well as helped the team migrate their files to Google Drive.

Explain how you learned about the opportunity. What resources were especially helpful in your internship search?

I learned about the internship through CareerCat (now Handshake). That was definitely my most helpful resource as I found all listings through there. However, before I found the SES listing, NCA was also great at giving me ideas on who to contact for possible internships and finding out what I should be looking for in an internship itself in order to best prepare me for my desired career.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

The SES office is just an all-around amazing, relaxing environment, and the staff includes only three other women, so everyone is very close. The people I met have all been passionate about helping the students at NU and enhancing their experience, which, as a student, I admire very much.

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

The NU Student Affairs staff puts in a lot of work during the summer to prepare for the next school year, which just shows their dedication and concern for the well being of the students. There’s a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work that needs to get done in order to have these programs and services available for students that we don’t think about very often.

What advice do you have for students pursuing internships that will help them be most successful?

Don’t get discouraged when you get rejected from an internship. It took me all of spring quarter to finally find the SES internship, not to mention it was the first internship that accepted me. I was rejected from several internships before SES took me in, but I’m thankful because I wouldn’t want to be working for anyone else.

As a 2018 Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) recipient, how did SIGP impact your summer?

My SIGP grant allowed me to pay off my entire rent for the summer so that I was able to focus on using my paycheck money from my other job for food and other necessities. It definitely lifted a huge weight off my shoulders because before SIGP, I was really stressing about how to pay it off.

Planning Your Pre-Med Experience

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Photo of career adviser Larry Jackson, author of this blog post.By Larry Jackson, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science and the science fields in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

If you are interested in attending medical school, it is important to try to build career related experience during your time at Northwestern. There are several opportunities that exist where students can gain exposure to the field of medicine and healthcare.

  • Volunteer roles at health service organizations. Volunteering is the most hands-on way to gain experience interacting with patients. Many volunteer roles exist in local hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Medical school admissions committees enjoy seeing volunteer roles in these settings as it shows you have a commitment to patient care and that you are less likely to be unsettled by the sight of bodily fluids and other physical ailments. Also, medical schools value applicants that have volunteered in settings with diverse patient populations as it demonstrates the ability to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and build relationships. Your NCA career adviser can assist you with identifying patient care settings and opportunities.
  • Participation in pre-med focused student groups. These groups allow you to get more exposure to the healthcare field to determine if you want to pursue a career in medicine. Wildcat Connection is an excellent resource to learn about these pre-professional groups.
  • Shadowing opportunities. Medicine has different practices and it can be useful to shadow physicians in practice areas that interest you. The Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) and the Northwestern Mentorship Program can be useful resources in exploring shadowing opportunities during the academic year and vacation breaks.
  • Academic research roles. Research work, whether independent or with a faculty member, is a common professional development activity for pre-med students. It offers the chance to strengthen one’s communication, analytical and project management skills while contributing to significant work that can make a lasting impact upon society. Students can explore research opportunities by talking with faculty in their areas of study, or contacting the Office of Undergraduate Research for assistance.
  • Health-related fellowships and corps programs. There are several corps programs and fellowships available where students can get exposure to the healthcare field during and after their undergraduate career. The Office of Fellowships can be a great resource in helping to identify opportunities.

Overall, exposure to clinical and research environments is just as important in the med school application process as your GPA and MCAT scores. Try to participate in as many of these activities as possible as it can help build your professional skills, knowledge and experience prior to becoming a healthcare practitioner.

3 Tips for Developing an Effective Job/Internship Follow-up Strategy

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Photo of career adviser Lynn, author of this blog post.By Lynn Galowich Page, JD, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP); Northwestern’s pre-law adviser

A common refrain I hear from students is: “It has been a week or two since I applied for jobs (or internships) I am really interested in and I have not heard any response yet from the employer. What should I do?’

Here are some best practices on how to follow up and reiterate your interest in a position.

1. Follow-up after two weeks with an email

You want to strike a good balance with sending follow-ups. Don’t be too aggressive and reach out after a few days, but don’t let too much time pass either, lest the employer thinks you have lost interest or moved on to another opportunity. Having spent several years as a recruiter, I believe two weeks is a good timeframe since the employer may have a better sense of their next steps after having time to screen applications or assess interview feedback.

2. Make your follow up email short and to the point. Here is a good example:

Dear (name of recruiter or hiring manager),

I recently submitted my application for XYZ position at your organization. I wanted to confirm my materials were received and reiterate my interest in the position. I believe I am a great fit for the position and your organization because (list here a key reason or two why you are a good fit based on what is in the job description). Please let me know if you need any additional information from me or if we might be able to schedule a time to meet to further discuss my qualifications and interest in the position. I look forward to hearing back.

3. Identify with whom to follow up

If you do not have contact information for a specific person with whom you should follow up, you should try to identify the name of someone who might be involved in the hiring process. This person might be either an HR recruiter or the hiring manager (the person who would be supervising the position for which you are applying). Here are places to find this information:

  • Use LinkedIn or the Our Northwestern alumni directory to connect with an alum to see if they can give you the name of the hiring manager and even possibly connect you.
  • Check the organization’s website to see if they have an employee directory which lists staff names, titles and contact information.
  • Look at the organization’s LinkedIn page to see if they list all their employees.
  • In some cases, a call to an organization’s general phone number to ask for the name and contact information of the recruiter for the position can yield the information.

Following up in a courteous, professional way can make you stand out by showing the employer just how interested you are in the position. Being the candidate who follows up can help your resume get a closer look and can very well make the difference in securing you the interview or the actual job or internship.

If you need further help with your follow-up strategy, your NCA career adviser is here to help. Schedule an appointment in Handshake.

#InternsofNU SIGP Spotlight: bioStrategies Group

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By Nancy Le

Nancy is a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, double majoring in Learning & Organizational Change and Economics.

Photo of blog author, NancyDescribe your summer internship.

As a consulting intern at bioStrategies Group (bSG), I was able to step foot in many different aspects of bio/pharma market research to help inform commercialization strategies. From conducting secondary research to listening in on primary market research interviews with health care providers and key subject experts, I learned all about how pharmaceuticals make their way from their initial development stages to the market. I worked on two different projects and was able read up extensively on diseases and synthesize literature to contribute slides to client deliverables.

Explain how you learned about the opportunity. What resources were especially helpful in your internship search?

Back in April, I participated in the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) and was matched with Elizabeth Hines at bioStrategies Group. After learning about the firm at the externship, I reached out later on to see if there were summer internship opportunities available.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

I enjoyed getting to meet some really kind and intellectual people. All of my coworkers were older than me by at least five years, but I found myself still able to call them friends. I was able to get some really good advice about my career and future from people with more experience. In addition, I felt like more than just an intern there and that my time and help was valued.

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

My biggest takeaway from this internship was that I am very capable of pursuing a career in consulting, or any other career that I set my mind to. With the support of my supervisor Liz and my coworkers, I gained confidence in my ability to perform on tasks, despite doubts of not being good enough to do well in a pressuring environment. One good piece of advice my friend and coworker Alice left me was that: “The most important thing is to just figure out what you want to do next. You don’t have to do that ‘next’ thing for very long… Something can serve you in the moment and not forever.”

What advice do you have for students pursuing internships that will help them be most successful?

Networking is an incredibly powerful tool that you now have as a Northwestern student, so take advantage of the opportunities that you can find by reaching out to people. Everything is in your reach if you are proactive about it. During your internship, think about the larger impact of what you’re doing, as well as why you’re doing it. Ask a lot of questions!

As a 2018 Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) recipient, how did SIGP impact your summer?

The SIGP grant allowed me to pay for rent, transportation, food, and other living expenses that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. Without the grant, I would have had to take on another job, on top of both the internship and a summer class.

4 Tips & Tricks for Getting Started on Handshake

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Photo of Laura Droste, NCA career adviser and author of this blog post.By Laura Droste, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

While spring quarter was wrapping up last year, NCA launched a new career platform, Handshake, which replaced CareerCat. If you haven’t had a chance to get started on Handshake, then this blog post is for you! If you’ve gotten a chance to dig into Handshake, this blog post is still for you to make sure you’ve taken all the steps to optimize your profile and set your career preferences. The great thing about Handshake is the more you update the platform with your skills, experiences and preferences, the more the platform will work for you by recommending opportunities (internships/jobs/events) on your homepage.

 Step 1: Log into Handshake

If you haven’t already, log into the platform at http://northwestern.joinhandshake.com using your NetID and password. Once you do, bookmark the URL to make it easier to return to it. Also, Handshake has a mobile app for iOS devices, with an Android version coming out soon, for access on the go! Note that the mobile app focuses primarily on functions for exploring and applying to internships and jobs. While you can access your profile on the app, you can only make updates to it through desktop for now.

Step 2: Indicate your career interests for tailored content and to opt-into NCA industry newsletters

When you first log into Handshake, you should be prompted to select your career interests. If you have already created an account and this is not your first time logging into the platform, then you can access your interest preferences by clicking on your name in the upper right-hand corner and selecting ‘Career Interests.’ This is a very important step because it not only helps Handshake to tailor the opportunities posted on your homepage, but it also tells NCA that you are interested in a specific industry so that we can send you targeted industry emails about events and opportunities. If your career interests evolve, make sure to update this section so that you do not miss out on relevant opportunities on Handshake and through NCA!

Step 3: Create a profile & make it visible to employers

There are different ways to make the process of creating a profile easy. You can access your profile by clicking your name in the upper right-hand corner and selecting ‘My Profile.’ The first way to easily make a profile is to upload your resume; Handshake should prompt you to do so when you first go onto your profile page. Another option for building your profile is to upload your resume by going to the ‘Document’ section on the right hand-side and selecting ‘Build Profile From Resume’ once the document has been uploaded. Then Handshake will update the sections in your profile with the relevant content. However, be sure to read it over and make sure that everything had translated correctly.

The final way to easily create your profile is to open up your LinkedIn profile in another tab on your web-browser and copy/paste the content from the LinkedIn section to the Handshake section. You’ll notice many similarities between the two profiles and the content can be the exact same (including the photo you use)! Make a mental note that any time you update your LinkedIn profile to update your Handshake profile and vice versa. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile yet, this could also be a good time to create one.

And another important hint, when you complete your profile, make sure to adjust the settings to make it visible to employers. You will notice a prompt at the right-hand side of your profile to make it public and can even test out the employer view.

Whether you need help with creating a resume, Handshake profile or LinkedIn profile, your career adviser is here to provide you with assistance and answer all your questions.

Step 4: Check it out!

Remember that the more you interact with the platform, the more Handshake will be able to recommend opportunities for you. This includes the jobs and organizations that you ‘Favorite’ and the events you RSVP to attend. The more you engage with the platform, the more it works for you! Handshake is also your hub for making appointments with your NCA career counselor and career adviser (select ‘Appointments’ under ‘Career Center’). Lastly, if you select ‘Resources’ under ‘Career Center,’ you’ll notice that we have posted access to resources such as CQ Interactive, Going Global, iNet, US News, and more!

#InternsofNU Spotlight: ProMazo

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Photo of Matthew Price, author of this blog, who interned this summer at ProMazo.By Matthew Price

Matthew is a sophomore in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences majoring in economics and psychology.

Describe your summer internship.

I helped redefine the world of work for college students and corporations alike. ProMazo connects students from top schools like MIT, Harvard, and Northwestern to work for Fortune 500s like Google, Charles Schwab, and NBC. I worked on the business development side, helping find, reach out, pitch, and close top executives to become new clients. Additionally, I optimized the outreach process through analytics and had the opportunity to work on content marketing by interviewing local legends in the Chicago area on the future of work.

Explain how you learned about the opportunity. What resources were especially helpful in your internship search?

I met one of the company’s co-founders at a personal branding workshop back in September 2017. He helped me out from a branding perspective, and we grew close over the coming months. I agreed to help start Northwestern’s student sales team in February, and the rest is history.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

The most enjoyable part of my experience was the exposure and opportunity to chat with thought leaders and industry all-stars. Very few jobs offer the opportunity to sit down with CEOs of Fortune 500s, interview local legends, and pitch high-level executives. It’s something I’ll forever cherish and an experience that has taught me so much about the world of business.

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

My biggest takeaway would be that success isn’t built overnight. It’s built from hard work, day in and day out. I got to witness firsthand fellow students and founders put in crazy amounts of great work, and I’ve gotten to see the rewards and opportunities that come as a result.

What advice do you have for students pursuing internships that will help them be most successful?

Have a candid conversation with yourself about what you’re looking for in an internship. Regardless of your experience level, a lot of companies are just as interested in learning more about you as you are in learning about them. Do your due diligence, and you’ll be rewarded.

#InternsofNU SIGP Spotlight: GirlForward

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Photo of Elizabeth Blair, author of this blog post.By Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth is a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy majoring in secondary teaching with a concentration in English.

Describe your summer internship.

I was a logistics intern with a nonprofit called GirlForward, whose goal is to uplift and empower refugee girls in Chicago. I helped run Camp GirlForward, a six-week summer program that teaches English skills through a social justice lens. Some of my duties included running literature circles, leading field trips, and helping with “explorer hour,” a daily program where girls learn about themselves and different cultures through dance, art, and sports.

Explain how you learned about the opportunity. What resources were especially helpful in your internship search?

I spent a lot of time online looking for internships with educational summer programs and nonprofits, and I found GF on internships.com. My advisor was also helpful in helping me decide what sort of internship I should seek out.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

I enjoyed meeting all of the girls and hearing their stories. GF works with refugees from a wide variety of places — I think we had about eleven different nationalities represented in our group — so it was extremely interesting to hear each girl’s personal experience. In addition, I enjoyed interacting with the girls in an academic space, and they constantly surprise me with their willingness to learn and grow.

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

The biggest takeaway for me was learning about the unique issues facing refugees across the globe, but specifically in the United States. Despite our large and diverse refugee population, the US has a track record of treating refugees poorly, and many have difficulty finding adequate employment, housing, health care, education, etc. I walked away from this internship with increased awareness of these issues and the desire to be an ally and advocate for refugee populations.

What advice do you have for students pursuing internships that will help them be most successful?

Pursue something that relates to your career goal, but also pursue something that you’re passionate in. In my case, I chose an internship that not only had to do with English education — my chosen career field — but also nonprofit and social justice work, which is a major interest of mine. This ensured that I gained relevant experience but also enjoyed myself while I was there.

As a 2018 Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) recipient, how did SIGP impact your summer?

Without SIGP, I would not have been able to afford living in Evanston/Chicago for the summer, and I would have had to return home. I come from a rural area with few opportunities around, so my only option would have been a part-time job. Because I received SIGP, however, I was able to have this internship at GirlForward and gain valuable experience in my career field.

Consulting internship recruitment while studying abroad

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JoseBy Jose Santos, Associate Director, Student Career Advising

If you have chosen to study abroad this fall and are interested in consulting internship recruitment, you’re on the path to developing skills that consulting firms value! Adaptability and global competency are key to being a successful consultant.

Consequently, going abroad should not prevent you from participating in consulting internship recruitment. Recruiters have shared that, like on-campus candidates, quality of application is the determining factor in whether or not a student gets an interview.

We would be misleading you if we said that consulting internship recruitment while abroad is easy. Being abroad will require additional preparation, but it is possible; students have successfully secured a consulting internship while abroad. We know you can do it, and NCA is here to support you throughout the entire process.

Employer Perspective
Consulting firms handle study abroad candidates in one of three ways:

  1. Most firms will have study abroad candidates apply through the normal fall recruitment process and will interview the candidate virtually for first-rounds.
  2. Some firms will have an accelerated process for study abroad candidates. For those studying abroad, a firm will have an earlier application deadline, will conduct in-person interviews in a regional office during the summer, and will extend an offer before a student goes abroad.
  3. Rarely, consulting firms will choose not to interview a study abroad candidate because they value an in-person experience.

Preparation
Since you will most likely be leaving for your study abroad program in August, it is imperative that you start preparing early! NCA has created a Consulting Internship Recruitment Preparation Timeline for Study Abroad Candidates (PDF) to help you maximize your summer. You do not need to inform consulting recruiters that you will be abroad since this will be on your resume. Remember, your career adviser is available to meet with you via phone, Skype, or in-person.

Interview Logistics
First-Rounds
NCA can technologically support first-round interviews and will work with you and the recruiter on logistics. If you are selected for a first round interview:

  1. Sign up for an interview slot in Handshake that works with the time zone in which you are living or will be travelling.
  2. Email the recruiter and Geni Harclerode to remind them that you are studying abroad; share your Skype account and international phone number in case there are issues with internet connections.
  3. Review NCA’s Best Practices for Consulting Virtual Interviewing (PDF).
  4. Log into Skype at least 5 minutes before your assigned interview time, and NCA will call you via video conference to start the interview.

Second-Rounds
For second-round interviews, companies typically do one of the following:

  1. Interview you virtually, much like the first round.
  2. Bring you to a nearby international office for an in-person interview.
  3. Fly you to a domestic office for an in-person interview.
  4. Wait until you are home in December to interview you in-person.
  5. Continue the interview process in-person during winter quarter.

Second round logistics are at each company’s discretion. NCA is always available to help you navigate this process.

Next Steps

  1. Make an appointment with your career adviser to discuss consulting internship recruitment while abroad.
  2. Review NCA’s Consulting Internship Recruitment Preparation Timeline for Study Abroad Candidates (PDF).
  3. Review NCA’s Best Practices for Consulting Virtual Interviewing (PDF).

Good luck!