5 Ways to Manage Stress During Your Job or Internship Search


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matt-formicaBy Matt Formica, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in Medill and Weinberg

Finding a job or internship is hard work and can cause a significant amount of stress in a student’s life. The job or internship search is a process that can be marked by uncertainty and frustration, but it also represents a great opportunity to translate your academics and extracurriculars into a meaningful professional experience. While finding a job or internship invariably has its ups and downs, here are five strategies to help you manage stress and maintain your wellbeing throughout this process.

1. Focus on what you can control

There are many factors that fall outside of your control as you search for a job or internship, such as specific application deadlines and GPA cutoffs or the strength of the job market. What you can control are factors like your knowledge of a company or industry, strength of your application materials, level of preparation for an interview, and overall attitude about your search. Be proactive about your career development and take advantage of opportunities to learn more about career fields you’re interested in. Stay positive and view this process as a learning opportunity that will make you a more resourceful and resilient person for the long term.

2. Use your resources

As a Northwestern student, you have access to a variety of campus resources that can support you and help you manage stress. For example, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers one-on-one appointments as well as group workshops on topics like stress management, relaxation, and mindfulness. Similarly, the Stress Management Clinic offers workshops as well as relaxation videos and techniques. Of course, NCA is always here to support your job or internship search.

3. Keep things in perspective

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average worker holds approximately 12 jobs by the time he or she is 50. Consequently, your first job or internship is not the end all be all. Chances are you’ll get an opportunity to contribute to several organizations throughout your career, so don’t worry if you start somewhere other than your “dream company.” Consider factors such as training, growth opportunities, and company values more than prestige. Gain experience, develop skills, build your network, and pursue your interests as you launch your career.

4. Find an outlet

Everyone has a different way of relieving stress. What works for you? Exercising, reading, talking with a friend, or listening to music are all good options. Everybody encounters stress at some point; the important thing is that you find a healthy outlet for it.

5. Plan ahead

Dedicating a little time every day to work on something career-related is a more effective strategy than cramming. Don’t try to write your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile the same day. Similarly, take the time to develop a strategic job or internship plan with the help of your career adviser, rather than mass applying.

Regardless of whether you have no idea what you want to do after Northwestern or you have a very specific career objective, NCA can help you with all aspects of your job or internship search. You can schedule an appointment through CareerCat. And please remember to take care of yourselves!


SIGP Views from the Cube: Colombian e-learning company Koideas


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Becca (front, center) and her Koideas colleagues.

I spent my past summer down in South America, interning for a Colombian company, Koideas, that specializes in knowledge management through the creation of virtual content. As the Community Manager, I managed our digital presence, focusing mainly on the social media channels. I had previously studied in Peru, which sparked my interest in gaining professional experience abroad. I did in-depth research on various international internship programs before deciding on my program, The Intern Group. I went through several interviews before I was accepted into the program and then placed with Koideas.

I began my internship with thorough research about our own social media channels, the norms within the industry, and the digital presence of other e-learning companies. Then, I created a detailed plan of content and strategy for our social media channels. During the last part of my internship, I executed that plan, creating and scheduling posts, while also running analytics on our progress. Moreover, I attended various international conferences regarding e-learning and entrepreneurship.

The independence that my supervisors provided along with the high expectations that they held for me allowed for an environment full of opportunities. I learned something new every day, whether it was new Spanish vocabulary, how to design an e-learning course, or discovering advanced features of social media platforms. One of the most important takeaways from my internship was my own growth and self-discovery. During my two months, I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone to meet new people, improve my language skills, and explore an unfamiliar country. However, this initial discomfort eventually allowed me to discover a very clear path, both personally and for my career. I confirmed my passion to work in South America and also in a career that not only matches my skill set, but pushes me to grow and learn everyday. However, perhaps the most important aspect of my internship was the different relationships that I formed. The people that I was so nervous to meet on the first day became some of my best friends. More than just networking and professional connections, I know that I can always rely on the passionate, hard-working, and welcoming people from the company that I am blessed to call my second home, Koideas.

Becca Smith is a rising senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Spanish within the School of Communication. She will graduate in 2017 and will pursue a career in international public relations. As a 2016 SIGP grant recipient, this past summer she interned with Koideas, an e-learning company in Medellín, Colombia.

International master’s student blog series: Visa processes


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By Debbie Kaltman, Coordinator of International Student Experience at The International Office

Welcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series.  This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies.  Find our previous posts here. We will add more posts during Fall Quarter 2016. This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.

As an international master’s student, it is important to consider the visa processes as you conduct your job search.  It’s an extra “layer” you will need to consider.

Here are some important visa processes and types:

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is work authorization for any job (or internship, practicum, co-op, etc) that is off-campus and during your academic program.  CPT is required for any off-campus work.  You are not eligible for CPT until you have been at Northwestern for three consecutive quarters.  If you are a new student in Fall 2016, this means you are not eligible until Summer 2017. To apply for CPT, you must have a job offer.

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is work authorization for any job after your academic program (on-campus or off-campus).  OPT is required for any work in the US after graduation.  You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.  OPT takes 2-3 months to be approved, so we recommend you apply at the beginning of your final quarter.  To help you apply for OPT, the IO holds OPT workshops, and the next one will be October 17.  Please see our events calendar for future dates.  We will also hold special OPT workshops for McCormick MS students during Winter Quarter.

Everyone is eligible for 12 months of Post-Completion OPT.  If your degree is in a STEM field, you may also be eligible for the OPT STEM extension.  The OPT STEM extension is now 24 months.  Including Post-Completion OPT, this means you may be eligible for up to 3 years of work authorization in the US without an H-1B or other visa!  We highly recommend you use your STEM extension, as it will allow you maximize your work authorization time in the US.

If you are a J-1 student, you are eligible for Academic Training during and/or after your academic program.  Please contact your IO advisor to apply for Academic Training.

Another visa type you may hear about is the H-1B.  This is an employment visa and must be sponsored by a specific employer.  The process is different for every company.  You can search for previous H-1B sponsoring employers in the Going Global database (accessible through NCA’s CareerCat system).  There are two types of H-1B visas: cap-subject and cap-exempt.  Cap-subject employers can only apply for a limited number of H-1B visas in April of each year, and these visas can only begin on October 1.  Cap-exempt employers may apply at any time.

Many U.S. employers (big and small) are unfamiliar with OPT/STEM OPT.  They may not want to hire an international student because they fear they are employing someone illegally.  You may need to educate an employer about the OPT rules.  This means it is very important that you first educate yourself!  Review the information online, come to an OPT workshop, and ask questions!

Remember: IO is the best place to go for information about visas and your F-1/J-1 status.  There is a LOT of bad information on the internet, so please don’t Google your situation (or use Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, or any other search engine…) If you have questions, please contact your IO advisor or come to the IO during walk-in hours.  The IO and NCA are here to help you during your job search process!

International master’s student blog series: NCA services & resources


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BrettBy Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

Welcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series.  This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies.  Find our previous post here. We will add more posts during Fall Quarter 2016.  This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.

Today’s blog will orient and, in some cases, introduce international master’s students to NCA and its services and resources. We hope through this orientation that you will be informed on what is available to you and will be motivated to start or continue planning for your future beyond Northwestern. You will be introduced to NCA’s advising and counseling services, CareerCat, opportunities to engage employers, and career resources.

Career Advising
NCA provides comprehensive career services to graduate students including career support and coaching appointments customized to the needs of each student. International master’s students can schedule a one-on-one appointment with an NCA Career Adviser for assistance with:

  1. Job or Internship strategy and planning
  2. Resume and cover letter reviews
  3. Interviewing practice and strategy
  4. Networking support
  5. Advice on negotiating

Career Counseling
In addition to the services provided by NCA’s career advisers, career counseling is also offered to support master’s students. Career Counselors assist students to:

  • Explore options
  • Make successful career decisions that fit your unique personality and professional goals
  • Examine graduate (PhD) or professional (JD) school options

How to Schedule an Appointment with an NCA Adviser or Counselor

  • All adviser/counselor appointments are scheduled in CareerCat; look for the “Schedule an Appointment” shortcut box on the right-hand side
  • CareerCat will automatically select your Career Adviser/Counselor, but here is the NCA staff list

Employer Engagement
NCA also provides opportunities to engage employers, including:

  • CareerCat, which is a database with jobs and internships exclusive to all levels of Northwestern students. This resource provides opportunities in a range of industries and experience levels.
  • Career-themed programs and events, including our Career Fairs
  • Information and networking sessions with employers
  • On-campus interviewing opportunities

Career Resources
International Master’s students should also leverage career resources offered by NCA. Visit with an NCA Career Adviser or Counselor to discuss each resource’s value to your search. These resources include:

  • GoinGlobal (H1B employer list)
  • The Vault & Wetfeet (information on industries & employers)
  • CQ Interactive (consulting case interview preparation)

NCA partners with other career services offices at Northwestern to provide comprehensive support to international master’s students. Be sure to visit careers services offices that align with your school or program, including McCormick’s Engineering Career Development office, Medill Career Services, and School of Communication’s EPICS.

How to research LGBTQIA friendly employers


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Christina serves students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School

By Christina Siders, NCA senior assistant director, serving students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School.

Even though many employers promote diverse recruiting strategies and LGBTQIA friendly hiring policies, it’s important to do your due diligence when assessing what company is the best fit for you. There are several considerations to make if you’re seeking a particular work environment, and researching the organization and its policies is essential.  When researching, look for the following:

  • Is there a written non-discrimination policy? And if so, does it specifically cover sexual orientation and gender expression?
  • Do they offer domestic partner benefits?
  • Is there an LGBTQIA resource group within the organization, and is it active?
  • Is the company ranked on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index?
  • Does the organization sponsor diversity trainings that include gender expression and sexual orientation?

If you’re looking in an unfamiliar geographical area, find out if the organization is located in a city or county that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Network with groups in the area to gain better awareness of both opportunities and of the resources available.

While the answers to these questions will help you better assess the work culture at each organization, it’s important to remember that attitudes can vary greatly from policy. Try to have as many candid conversations as possible when determining cultural fit.  For example, if the company has an LGBTQIA employee group, contact them and talk to current staff about the organizational climate.  What is it really like to work there?

NU alumni can also be a wonderful resource.  Contact the Northwestern University Gay and Lesbian Alumni (NUGALA) Association to connect with LGBTQIA professionals in every industry.  Our Northwestern and LinkedIn can be invaluable when setting up networking meetings.  Look for individuals at companies of interest who are involved in relevant groups in their area or company.  Finally, don’t miss out on upcoming programming:

  • Know Your Rights: Thursday, October 6, 6-8 p.m., Multicultural Center (1936 Sheridan Road). Lambda Legal, a nonprofit devoted to the rights of LGBTQIA individuals, will facilitate a presentation regarding your rights and dialogue about the job application and hiring process. This will be an informal event and dinner will be served.
  • Alumni Employer-in-Residence: Friday, October 7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Gender and Sexuality Resource Center – Norris, 3rd Floor.  Meet with ’09 alumnus and NUGALA President Marc Staros and his colleague at Slalom Consulting who can answer your questions regarding LGBTQIA  interviewing, hiring, or anything else that is on your  mind!

Views from the Cube: West Monroe Partners


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Kammer is a member of the WCAS Class of 2017, majoring in History with a minor in the Kapnick Business Institutions Program and a certificate in the Undergraduate Leadership Program. This summer, he interned with the Campus Recruiting team at West Monroe Partners, a Chicago-based consulting company, while enrolled in Chicago Field Studies.

Where did you intern this summer? Describe your internship role.

This summer, I interned with the Campus Recruiting team at the Chicago-based firm West Monroe Partners. This division of Talent Acquisition focuses on filling West Monroe’s entry-level positions, which students would recognize as the team that hosts information sessions, first round interviews, and social events designed to introduce students to a given firm. My primary role is to assist with the planning and execution of events on campus during the recruiting season, as well as with some additional tasks over the summer. I started with WMP in January, working part time in both winter and spring quarters, before going full time in June.

How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?

I originally found the internship through a posting on CareerCat, and after submitting an application on-line, went through a phone screen with the department manager before going into the office for a series of interviews.

What were your main internship responsibilities – from daily tasks to bigger projects?

Aside from assisting with events, my daily responsibilities were quite varied. They ranged from posting jobs for undergraduate and MBA students at universities across the country, to ensuring background checks for new hires were completed on time. Two of my bigger projects for the summer were writing the annual report for our division, which will be used internally to highlight the work the Campus Recruiting team does, as well as developing a method to streamline the division’s monthly budget and hiring status reporting to the director of Talent Acquisition and to firm leadership.

 What did you enjoy most about your internship?

I most enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere West Monroe presents to all who join it. Regardless of your position, background, or age, the entire office goes out of their way to make everyone feel welcome; a clear reflection of their people-first mentality. The best recommendation I could give for making the most out of an internship is to take advantage of the opportunities and potential connections that become available. I truly enjoyed being able to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds who have a tremendous range of interests and skill sets at West Monroe. Every intern should go above and beyond to meet and work with as many people as possible while they have that chance. It doesn’t take much to reach out and start a conversation, and you never know what could result from it!

Employer Spotlight: Q&A w/Kevin Barry (WCAS ’00, Kellogg ’06), Director of Financial Operations – Annie’s / General Mills


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**General Mills will be on campus next week to discuss opportunities with their Finance Leadership Development program for internships! Meet the team at the Fall Internship & Job Fair or at an information session on September 27th. Find event details + submit your application in CareerCat!**

Tell us about your role at General Mills and what drew you to the company.

I’m the Finance Director on Annie’s at General Mills. I lead our finance team that works with our marketing, sales, and supply chain teams to grow our business and bring fantastic Annie’s products to more people.

I joined General Mills when I was in business school at Kellogg. What drew me to the company initially were great people I met through the interview process, and then a fantastic summer internship experience convinced me this was where I wanted to continue my career.

What is your work and education background?

I graduated from NU with a BA in Economics. My first job was with Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, where I worked on real estate development projects. After JLL, I came back to Evanston to get my MBA at Kellogg. In business school I did a summer internship at General Mills, and joined full time in 2006. I’ve had finance roles working in operations, marketing, and sales in Minneapolis, and also spent 3 years in Miami working in our Latin American business. After that I worked on our Annie’s acquisition, and I have since worked on the business integration, and for the past year as the Finance Director.

What makes a candidate stand out to General Mills and what is the recruiting process like?

We are looking for leaders who can drive results and make an impact. Candidates should have strong analytical skills, work well as part of a team, communicate effectively, demonstrate curiosity and a passion for learning, and be able to influence others. You’ll also need a passion for corporate finance, CPG, and food!

Our recruiting process starts on campus. You can connect with our team at campus events and the career fair. Then you’ll apply on campus website, and we will have on-campus interviews this fall.

What does an entry level role or internship look like?

The General Mills Finance Leadership Development Program (FLDP) is a great way to start your career. As part of the FLDP, you will have 3 roles in your first 3 years at General Mills, building broad experience in technical foundations, functional depth, and business basics. FLDP analysts receive training to help you get off to a fast start and quickly make an impact.

The FLDP allows candidates to demonstrate leadership, hone critical thinking skills, develop business context, and learn the General Mills and Finance culture.

Describe a typical workday.

Depending on your role, you could be working with a marketing team to decide how to launch a new product, or with a sales team on how to enter into a negotiation with a customer, or working on how to get our plants to run more efficiently. In any role, your day will entail working collaboratively with other members of General Mills to improve our business and achieve outstanding results. Core to the role is the ability to make sense of data and tell a story with stakeholders that helps influence effective business decisions

What do you enjoy most about working with General Mills?

Undoubtedly it is the people. I have had fantastic mentors, leaders, and friends at General Mills who have invested in my development by teaching and challenging me throughout. I learn from the people around me every day.

What professional advice do you have for students interested in this industry?

Love the products, and you’ll love your work. One of the best things about my job is telling people I work on Annie’s and to hear them rave about our Mac and Cheese!

What does your work space look like? 


What’s the best career or life advice you’ve received?

If you’re not uncomfortable you’re probably not learning. I’ve always gained the most working for and with people who challenged me. They made me better, and made the work more interesting.

Are there any current opportunities at General Mills for students or graduating seniors? 

Yes! General Mills is looking for awesome people to join our Finance Leadership Development program for internships next summer. We’ll be on-campus for the Internship & Job Fair Tuesday, September 27th from 12:00pm – 4:00pm in Norris. We’ll also be hosting a info session that same day from 5:00pm – 6:00pm in Norris, Wildcat Room B. Make sure to come by to talk to us in person, and check out our career listing at in CareerCat!

On-Campus Recruiting FAQS


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Geni leads employer development strategy and oversees the Employer and Strategic Outreach Team

By Geni Harclerode, Director of Employer Recruitment and Engagement

Late September marks the beginning of classes—and fall recruiting season. For those of you actively in the internship or job search, it’s likely you’ll be networking with employers, attending information sessions, and applying for positions in CareerCat over the next couple of months.

If you’re new to on-campus recruiting (also known as OCR), or need a refresher from years’ past, below are four of the most common questions we receive from students during this time. It is our hope that this information will help you better navigate the recruiting process, and we encourage you to reach out to a member of our team with any questions you may have along the way. And if you don’t find your dream employer or position this quarter, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with employers throughout the year. Remember, different industries have different hiring cycles, and employers in a variety of industries post opportunities to CareerCat year-round.

  1. What if my GPA doesn’t meet the requirements?

Like many aspects of a candidate screening process, GPA is used differently by different employers, and for different purposes. Some key reasons for a GPA cut-off include:

-Standardizing their system. Employers are reviewing applicants across many academic profiles and, quite often, across institutions nationwide. This creates an easy comparison point among varied applicants.

-Narrowing the pool. In cases where employers are shifting through large volumes of resumes, a GPA cut-off creates a mechanism to manage that initial volume.

-Evaluating skills. Employers may believe GPA is a good marker for measuring desirable skills like project completion, goal setting, intellectual curiosity, and time management. They want to see you maintain a rigorous courseload successfully while also engaging in outside the classroom activities.

So what happens if you don’t meet that metric?

Clarify if this point is flexible: Understand that because employers use this measurement in different ways, some are more open to making exceptions than others.

Face time is key: Whenever possible, it is great if you can find an opportunity to speak to an employer directly, giving you the chance to also articulate your interest in the role, and some of your key selling points as a candidate.

Be specific and knowledgeable about your interest. Match the organization’s stated needs for the role with your background and skills. Can you articulate why and how this role is a compelling fit?

Address, respond, move-on: Employers appreciate an ability to grow from past mistakes. Perhaps your lower GPA comes from a difficult first year transition, a rocky personal period, or a change in academic path. You can address these points directly, without superfluous personal details, and confidently owning your professional story. Show that this has contributed to your personal growth without dwelling too long on it.

Bottom line: Reach out to the employer directly (in person is ideal), ask about whether they are open to considering candidates outside of the GPA range. Address the issue head on while also noting your specific interest in the role, your strengths, and your appreciation of their consideration.

If the employer has communicated they would like you to be added to their candidate pool, please share that with the NCA Employer Relations team and we will be glad to honor that accommodation.

  1. What if I have to arrive late to an information session, or can’t come at all? Can I have the recruiter’s contact information?

“Recruiting season”, or the period that runs from the end of September through Thanksgiving, can be a hectic time for students and a condensed period of heightened employer activity on campus. It is very likely that firms vying for the same students will also have recruiting activities that overlap. In this busy time, it can be difficult to manage competing events.

Attending information sessions allows you to: learn more about a company, network with contacts and alums, and get an understanding of their hiring profile. Even if you cannot attend the duration of the session, being there for a portion of time has value. If possible, address your late arrival or early departure with a recruiter prior to the start of the event, or immediately after. A brief apology that also reiterates interest in the company is ideal. Employers are keenly aware that students have a full plate this time of year.

Employers set their own preferred communication channels within CareerCat. They may range from internal career websites, to shared university recruiting contacts, to personal email addresses. Because of this variance, and the volume of employers we serve, we defer to employer preference and do not release additional employer contacts outside of what is posted in CareerCat. While engaging with an employer at an info session or career fair, students should be proactive in requesting preferred contact information for follow up. LinkedIn and OurNorthwestern are also great tools for connecting with alums at companies of interest.

If you need to miss an event in observance of a religious holiday, please notify the NCA Employer Relations team and every effort will be made to communicate that to the host employer and make appropriate accommodations.

If you are studying abroad and still interested in companies coming to campus, be sure your application materials clearly state you are not currently on campus. Many employers are able to accommodate virtual interviews as an alternative. In these cases, NCA staff can work directly with you and the employer to assist with the set up.

  1. How do I sign up for an interview? What does it mean if my status is “pending”?

If you have been invited to an interview, your application status will change from “requested” to “invited”. In the “Interviews” tab of CareerCat, this position will appear in the “Requested Interviews” section. Once you schedule the interview, the position will appear in the “Scheduled Interviews” section.

CareerCat will never show a “Not Invited” application status, so if the alternate deadline has passed and your status did not change, then you were not invited. It is in a student’s best interest to make check-ins with CareerCat a regular and habitual part of your week during recruiting season when positions are changing and updating daily. Remember, sign-ups for interviews are on a first come, first serve basis for invited students. The system allows students to access interviews for invited students beginning at 12:01am on the day interview sign-ups start.

  1. I got a second round interview (yay!) but it overlaps with another interview I have scheduled at NCA (oh no!). Help!

First, congrats on the interview. If you have to miss a first round interview at NCA:

  1. Remove yourself from the schedule whenever possible and as soon as possible. Most schedules within CareerCat remain accessible to edits directly from students until two business days before the interview. If you can still modify the schedule yourself, please do so as soon as you know you will not be able to attend the interview.
  2. If you cannot access the schedule on your own, notify NCA immediately. Per our recruiting policies you will need to write a note to the employer apologizing for the missed interview if you are canceling within 2 business days.
  3. If you are still interested in the position, reach out directly to the employer. NCA staff can help you draft an appropriate email. You will want to let the employer know why you have to miss the interview, reiterate your strong interest in the position, and inquire whether alternate accommodations can be made.

If you have additional questions, or would like guidance as you prepare for on-campus recruiting, I encourage you to make an appointment with your career adviser. We wish you the very best in your career pursuits, and we look forward to seeing you this year!


Career Advising Series: A guide to finance & consulting internship recruitment


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067.jpgBy members of the NCA finance & consulting industry team, including: Career advisers Maggie Smith and Jose Santos (serving students in WCAS),  Rachel Garson Taylor (serving Kellogg CPU students), and employer recruiting strategists Liz Abello and Tory Key

As we approach fall quarter, you might be preparing for internship recruitment in
consulting and finance. Both industries have accelerated their recruiting timelines and will do most of their internship recruitment this fall. If you are not interested in either industry, you will have an opportunity for your own internship search later on in the year.

If you are interested in both finance and consulting, you might be wondering:

Can I go through recruitment for both Finance and Consulting internships, simultaneously?

The short answer: Yes. You can apply for internships of interest in both industries.

A better question might be: Should I go through recruitment for both Finance and Consulting internships, simultaneously?

In choosing to go through recruitment for both finance and consulting, you may want to consider the following:

  • Both industries are competitive; employers are seeking candidates who are fully committed to the industry.
  • You will need to be able to clearly articulate “why finance” or “why consulting” to an employer, a networking contact, or an interviewer. Your personal narrative will need to reflect confidence, preparation, relevant experience, and fit for each industry.
  • The recruiting processes for each industry require significant time and effort. Consider the following elements:
    • Tailored resumes
    • A professional introduction specific to each industry
    • Industry research
    • Attendance at different information sessions and employer events
    • Specific networking contacts based on the industry
    • Industry- specific interview preparation

Success in either industry will require a tailored strategy. Think about your fall quarter and whether you have the capacity to develop and execute two, unique recruiting strategies.

Then, ask yourself:

Am I really interested in both industries?

You might hear a lot of students discuss the finance and consulting industries together, but in reality, the day to day work and overall objectives of each industry differ quite a bit.

If you haven’t already done so, you should research each industry and begin to do informational interviews to learn which industry might be a better fit for your individual interests, values, skills, and career objectives.

You can begin your research on NCA’s website:

What are the similarities and differences between the two recruiting processes?


  • Commitment: Both are seeking highly qualified, experienced candidates who are committed to the industry and have demonstrated their interest over time.
  • Skills: Both require quantitative and analytic skills.
  • GPA: Both have a minimum GPA requirement and are looking for candidates with an excellent academic record.
  • Resume: Both require a tailored resume that focuses on quantifiable details and outcomes/results.
  • Timeline: Both recruit at the same time; deadlines and interviews will overlap.
  • Employer Events: Candidates are expected to connect with employers through information sessions, career fairs, coffee chats, and networking events to demonstrate their interest in the industry and in a specific employer.
  • Information Sessions: Both host information sessions on campus during fall quarter to connect with interested students. Many of these events will overlap between the two industries (i.e. a consulting firm and investment bank will have an information session scheduled at the same time), so you would have to choose which sessions to attend.
  • Networking: Employers are seeking candidates who have developed relationships with recruiters, alumni, and other professionals as they prepare for recruitment. Networking helps you stand out and is crucial to a successful recruitment process. You should be developing contacts and networking within each industry, if you intend to apply for both.
  • Behavioral Interviews: The interview processes each include a behavioral interview component; employers want to get a sense of your previous experience and fit within the industry.  Like information sessions, first round interviews might overlap between the two industries.


  • The Case Interview: Unique to consulting, the case interview is a substantial portion of a consulting interview and requires significant preparation and practice. If you intend to go through recruitment for consulting, you should be studying mental math, reviewing frameworks, completing practice cases, and working with peers and/or alumni mentors to practice case interviewing.
  • The Technical Interview: Employers within finance will incorporate technical questions into the interview process to assess your industry knowledge and ability to perform the basic functions of a summer analyst. Technical interview questions might include valuation, DCF, and basic accounting.
  • Focus on the Internship: Finance tends to focus recruiting efforts on summer analyst positions and do very little recruiting for full-time positions. If you are interested in working in finance after graduation, an internship is critical to securing a full-time role. Consulting firms hire for both internships and full-time roles on campus.
  • GPA & Academic Experience: Employers in finance tend to require a higher GPA than employers in consulting. Further, consulting employers might be more open to students from all majors, while employers in finance are looking for students with a highly quantitative and specific technical background.


Ultimately, the decision to go through recruitment for one or both industries is up to you.

You should first consider whether you’re equally interested in both finance and consulting. Then consider the amount of time you’re looking to spend on recruiting, and if you have the capacity to really dedicate the amount of time required for each industry.

NCA is here to help with your process. For help deciding which industry might be the best fit for you, schedule an appointment with your career counselor. For assistance developing and executing your strategy and navigating the recruitment process, schedule an appointment with your career adviser.

Starting a Master’s Program and Job Searching for International Students


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By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) would like to welcome you to the first of five international master’s student blogs that will share tips and strategies to manage job searching in the U.S. Our hope is that tBretthese blogs will inspire thoughtful reflection on your job options and search. Each blog will be posted at key points during Fall Quarter featuring significant milestones for your search.  

For many of you, your new Master’s program will represent a new direction in your career path and will mean that you will be seeking a new job at its completion. Today’s blog will identify key strategies and information to assist you in starting your program and beginning your job search in an effective way.

Your best strategy for starting your program and your job search is to clearly understand your options and to develop an industry-specific plan and timeline. By doing so, you will find more job search success than without. A great place to start examining your options and setting your job search plan is the career services office that aligns with your programs, including McCormick’s Office of Career Development, Medill Career Services, School of Communication’s EPICS, or Northwestern Career Advancement. Visit each office’s website to determine services for your program.

By scheduling an appointment with the appropriate career services adviser/coach, you will better understand recruiting for international students and make the most of the job search in your industry of choice. In your meetings, you will learn:

  • Important facts about recruiting for the industry you are planning to pursue and when it makes sense to start the job search.
  • Should you exercise your CPT option and pursue an internship? Internships are great experience and skill-builders, but may not work for everyone.

Your career services office can assist you to avoid common master’s student pitfalls. Far too often new master’s students start their job search in a non-organized manner. Some start prematurely and others delay the start of their job search due to lack of career direction or a desire to focus only on classes. Either strategy can bring negative results including poor impressions on employers or missed opportunities.

Finally, it is important to fully understand student visas and how they impact the internship and job search. Northwestern’s International Office is a critical partner in understanding U.S. visas and your options as well as assisting with visa processing for CPT and OPT. NCA encourages students to reach out and establish a relationship with an adviser at the International Office.