During the fall of my senior year, I had a major decision to make. I had been accepted to several different graduate programs, ranging from economics, to math, to other master’s in management programs. I even considered staying at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, and getting a second undergraduate degree in engineering. While I knew that I wanted a more focused degree beyond my B.S. in Economics, I was not quite sure where I wanted to begin my career. During undergrad, I had played with the idea of getting a PhD, but after speaking with professors and doing several semesters of serious research, I decided I wanted to go into industry first before committing to a life of academia.
As I thought more about my decision, I realized my first priority was getting a job. My second priority was choosing a program that was academically challenging and would have real “weight” behind it. Overall, I wanted a program that would set me up well for the future, no matter which industry I decided to enter.
The M.S. Commerce was the perfect solution. Not only does the M.S. Commerce program come with an exceptional career center and access to the hundreds of prestigious companies which recruit on Grounds, but it has also been intellectually worthwhile. It has enabled me to pivot from research to industry, through studying both broad management classes and more focused Finance classes.
Without the M.S. Commerce program, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get a job offer at McKinsey, where I will begin working this fall as a Business Analyst in their Atlanta office. I cannot say enough how helpful the M.S. in Commerce professors and Commerce Career Services were during this process. For instance, Professor Boler’s class in the fall taught us everything from how to write a non-cookie cutter cover letter, how to not awkwardly ask someone for an informational interview, and even how to make conversation with employers during information sessions. Plus, Commerce Career Services let us know of every info session, coffee chat, and other opportunity to meet with employers.
Because I was recruiting for consulting, I think one of the most important assets I had was all of the other M.S. Commerce students going through the exact same process. Having other people to practice case studies with, go to info sessions with, and overall just talk about anxieties with was such an improvement over my experience recruiting in undergrad. With all of the support at McIntire, finding a job was much less stressful than I expected.
But, I think the value of the M.S. Commerce program extends beyond just getting a job. Because of the range of classes we have taken and topics we have studied, from cases in Strategy and Systems in the fall to actually valuing private equity deals in the spring, I feel very prepared to begin my career.
Classes in the M.S. Commerce program are very different from ones I had experienced in undergrad. First of all, the are more hands-on and industry-focused. We learn much more about the practical applications of topics, rather than just the theory, like in my undergraduate courses. The second difference was how much group work is involved. Honestly, one of the major unexpected benefits of this program is learning how to be productive and efficient in a team setting. I know that statement sounds horribly uncool, but it’s also absolutely true. But, what I love most about the M.S. Commerce classes is how they are all directly related to something I might actually do in my career. No days have been wasted with busy work or irrelevant projects – everyday has seemed worthwhile.
If I had to do it all over again, I would still absolutely, without a doubt choose the M.S. Commerce program. In the short term, it has given me a great job offer, business acumen, and equally importantly, an incredible network of friends. But, I am also excited for the opportunities in the future I will get because of the M.S. Commerce program. I don’t know yet whether I will stay a consultant forever, but I am excited that the M.S. Commerce program has given me the ability to broaden my options going into the future.
-Written by Lindsay Purcell, M.S. in Commerce 2017