Pivoting from Philosophy to Consulting

IMG_6424Brian Rizzo (M.S. in Commerce 2017) earned a liberal arts degree from Vanderbilt in 2015 and recently started working at Bain & Company.

What did you study at Vanderbilt?

I studied philosophy and English, but my courses were interdisciplinary. I took classes across departments to study the history of political and literary thought in the United States.

Why did you choose the M.S. in Commerce program? 

The M.S. in Commerce program provides a remarkable platform upon which to pivot from liberal arts to business. It is perfect for students who are either looking to enhance their undergraduate degree with a business skill set, or simply change their minds at the last minute about what they want to do.

I graduated from Vanderbilt with the intent of starting a Ph.D. program in political theory at Cambridge. A few weeks before leaving for England, after a summer of serious thought about my future, I knew I wanted something else. I loved academic thought and knew I could be a great professor one day. But I wanted to pivot toward solving real problems in the world.

What have you gotten out of the program so far?

The people. My biggest takeaway from UVA is the opportunity to build a network of peers who will remain friends and become professional colleagues and resources in the future. The recruitment and interview process also provided key skill sets that enabled me to succeed in case interviews and land a job in consulting.

What was the most influential class?

Management Consulting with Professor Brendan Boler was key to my success. Professor Boler went out of his way to help students succeed. He gave real-world advice on interviewing and networking, as well as tools and insights we can use in our professional life.

How was the transition from liberal arts to business?

Business is about understanding the diverse, nuanced needs of people, finding productive solutions to their problems, and communicating in clear and concise ways how these solutions will positively impact their lives. I was able to leverage my liberal arts thinking with practical, technical skills, giving me a high return on investment.

What advice do you have for someone interested in getting a job in consulting?

Talk to as many people who work in consulting as possible. You will learn about the culture of their firms as well as their own work within the company. This will provide insight on how to succeed during the interview process. Practice case interviews. I spent every night leading up to interviews going over practice cases with a study partner. Finally, be confident and be yourself.

– Brian Rizzo, M.S. in Commerce 2017

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