The Columns

Consulting a Career: Stephen Mitchell ‘17

— by on May 23rd, 2017

“I would say that W&L’s alumni network, the willingness of other students interested in consulting to collaborate, and my Mathematics major were the three things I gained from my time at W&L that helped me the most during the recruitment process.”

Stephen Mitchell ‘17 credits students, alumni and W&L academics for his success in career change.



I spent the summer after my junior year as an intern at an investment bank in San Francisco. While this was a fantastic opportunity that provided me with great experience and exposure to interesting firms, I decided late in the summer that I wanted to explore different career options.  

I ended up in the Career Development Office and surveyed the landscape of entry-level jobs for undergraduates. Based on my long-term career interests and my background, I determined that management consulting would be a great place for me to start. I made a spreadsheet with the contact information of W&L alumni at firms in the industry, and I started to try and figure out if I had a shot at breaking into management consulting.

Very quickly, a group of alumni emerged who were especially responsive and supportive of my efforts. I was surprised at their willingness to help, and their advice ultimately convinced me that I had a chance at finding a job in management consulting if I worked diligently to prepare for interviews. After weighing the pros and cons of my various options with the help of Dean John Jensen, I made the difficult decision to not return to San Francisco after graduating, and I set my sights on the management-consulting recruiting process.

I spent months preparing for case interviews using a number of books and online resources. Thankfully, many of the alumni whom I had contacted during the summer were willing to take the time to conduct mock interviews with me, which gave me much-needed live practice. I was also able to practice live interviews with Dean Jensen and Dean Rob Straughan. I found further opportunities for practice with a group of hopeful consultants at W&L, and we all made sure everyone was aware of deadlines and requirements for applications (which was a pleasant surprise, since we were all technically competing).

I found a company named Bain and started the recruitment process with them. I interviewed twice with the firm – once over the phone and once in person. I felt well prepared for these interviews, given the practice mentioned above and the fact that W&L alumni at Bain had been particularly responsive and willing to help me prepare specifically for their interview process. While it was challenging, alumni at the firm helped me overcome this obstacle.

Looking back on the process, I would say that W&L’s alumni network, the willingness of other students interested in consulting to collaborate, and the problem-solving processes I learned through my mathematics major were the three things I gained from my time at W&L that helped me the most during the recruitment process. My previous internships at a family office in Austin, Texas, and my investment banking internship in San Francisco were also valuable in that they helped clarify my career interests and thereby allowed me to better articulate why I wanted to be a consultant to interviewers.