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Consulting a Career: Stephen Mitchell ’17 Stephen Mitchell '17 credits students, alumni, and W&L academics for helping him to find the right career path.

“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.

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A little more about Stephen

Hometown:
Columbia, South Carolina

Majors:
Mathematics and Business Administration

Extracurricular involvement:
– University Singers (Tenor Section Leader)
– Southern Comfort (President)
– Williams Investment Society (Energy Group Head)

Why did you choose your major?
I would like to eventually hold a management position at a company in the food industry or start my own firm, and I thought that the business administration major would help me prepare for this career. I chose mathematics as a means to improve my problem-solving abilities, and I also enjoyed the abstract nature of the material (in contrast to the focus on real-world material and applications in the business administration major).

What professor has inspired you?
Professors Gregory Dresden and Wayne Dymacek.

What’s your favorite song right now?
“The General” by Dispatch or “Biking” by Frank Ocean.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
The Palms; always the Southwest Wrap.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
I wish I had known to take more classes that counted toward my majors or FDRs early on. That would have allowed me to avoid taking my hardest class schedules during my Fall and Winter terms of senior year.

Post-graduation plans:
In October, I will be starting work as an associate consultant with Bain & Co., in Atlanta. Before October, I will be traveling.

Favorite class:
Graph Theory or Business of Contemporary Art.

Favorite W&L event:
GAB May Day Concert at Lime Kiln.

Favorite campus landmark:
The view of Lee Chapel from the lone tree in front of Robinson Hall.

What’s your passion?
Food and beverages.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I’ve never seen “Titanic.”

Why did you choose W&L?
The school was generous, and I liked the small classroom setting and easy access to professors.