1) Can you tell us about your current position?

I currently work as an Analyst at the Illuminate Consulting Group (ICG) – an international research and academic strategy consulting firm based out of San Francisco, California. ICG has worked for over 20 of the top 100 universities in the world, a dozen governments, and has published more than 30 major policy reports over the past decade.

As an Analyst, the projects I work on vary significantly in subject matter and deliverables which has allowed me to acquire a diverse set of skills that are highly applicable to my education and professional goals. During my eight-month internship I have already worked on over a dozen client projects collecting data, running quantitative analyses, and drafting reports. In addition, I was able to join the ICG team on several business trips where I met with clients, presented at international conferences, and developed industry relationships.

2) What skills and experiences are you acquiring via this position? What are you enjoying most about the work?

ICG provides a uniquely challenging environment which has undoubtedly led me to develop highly valuable skills. These skills include those required in any fast-paced, private-sector firm with a results-based environment. I have developed significant Excel, PowerPoint, and quantitative analysis skills in line with what is expected at larger consulting firms such as BCG and McKinsey. This position has also allowed me to develop my professional writing, time management, and communication skills.

3) How has your Arts degree prepared you for this position?

As part of the Bachelor of International Economics (BIE) program, I felt well prepared for the position at ICG. The rigorous BIE curriculum helped me develop some of the quantitative and critical thinking skills that I draw upon on a daily basis in my position. Furthermore, I developed a strong work ethic while managing BIE’s demanding work load – a skill that has served me very well in my current position.

“The rigorous BIE curriculum helped me develop some of the quantitative and critical thinking skills that I draw upon on a daily basis in my position.”

4) What are the top 3 tips you have for landing your first Co-op job?

1) Focus on quality, not just quantity:

Landing your first Co-op position is not always easy. My number one tip is to really focus on producing quality applications which are custom tailored to each position. It is not enough to send out 20 nearly-identical applications. It truly pays off to put in the extra time to customize both your cover letter and your resume.

2) Form a personal connection:

For each job I applied to through Co-op, I made it a point to connect with at least one person at that company/firm. Not only did I find this informative, but this extra effort also goes a long way with employers. For several of the positions I was offered, I met with up to 3 different people connected to the position including current and previous co-op students and current employees.

3) Ask yourself why:

It is critical to ask yourself exactly why you are applying to a given position. Not everyone gets their first choice for their first Co-op job, but without a clear understanding of why you want to work and what you hope to gain from that experience, it is very difficult to genuinely express this to an employer and convince them that you are the right fit for the position.

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