Author: Bear Studios


About Bear Studios

A company founded and run by students that focuses on strategy, design, and technology for clients in St. Louis and beyond.

Andrew Wu (BSBA ’22) wrote this for the Olin Blog. He’s majoring in computer science and finance and is a technology fellow at Bear Studios.


A word that has been stuck in my head since I began thinking about life after high school. Like many of my peers, I was stuck trying to figure out what career path would be the best fit.

It seemed easy enough: pick a major that would give me the best employment opportunities after graduation. But when it came time to submit my university applications, I was stuck with two questions. What is my purpose? What career best fits that purpose?

In my junior year of high school, I had narrowed my options down to biomedical engineering, computer science and finance. Over the summer, I brought up my concerns with my uncle, and in an attempt to help me he took me on a tour of his office at the Apple Park. I remember looking around in awe of the modern design, the massive communal field, and the people riding by on Apple-branded bicycles. Everything looked so immaculate. Even the pebbles looked like they were manually affixed to the path. It felt perfect.

But as we were about to enter his office, a section of the staircase caught my eye. Instead of leading to the main doors, it veered off to the side, straight into a bush. I turned to my uncle to make a joke of such a pointless slab of concrete. He took one look, laughed and said. “Have you never found yourself trying to find a place to sit outside, but when you sat down on a staircase you felt like you were blocking someone’s path? That’s what that staircase is for. Not for walking, but for sitting.”

While touring the park didn’t help me make my decision, that one small, seemingly insignificant interaction has been essential to my university experience so far. Eventually, I decided on biomedical engineering as my major and committed to WashU. thinking that I would graduate and become a biomedical engineer.

But during my first semester, I learned that many of the graduates in my major went on to do very similar things post-graduation, the majority going into medical or graduate school, consulting or industry. As I sat in the lecture halls with my peers, the same two questions kept nagging me. Would I truly find my own purpose following that same path, or like that staircase, could I redefine my own purpose? By doing so, would I inadvertently limit my opportunities?

To find some answers, I decided to take classes for the other majors that I considered—computer science and finance. After a few weeks I immediately knew that this was the better path. I was much more engrossed with the material, so I soon found myself switching to computer science and adding a second major in finance from Olin.

Going down a more uncertain path has allowed me to see new opportunities to reconcile these two areas of interest that otherwise I would not have been able to discover. One such opportunity was Bear Studios, a student-run consulting firm. During my sophomore year I saw that Bear Studios was recruiting, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put my skills to the test. I successfully applied to be a technology fellow, and now I’ve had opportunities to leverage my passions and help St. Louis entrepreneurs.

Even now, going into junior year, I am still not able to confidently define my own purpose and passions. But by reminding myself that this time in university is an incredible opportunity to grow alongside like-minded individuals with unique dreams and aspirations, I have been able to continue searching for those definitions.

By actively branching out to explore new interests and applying what I’ve learned in different ways, I am creating my own path.

Brock Mullen, BSBA ’23, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is majoring in finance and Chinese.

We all have difficulty processing change – not knowing what the future holds can be intimidating. However, by embracing differences and learning to love them, we can improve our future.

Confronting change

On my first day at WashU, my dorm went through a roll call to make sure everyone had moved in. While waiting to be called, I realized I had never heard almost any of the names being called out: “Ezinne,” “Ishana,” “Hans,” “Karinne.” These were nothing like the names from back home; I was used to the five Jakes and seven Graces I had grown up with since preschool. I later recognized I had been presented with the first major change of my college experience, and I knew there would be a lot more heading my way.

My hometown of Parker, Colorado, is quite different from WashU. Parker is virtually homogenous racially, politically and economically. I got used to being around people just like me, so it was uncomfortable to be around so much newness. In my initial shock, I wasn’t sure how to address the variety of novel perspectives now presenting themselves as names, ideologies and more. I knew that this change was happening whether I wanted it to or not. I needed to learn how to cope.

Coping with change

I spent a lot of time reflecting on my new experiences. Soon after processing the new faces, ideas and perspectives, I came to realize that college is about more than learning from lectures and textbooks. It’s about learning how to handle change. Life is not predictable. So, in order to take full advantage of my life and time at WashU, I needed to master the skill that is processing and internalizing change.

To grasp change and make it easier to handle, I always look for the positive in every situation. There is always something good to cling to! Through my optimism, I enhance my ability to accept change. Focusing on the benefits, especially when facing inevitably uncomfortable situations, will allow you to overcome them and seize the opportunity to learn.

Chasing change

Since learning how to embrace change, I have been the recipient of seemingly endless benefits. Still, it’s not easy to immediately absorb and accept the changes thrust upon my day-to-day. It is through consistent reflection that I continue to learn so much about other cultures, people, and lifestyles different from mine back in Parker. By seeking out opportunities to engage with change, I am a more well-rounded person and better prepared to tackle the future challenges of my life.

Claire Huang, BSBA ’23, wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is majoring in finance and economics and strategy and minoring in data analytics.

When a swimmer dives into the water, their arms automatically join together in front of them, forming a hydrodynamic point meant to maximize momentum and minimize drag. This is a streamline, a technique I have practiced many times during my 14 years as a competitive swimmer.

Although I no longer swim, I am now a first-year at WashU, and I believe we could all do well to follow the swimmer’s lead and implement streamlining in our daily lives. As a first-year, it is especially easy to get overwhelmed with clubs, activities and academics. It gets to the point where covering all of your bases can feel like playing a game of Twister.

Streamlining at school can be a great way to maximize our time and energy while minimizing unnecessary commitments to focus on what matters to each of us.

Identifying key values

My first step to streamlining my WashU experience was to create a list of my commitments—everything from classes to clubs to sports teams. I had a lot to write down. I am one of those students who grabbed every flyer from the Mudd Activity Fair and signed up for any club I found even remotely interesting.

After creating my list, I needed to identify my key values. I started by thinking about what I hoped to gain from my college experience. I knew I wanted to prioritize academics, but also explore as many professional opportunities as possible. While widening my social and personal network was also important, I felt that was a natural process that became secondary to my two primary goals.

Paring things down—streamlining

Finally, using the values I identified, I evaluated my list of activities and decided which to keep and which to drop. I chose to keep plenty of professional development extracurriculars, including Phi Gamma Nu, a professional business fraternity; Arch Consulting, a case competition team; and Bear Studios, a student-run consulting firm.

In particular, Bear Studios appealed to me as it provided an amazing opportunity to implement the strategic business development concepts I learned in management 100 to real-life client projects ​and ​receive compensation for my work. Bear Studios occupies a unique place in my life at the intersection of both my academic and professional goals.

Looking back, I’m thankful I was able to streamline my interests so quickly as a first-year. It saved me time so I could pursue what mattered most.

In turn, I am more satisfied with my day-to-day work. I have more energy to pursue my goals and more momentum that propels me to achieve them. However, this isn’t to say I’ve completely decluttered my life. I still look for ways to streamline, out of the pool and in my new school.

Emily Su

Emily Su, BSBA ’22, is a strategy fellow for Bear Studios, a student-led consulting firm on campus. She wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is studying finance and economics and strategy with a minor in philosophy.

Students today seem to approach life full steam ahead, fielding questions like, “Where are you working next summer?” or “What are you doing after graduation?” It’s not often that you hear people talk about time as something that can, or should, be slowed down.

In high school, I watched a TED talk that introduced the idea of recording one second of each day. By the end of 2016, I had a roughly 6-minute long video of the past 365 days.

This project, not one of physics or science, enabled me to slow down time and rewatch my life. After all, the more memories we have in our memory network, the more reference points we have to look back upon, and the fuller we perceive our lives to be.

Now, each time I rewatch my videos, I travel back to 00:00:00 and relive that year.

There are always moments of simplicity—moments easily forgotten, but nonetheless integral to my college experience, like a St. Louis sunset overlooking Mudd Field.

There are memories that I would have rather forgotten in the moment, like walking out of a technical interview where I couldn’t answer half of the interviewer’s questions.

But there are also moments of pride and joy, like being admitted into one of WashU’s business fraternities and meeting new mentors and peers who would become my closest friends.

Together, these clips are no more than a few gigabytes of data on my computer’s hard drive, but they have contributed more to my perspective on life than I ever would have imagined.

When I sit down to rewatch one of my videos, I am reminded once again of the incredible brevity of time. I’ve realized that both the ups and downs are always going to be present in my life, and thus can be vital learning experiences if reflected on properly.

Now, as a sophomore in Olin Business School, the benefits of my recordings are indisputable. I almost forgot that in early 2016, I volunteered at a nonprofit that taught underprivileged children the basics of saving and spending.

This experience is what prompted me to apply to business school in the first place: I had realized that I wanted to find the intersection between business and philanthropy.

After watching my 2016 video and re-familiarizing myself with my original passions and interests, I joined Bear Studios with the hopes of uplifting companies and individuals in a business environment.

Beyond redefining our professional aspirations, these videos can also push us to live more in the moment. What use are disappearing Snapchats or Instagram stories when we have everlasting highlight reels of our lives?

As students, we’re constantly searching for the next rung of the ladder: the next class, the next internship, the next step in our lives. But we now have the ability to slow down time and keep everything in perspective—and if we can take advantage of something that unthinkable, we can apply it to the challenges that lie ahead.

Julie Wang is a rising sophomore in the Olin Business School studying Marketing and Economics & Strategy. Julie works as Strategy Fellow for Bear Studios, an undergraduate, student-run consulting and design firm.

Julie Wang, BSBA ’22, is studying marketing and economics & strategy. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

We always ask ourselves: What’s next? After one chapter ends, what’s the next one?

These are questions that I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past year, as one natural “chapter” of my life — high school — closed and a new one started at Washington University in St. Louis. As I approached the last page on graduation day, I realized how I content I was with that chapter. The ending to this part of the story brought me to a destination toward which I had been working for so long and it all seemed to perfectly set me up to write the next four years.

To my surprise, I got to campus in the fall and the words started to fail me. Although I had years of experience as the author of my own life novel, I realized that for once in my life, I didn’t exactly know where the plot was going next.

What I prided myself on so much in high school — knowing clearly who I am and what I wanted to do—seemed to crumble when an environment filled with new people and opportunities tested me. I started to ask myself questions that had no answers.

What do you want to major in? At the moment, I thought I couldn’t possibly pick a major without knowing what I want to do post-graduation. What are you going to be involved with on campus? A question I once thought to be effortless to answer suddenly seemed just as enigmatic as the other.

All my life, it’s been one chapter after the next. I saw life in a way that seemingly reduced my options, because if something didn’t contribute to the next chapter, then it wasn’t anything at all. I limited my growth to my academic and extracurricular environments; when those chapters ended, I thought I was left with little to substantiate my “story.” If I didn’t have a destination, it seemed like I didn’t have a purpose.

Coming into college without a single ounce of confidence in what I want to do in the near future opened my mind to the idea that perhaps I don’t need to be certain about the contents of the next chapter to begin writing my story. This shift in perspective allowed me to find opportunities I otherwise may have never discovered if I had confined myself to a single mindset.

Refocusing my direction led me to consider Bear Studios, a student-led consulting and design firm that was recruiting strategy fellows for its consulting practice at the time. I had little idea as to what consulting entailed but was intrigued by the opportunity to interact with real-world businesses in the St. Louis area.

Before coming to college, I had never envisioned myself as a consultant—it wasn’t a part of my story. Yet, participating in Bear Studios has since been one of the most formative learning experiences of my first year.

During my second semester, I also decided to take a step out of my comfort zone by rushing a business fraternity. Although I wasn’t sure what was to be of my experience, the organization has shaped my growth tremendously, building my first-year story and introducing me to new ideas, opportunities, and networks on campus and in the business world.

Now, with the end of my first year of college and the start of summer break, I am faced with a re-evaluation of how I want to sustain my learning in these next few months.

Sometimes, it’s still difficult to grapple with my goal-oriented and destination-focused past self—because not knowing can truly be intimidating. But if there’s anything I do know now, it’s that I want to see life not in chapters, but as a continuum of personal growth and sustained learning. We don’t need a new “chapter” to start new projects or grow in different ways and we certainly don’t need to know how our story ends to begin writing it now.

Pictured above: Julie pictured with members of her professional fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.