Don’t hold yourself back. Challenge the status quo—including your own. Take a risk. Those are the key messages Allison Dietz shares in a recent blog post about her. She’s the Weston Career Center’s associate director of employer relations for healthcare, technology and entrepreneurship, and she was recently featured on the blog “Free Coffee with Alex.”
The blog is written by Alex Burkart, a strategic intelligence analyst and director of marketing for America’s Central Port in Granite City, Illinois, one of the Midwest’s largest freight hubs and economic development engines. He also manages his own consultancy, Never Industries, Inc.
Stumbling into a class in organizational psychology opened a new world for Dietz, allowing her to explore a personal curiosity about how the human resources side of organizations.
“Recruiting is the fun part of HR, the people side,” she says. “I’m most proud of the … times I get the opportunity to help expand their skills and make them realize they are capable of more than just the cookie cutter version of what their degree may be pointing them towards.”
“There’s so much pressure for status. Take a step back and remember to focus on the aspects that really matter in your life, like your time,” she says. “Focus on what matters most, and don’t be so easy to sacrifice it early in your career.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting St. Louis-based businesses. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Ally Gerard, BSBA ’22, who worked on competitive analysis for Institutiform Technology.
The late playwright Jonathan Larson wrote, “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” In the face of adversity and these times of tribulation, it isn’t enough to sit idly by and accept our circumstances. We must constantly create opportunity and value for ourselves and for others.
Larson’s words rang ever so true this summer of 2020, and I truly have the WashU and St. Louis communities to thank for that.
In April, on the eve of spring semester reading week, I lost my maternal grandmother to a nearly 30-year battle with breast cancer. My family was devastated. To make matters worse, several days later, I received official news that my summer internship program was canceled due to uncertainties of the pandemic and the future of professional sports seasons.
So much stability, so many plans were ripped out from underneath me, and I had to pivot. When I heard about the CEL summer program, it just felt meant to be.
I was coming off a spring semester in the Small Business Initiative and had a great experience participating in that course and leading that team. I enjoyed the client communication and collaboration, as well as the opportunity to apply my Olin education to real-life business situations in the St. Louis community. That being said, I came into this summer experience with high expectations because, at this point, I knew the CEL well and really trusted the professors leading the charge on this summer initiative.
Unsurprisingly, it did meet those high expectations. Maybe I just lucked out with the most amazing and supportive teammates, client and faculty advisor, but I really just consider that a testament to the unparalleled community Olin has fostered over the years.
This summer, I had the pleasure of leading the student team of Zach Fisher, BSBA ’22; Helen Hu, MS ’20; and Yiqiao Wang, MS ’20; with guidance from Professor John Horn. Our group consulted for Insituform Technologies, a subsidiary of Aegion Corporation. Insituform specializes in pipeline installation and rehabilitation, offering its renowned cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) technology across numerous North American regions.
Throughout the seven-week engagement, our group conducted regional competitive analyses to understand Insituform’s bid performance, bid aggressiveness, and competitive threats on the regional level. We also evaluated how certain elements of a project (such as pipe diameter and prime-contractor or subcontractor roles) affected Insituform’s win percentage for these municipality bids.
All this research built up to our final deliverable, which was an Excel model that predicted the project backlog of one of Insituform’s largest national competitors. It was a very complex, data-heavy undertaking; however, we were able to create a functional model that will be of benefit to Insituform’s competitive strategy moving forward.
However, tragedy hit again just two days before our final presentation, when I received news that my maternal grandfather passed away from an unexpected heart attack. I actually found out during a CEL team meeting. It was a true shock and incredibly overwhelming to grapple with while preparing to present our final findings to the client.
Despite the emotional obstacle, I will never forget the immense love and support I received from my student team, our faculty advisor, and our program manager Amy Soell. They gave me strength and made me so proud, again, to be an Olin student.
Life handed me a basketful of lemons this summer, and the CEL really helped facilitate a transformative lemonade-making process. I will always be thankful to Olin for innovating and executing this unforgettable professional learning opportunity, and I look forward to reconnecting with my teammates and faculty advisor in the fall!
WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Jane (Donghui) Zhao, MSF ’15, green package analytics and support associate, BlackRock
with Mark Schlafly, an adviser at Olin’s Weston Career Center, helped Jane Zhao
navigate career issues and adapt to American culture in ways that have led to professional
very grateful for him because I feel he changed my personality while I was in
school, so that definitely was the biggest win in addition to my degree,” she
said. “It changed how I carry myself and everything else.”
Tapping all the
resources the WCC provides helped Zhao land her current job with BlackRock in
Wilmington, Delaware. Zhao continues to draw on Olin resources by returning
twice a year to recruit for BlackRock. “We’re recruiting some really great
students right now.”
She lauded Olin for providing students with soft skills such as communication, resume writing and language training. “The WCC has workshops that help you network and help navigate American culture,” Zhao said. “WCC is doing a really good job.”
Shannon Hagedorn, a career coach for the BSBA program in the Weston Career Center, wrote this for the Olin Blog.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes intention, coordination and time to create great things, whether they are architectural masterpieces that last centuries or an effective career pipeline.
We knew we had a lot of work to do to build up investment banking at WashU. About a year and a half ago, we received feedback from students, alumni and employers. We listened and acted accordingly. Now, we’re developing a program that has strong relationships with alumni and employers, thorough preparation resources for students and a more inclusive process of connecting students to available opportunities.
We (and I use that term very loosely and inclusively to refer to students, staff, employers and alumni!) have been very busy with the following initiatives:
IB Interview Prep Sessions and Mock Superdays: Hosted prep sessions, collaborated with the WashU Career Center to conduct two rounds of IB mock superdays with 10 alumni and employers as interviewers, and processed feedback in additional interview prep sessions.
Author Talk: Gleaned insights from Josh Rosenbaum, managing director and head of industrials & diversified services at RBC. He discussing his book, Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions.
On-Campus Information Sessions: Connected with Lazard, Lincoln International, Moelis and RBC in person.
124-Page Trek Prep Binder and Prep Session: Compiled recent data from Market Line and Bloomberg into trek notebooks and discussed each student’s research on each firm’s strengths and news as well as questions to ask each firm individually during a prep session.
Four-Part IB Essentials Spring Series: Launched a webinar series designed to equip sophomores with critical insight about accounting, the leveraged buyout, mergers and analyst expectations for interviews and internships.
Organized Virtual Information Sessions and 28 Alumni Coffee Chats: Converted in-person trek sessions and networking activities cancelled due to COVID-19 into effective virtual experiences with alumni and contacts at PWP, Moelis, Centerview, Houlihan Lokey, RBC, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Cain Brothers, Citadel Investments, AWH Investments, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc., Wolf Hill Capital, NBC Universal, Eco Street Capital, Benefit Street Partners, and US Bank.
25 IB Mentor Matches: Paired first-years and sophomores with recent alumni for a four-session mentorship, in collaboration with the WashU Career Center.
20-Plus Mock Interviews with Senior Bankers at Goldman Sachs: Developed skills and gained insights from behavioral and technical questions.
IB Insights Summer Series Podcasts: Engaged 10-plus alumni and industry experts to offer short, high-level, exploratory conversations for students early in their career discernment.
Countless Coaching Sessions, Informational Interviews, Mock Interviews, Info Sessions, and Conversations with Students, Alumni and Employers: Appreciated that a lot of work happens behind the scenes and that this list only begins to scratch the surface of recognizing what we’re all doing to help students prepare for and secure their next steps.
We’ve still got a lot to do but we’re excited to start seeing results, including feedback from our team’s collective efforts, landing stories from students, and recognition from firms. You can take my word for it, or read some of the comments below:
Matt Bauer, BSBA ’22, who accepted a 2021 internship at Lincoln International, “wanted to say thank you and express my gratitude for all the help and advice you’ve given me along the way. Going back to the beginning of the year when I didn’t even have a resume, I definitely couldn’t have done it without you.”
Addison Liang, BSBA ’22, who accepted a 2021 internship at Credit Suisse, was grateful for “all [the] help throughout this process!”
Ian Welsh, BSBA ’22, who accepted a 2021 internship at Morgan Stanley, “wanted to say thanks for helping me with so many aspects of this process. It is so helpful to have people like you at the career center that are so willing to help guide me through every step of the process.”
We know it takes time, but we’re laying the foundations for a self-perpetuating cycle and lasting impact, as we build investment banking at WashU.
Pictured at top: Alumni from Guggenheim, Lincoln International, Barclays, Lazard, Oppenheimer and Moelis offered insights in a superday of IB mock interviews. (Pictured left to right: Matt Bernstein, Vaios Kouvelis, Syed Ahsan, Colin McCune, Nikhil Angelo, Bill Reisner, Meg Stolberg and Calvin Works).
WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Onyi Oradiegwu, BSBME ’15/MBA ’15, consultant, Boston Consulting Group
While working as an
internal auditor and process consultant at Owens Corning’s fiberglass plant in
Tennessee, Onyi Oradiegwu decided she wanted to make the jump to management
consulting. She connected with Olin for help during her case interview preparation
process. The coaching and advice she received through Olin were integral to her
interview preparation—and to receiving an offer from Boston Consulting Group.
“With each practice
session, I grew more comfortable with my behavioral and case interview skills
and more sure of my genuine interest in working as a management consultant,”
she said. “Practice matters.”
Oradiegwu especially enjoyed being able to schedule time online with career advisers, the use of resume tools and access to a bank of prep materials. “I feel like I can rely on WashU and Olin for the rest of my life for support if I ever do look for another job,” she said. “I’m glad I was able to tap into those resources because it really did make a difference in my job interview.”