A Chance To Mentor and A Chance To Learn

In a two part article, Steve Byun, AM '01, recounts how he was involved with the creation of the Alumni Club's APDP Program and found an intern in Matthew Pellegrino, AB '11. Matthew relates the impact of this internship on his current career path.

Steve's story:

Throughout my career, I've always wondered what kinds of experiences other professionals had and whether they were similar to mine. I've also often wondered what kind of industry, company and role was a good fit long term. Throughout many of my extraordinary opportunities, transitions, mishaps and challenges, I hoped that many other young and mid-career professionals had more positive experiences than negative ones and were able to transition seamlessly throughout their respective career paths.

In hindsight, I feel fortunate to have had a great career placement service at the University of Chicago in terms of resume writing and reviewing, interview preparation, salary negotiation and job placement with top companies and organizations. As I meet with fellow UChicago alumni as well as friends from other schools and hear about their career ambitions and struggles, I've always felt compelled to help in one way or another. Over the years, I've helped about half a dozen friends get started with their careers and often thought about how I could do this in a broader setting where I could help more than one person at a time.

At a NYC fundraising and happy hour event in Nov-Dec 2011, I met the University’s Alumni Club of NYC staff liaison who wanted to help me launch this program and that was the beginning. Throughout the following year, we worked together along with the guidance of Parmalee Reid (AB '04), Hayoung Kim (AB '02) and Manish Singh (SM '11) to create what we called the UChicago Alumni Professional Development Program (APDP).

The primary objective of the program was to find volunteer teachers from high demand industries to teach tangible, technical skills to recent alumni and mid-career professionals wanting to get into certain high demand industries like management consulting, law, financial services, investment banking, insurance, advertising, market research, etc. The second objective was to assign each student one mentor and one mentee and recommended that they meet once every one or two months.

In May, 23rd and 30th 2012, I taught the pilot course entitled "Introduction to Management Consulting, Marketing Analytics, Multiple Linear Regression, SAS/SPSS, Marketing Mix Modeling & ROI" in 2.5 hour sessions over the two days. After registration opened, the course filled up to its maximum of 22-24 people relatively quickly.

Matthew Pellegrino (AB '11) was a student in the pilot course and a recent Philosophy BA graduate who was seeking a career in Financial Services or Management Consulting. He was an extremely bright and polite young man. After the first course, some of us went across the street to grab a beer after the first class and we discussed his interest in doing an internship for one of the start-up companies I was a part of at the time. In the ensuing weeks, Matthew and I set his development plan, career goals, and work schedule. During the internship, he focused on Digital Marketing, Web Marketing Analytics, CRM Marketing, Social Media Marketing and SAS programming.

I was very happy with his performance. He was a hard worker and a quick learner. He was a well-put-together young man and very dedicated to getting his career off the ground. After the internship, he took a couple independent contract consulting projects before landing his first full-time job with a Boutique Management Consulting firm in NYC, where he is still working.

I've read recently that to be successful these days, one needs to create their own majors, set their career path, have "grit" and don't stop til they get what they want, which in turn shapes their character. He certainly reminded me of some of the grit I had to have to get my career off the ground. Matthew is currently consulting Fortune 500 companies across several Industries like Banking and Pharmaceuticals. He lives in Brooklyn and works mostly onsite at his clients. Matthew’s story is typical of many recent graduates but this is his story and one that will shape his future. Helping others achieve their career goals is such a rewarding experience. Below is Matthew's version of his story.

Matthew's story:

In early 2012, I moved to New York City after living abroad in order to find a job. That Spring I attended an alumni club event on management consulting and data analytics in order to develop data analytics skills and form a basic understanding of the management consulting industry. Steve Byun (AM '01) taught that class and was coincidentally looking for help with an entrepreneurial endeavor that seemed to be a good opportunity to develop the above skills. A week or two later I quit my meagerly paid restaurant job to take an un-paid internship with Steve’s company; it was a difficult decision to make at the time, but I was optimistic that, somehow, I would find a more fulfilling role as a result sometime down the line.

The internship period was for two months and it gave me a good grounding in data analytics and management consulting. The skills and experience that I developed gave me confidence in searching for additional work as a freelance consultant, which I ultimately found through continuous networking in the city. Throughout this time I was constantly networking, studying, applying, and interviewing for jobs, but the market was incredibly rigid and employers seemed anxious about the near- and mid-term economic environment.

Fortunately, my studies in various fields allowed me to gain a broad understanding of various industries, and my freelancing experience forced me to develop an entrepreneurial sense for finding and creating work opportunities. Both of these have prepared me well for my current role at a boutique management consulting firm.

Of course, I am also thankful to have formed a relationship with Steve from this experience, who has been extremely generous in helping me prepare for interviews, serving as a reference, and for initially helping me down the path that I’m currently on.

For more information on the APDP and other Career Resources for UChicago NYC Alumni, refer to the Website's Events page for future offerings as well as the hardcopy program brochures. Upcoming APDP courses include: SAS and/or R programming and resume writing and interviewing preparation from experienced industry professionals. Stay tuned!