Today marks the end of my fourth week here at Oxford. The program is almost over, but that is not all that this week marks. It was also our last week of business visits. Although the Oxford Program consists of taking two Georgetown classes: Strategic Management and International Finance, a large part of our learning is conducted outside of the classroom. Aside from earning six credits, we also have formal dinners with important businessmen once a week and we visit foremost multinational companies to learn firsthand about global business—a must for an International Business major like me.
Over the course of the program we visited a total of seven firms: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bain Consulting, Goldman Sachs, Skadden Legal Firm, Fullers Brewery, the Bank of England, and Deloitte. I will confess that some of these visits have been better than others, but for the most part, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. These visits also enabled me to gain a better understanding of firms that I thought I already knew so much about. For instance, Goldman Sachs was not exactly at the top of my list of companies I wanted to visit. After two years at Georgetown I have interacted with my fair share of aspiring Goldman Sachs employees, and they sometimes seem to be rather pompous individuals who fit the negative stereotypes about investment bankers, leading me to have not-so-great ideas about Goldman and what it is like to work there. Admittedly, I was one of the students who raised her hand at the start of the Goldman presentation when asked, “Who here has a negative view of Goldman Sachs?” and I scoffed when our presenter suggested that maybe they could change my mind.
When Katie Koch walked in, her positive energy was undeniable. She used our names when addressing us— a huge plus. I mean, who doesn’t love hearing their own name? Not to mention, the love she has for her job appeared genuine and uncorrelated to the amount of money she made. Katie was engaging to say the least. Because of time constraints we were not able to vote again on our perspectives of Goldman Sachs at the end of the visit, but I know that my view is now a more positive one after spending time at the company and interacting with members of its staff.
The McDonough School of Business is very Finance-focused. A large number of the companies that recruit at Georgetown are either banking institutions or one of the Big Four accounting firms. As a result, if your ultimate career goals are not encompassed in the banking or accounting industries, then it can be difficult to know what your other options are. I honestly did not expect the Oxford business visits to differ from that precedent. I assumed that I would be becoming a lot more familiar with investment banking and asset management, and I have, but I have also learned a great deal about management consulting, the steps to becoming a lawyer, as well as major companies that I did not know existed before arriving at Oxford.
Moral of the Story: Despite always being confident about my choice of majors, International Business and Operations and Information Management, I had very little idea about what I wanted to do with them. Visiting Bain & Company opened me up to the idea of management consulting as a career. If I don’t gain another thing from studying abroad, at least it gave me a bit of guidance.