Ever wonder what graduate student life is really like? For UBC Professional Master of Business Administration (PMBA) student Kevonnie Whyte, learnings from the classroom are only the beginning. As someone who is deeply engrained in the fabric and community of the UBC Sauder School of Business, she shares three ways she has made the most of her PMBA experience.
1. Joining the student society leadership team
I serve as the Vice President, External and Career Development for the PMBA 2023 Student Executive Committee. When I first started the program in 2021, I sat down with Marja Harmer, Manager of PMBA Career Programs, Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre and PMBA Residency Instructor at UBC Sauder. I told her my career goals and we spoke about all of the different opportunities at the school. She helped me set a foundation and those conversations guided me in figuring out where I wanted to get involved.
The first idea that came up was serving on the executive team for my PMBA cohort. At the time, we were still studying 100 per cent virtually and I was craving a sense of community. I knew I needed an anchor so I didn’t feel disconnected from my cohort. I saw it as the perfect way to stay immersed in the program. Through my work in this role, I realized that my cohort was looking for more opportunities related to product management and consulting. I formed partnerships with other clubs like the UBC Product Management Club and the UBC Sauder Management Consulting Club. We cross-developed programs, including bringing in guests for our Speaker Series.
My experience on the team has been so phenomenal. I enjoy working with the different team members – it feels like family and we spend a lot of time together. I highly recommend it.
2. Leaning in to consulting
A big reason why I decided to pursue the PMBA was to pick up the pace of my career progression. I knew I was interested in consulting and needed an accelerator to open up more opportunities. Thankfully, UBC Sauder offers a lot of avenues to get a taste for consulting.
Clubs like the UBC Strategy Consulting Initiative and the UBC Sauder Management Consulting Club (SMCC) are great ways to get involved if you’re looking for a sense of what client engagement looks like but in a more secure environment.
Last July, through my work with the SMCC, I engaged in a 10-week pro bono consulting project with Willow Lake Métis Nation in Alberta. The support and resources offered by the SMCC made me feel confident. The club gives students so many materials about the methodology of engagement, what the first and subsequent weeks should look like, how to conduct focus interviews, how to create decks, and how to talk with clients.
3. Pursuing mentorship and recruitment opportunities
I first learned about the UBC Sauder Strategy Consulting Mentorship Program (SCMP) through the school’s online career management system, Career Options On-Line (COOL). The mentorship program is essentially a consulting boot camp offered in the summer that is available to undergraduate and graduate students. It’s two months of lectures, networking, and interview and resume preparation. It’s meant to equip students for careers in consulting. This preparation helped me immensely when I was interviewing for internships.
This summer, I was able to take a leave of absence from my full-time job as a business analyst in the healthcare sector to pursue an internship as a Senior Strategy Consultant in Accenture’s Strategy Consulting Development Program. It’s been such a formative experience so far. I’m interested in human capital and talent development and I would love to angle my career in that direction at some point in the future.
If I could sum up my UBC PMBA experience in one word it would be: opportunities. The PMBA offers so much flexibility to take full advantage of possibilities, all while working full-time. The cohort experience has helped me build my network, and I’ve gained exposure to so many different mentorship and career development tools. The range of pathways in front of me makes me excited for whatever is next in my career after graduation.
- Kevonnie Whyte, PMBA Class of 2023