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Business Boot Camp 2018

The four-day on-campus workshop aims to inspire and empower students interested in careers in business

By Daniel P. Smith

Jonathan Zarrilli ’20 and Somil Sanghvi ’20 are prepared to exercise their minds.

Along with more than 60 other Northwestern undergraduates, Zarrilli and Sanghvi took their first steps toward potential careers in business by enrolling in the College’s four-day Business Boot Camp.

An annual alumni-driven program sponsored by the Harvey Kapnick Center for Business Institutions and Northwestern Career Advancement, the four-day hands-on program is designed to educate and prepare students for the modern business world.

“I’m really excited to meet established alumni in different areas of business, learn about some potential careers I could pursue and acquire and learn how to apply a few of the real skills that I’ll need to succeed,” says Sanghvi, an economics major. 

Adds Zarrilli, a double major in economics and history: “I’m most excited to have my questions answered about differences between career paths in business and to develop relationships with the alumni I’ll be working with.” 

A program with a purpose 

Dan Shedivy ’97, a former strategy consultant and investment-banker-turned-chief financial officer, co-founded the Business Boot Camp with economics professor Mark Witte in 2002 after lamenting the absence of business-specific learning opportunities during his years as an economics undergraduate. 

“Back then,” Shedivy says, “I didn’t understand the full scope of career paths in business, and I wish someone had grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘Look over there.’”

Specifically targeting first-year students and sophomores, Business Boot Camp aims to inspire and empower Northwestern students by sharing an unvarnished look into the business world through interactive exercises and interaction with alumni currently in fields such as investment banking, industry and consulting. 

“It’s a soup-to-nuts experience designed to teach important skills and provide exposure to different opportunities in the business world,” Shedivy says. 

Intensified learning 

At Business Boot Camp’s Jan. 17 kickoff event in Harris Hall, five Weinberg College alumni with consulting and investment-banking experience discussed their motivations to enter and stay in their respective fields, as well as how to land internships and stand out in a competitive marketplace. 

Over the next three days, students dug deeper into the business world, learning the fundamentals of accounting and creating a mock company they would then prepare for sale. Later, students analyzed that company from three distinct perspectives: the entrepreneur preparing to sell the company; a private equity investor evaluating an investment in the business; and a strategic consultant tasked to examine the company’s growth potential.

“Through this experience, we hope students gain a better appreciation for where they can go and what they have to do to be successful,” Shedivy says. 

That objective energizes Sanghvi, who is particularly interested in pursuing a career in strategy or management consulting and eager to learn about the general career path of individuals in those fields. 

“I really want to learn more about business and about how I can develop some of the skills needed for success at the next level,” Sanghvi says.

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