Nathaniel on Getting the Most Out of His Northwestern Experience

Chenjian YangName: Nathaniel

Year: Sophomore

Major: Mathematics, Economics

CFS Program: Field Studies in Modern Workplace

My CFS quarter has been the greatest quarter in my Northwestern experience so far. The most rewarding aspect is definitely the work experience that you could not possibly get through other academic programs. As a sophomore and transfer student, I found out that Northwestern’s pre-professional environment is intense and sometimes even intimidating. CFS provides students with the systematic support from internship search and interview preparation to strategic negotiation with employers and accepting offers. In addition, during the internship, I am glad to realize that although “adulting” could be hard at times for a college student I still like working as a professional better than schooling, which means I will prefer a full-time job over graduate school after graduation.

HBR Consulting stands out to me not only as a highly professional firm dedicated to providing management advice and procurement solutions to major law firms, but also as a personal firm that cares about the well-being and development of every employee and intern. Consultants and managers are typically very young and energetic persons with unbelievable motivation and willingness to work long hours. Although they are trusted to get their work done by the deadline, most people normally start working at 8 and go home at 6:30 to 7:30 with only a short lunch break at their desks during the whole period. As an intern, you naturally want to work harder amongst a bunch of persons as motivated as they are. Despite the fact that my colleagues are usually quite busy, they are the most helpful people I have ever met in my life. HBR has a very welcoming and collegiate culture, in which people are friendly and eager to learn and impart knowledge in a casual environment. The fact that everybody takes pride in their work makes it easier for interns to learn as much as possible. Each intern is assigned a supervisor on his team and a mentor outside the team, and HBR even sets up networking lunch for us with people from other teams and divisions. It’s only been my second week at HBR, but I have already been involved with some analytical works apart from performing some mundane tasks such as data entry and preparing for newsletters. Most of the analyses are based on Excel and procurement software. I like the fact that I can see exactly how much spending we can save for our client based on the analysis. As the internship continues, I will also become more familiar with different negotiation strategies and contract details.

I would take this chance to stress that the class experience is an indispensable part of this program. As a mathematics and economics major, I don’t enjoy humanity classes in general. However, being able to see how literature on the modern workplace may refer to my internship experience really helps me understand historical events and theories better. The internship and class combination makes the learning process more enjoyable than traditional classes.

I would highly recommend taking CFS if you ever feel like gaining practical experience in the professional realm, or if you are confused about what to do after graduation and need time to think things through. The experience would be worthwhile of your time and effort. I am grateful I was able to seize such an incredible opportunity early in my sophomore year. Actually, CFS is one of the reasons that I transferred from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill to Northwestern, as evidenced in my application essay:
“Northwestern University’s academic comprehensiveness seems to satisfy all my needs… I would love to take the opportunity to participate in special programs such as Chicago Fields Study (CFS), which examines different aspects of Chicago, such as social justice, law, business, and organizational behavior.”