Kelly Satterlee graduated from Northwestern University in 2015 with a degree in biomedical engineering and economics. She now works for ZS Associates, a leading sales and marketing consulting firm. ZS Associates is currently recruiting on campus, and Satterlee was able to provide an inside scoop into the process.
Q: At what stage during your time at Northwestern did you decide you wanted to go into consulting, and how did you come to this decision?
A: I had done research in a lab at Northwestern up until my junior year, and I realized the part that I liked about working in a lab was the lab meetings. I liked when we came together as a group and diagnosed why a certain experiment was working, and had that collaborative back and forth. I had heard about consulting through the grape vine at Northwestern, as a lot of us do, so my junior year I applied to both industry internships and to two or three consulting firms for internships. As I went through the process, and went to their sell days I realized that I fit in a lot more at these consulting firms. It seemed to be more what I wanted to do. It was more people interaction but also more problem solving. In industry it was a little more independent focused work, so I kind of took a leap of faith you could say and picked ZS for my internship after my junior year.
Q: What’s the best advice you can give to students going through the recruitment process?
A: One is to relax. I help out with recruiting a lot on the other side of things now at ZS and everyone is so frantic and stressed out about everything, but I think it’s important to take a step back. I know it’s hard to tell Northwestern students to do that, but I think they need to do it. My other piece of advice is that a lot of Northwestern students focus a lot on the case prep, they read Case and Point cover to cover, and focus solely on practicing that, but then they don’t really take enough time on the behavioral. A lot of people just start thinking about the behavioral the day before an interview, or just assume they’ll be able to wing it effectively day of, and I think at consulting firms fit means just as much as being able to ace the case.
Q: I see that you were an intern at ZS before you began working there full time. Could you speak to your experience as an intern and what differentiates ZS associates from other consulting companies in your mind?
A: As an intern, I was put immediately on to a client facing team doing real project work, which I hadn’t totally expected I thought that they would kind of wean me into it a little bit, because they did that I saw ZS as a place that I was stretched, and that I would be able to learn a lot, which is something I was really looking for. I wanted a place where I thought I could use the skills that I had developed at Northwestern, but also stretch myself and learn more. When I saw that instantly in the internship, that was something that appealed to me. What sold me really on ZS was the culture in general. Compared to other consulting firms, I think that we have a very collaborative culture, so it’s not weird for me to go up to another associate and ask them questions. It is also not frowned upon to raise my hand on a project team and say something like, I don’t understand where is this going? How does this fit into the overall project? That open communication really helps as far as my own development. ZS also just has a lot of fun people. I always equate them to being kind of like Northwestern students. We are all pretty smart, but we’re also pretty humble and a fun group of people to be around.