Written by Ashley Castillo – iX Consulting ’16, UPenn ’18
Walking around campus, I take in all of the activities buzzing around me. It’s a different day at iX today – there seem to be no excel spreadsheets to clean up and color code, and no slide decks to perfectly balance the text-to-icon ratio.
Instead, today we’re taking a look at what other students do in their classes with an event called iXtravaganza. I decided to take the event on as the rising consultant that I am – analyzing all the courses’ content, checking my assumptions, and making various key observations and conclusions.
Observation 1: Holy Tech! As someone taking one of the more business-heavy classes offered by iX, the workshops for the other classes told a very different story. I walked into the the coding session for people with no previous experience coding only to have one of my assumptions be automatically disproved. Turns out engineers don’t just sit on their computers all day staring at black screens putting unidentifiable strings of words together. There’s more to it, and it actually made a bit of sense to me! For one, coding uses math and basic logic. To use one of the Web Dev TAs’ words – it’s like you’re talking to the computer and telling it what to do so that it can talk back to you. Despite being a bit frustrated at how tricky it was and trying to remember all the commands, it actually seemed fun. More importantly, it definitely made me realize how crucial it is to have those skills and inspired me to try to take an intro class to coding back at UPenn. As someone who wants to go into entrepreneurship, even if I am on the business side of things, my future business is bound to involve tech and I want to understand enough about it to have an intelligent conversation.
Observation 2: Customers are people too. As consultants, your client is always a company. You work to come up with recommendations that will decrease their costs and increase their revenues so that they can ultimately increase their profits – the essence of business. However, you rarely think about what is most important to the consumer because you’re mostly thinking of them as means to the end of what’s best for the company. UX Design turned this idea on its head. As the UX lecturer and TA told us to interview our partners and empathize with them, I couldn’t help but feel so out of place because it wasn’t a lens I was used to looking through. But once I started talking to my partners about how to make the nametag better, it all made so much sense! Who would you go to to understand how to make a product or service better than the users themselves. It was a refreshing view and something that I definitely want to take into consideration as I continue with consulting and also as I pursue my own entrepreneurial dreams.
Conclusion: The business world, but even more broadly, the working world our generation is going into is extremely interconnected and tech driven. We might think we’re going into a certain industry right now and only need a certain set of skills, but that can’t be further from the truth. We don’t know where we might end up in the future or what kind of people and problems we will be working with. The iXtravaganza introduced me to this idea and inspired me to seek learning even in areas I may feel are out of my comfort. But even more importantly, to always be curious about what my peers are doing and be open to being pleasantly surprised at what I may find interest in.