Written by Cameron Cross – iXperience '14 (Web Development), Head TA at iXperience '16, University of Virginia '16
At the end of my iXperience, I wrote a blog post called Rollercoaster to Revelation to recap the best 8 weeks of my life and all that I had learned about myself along the way. The big realization for me while writing that blog post on break at my software development internship in Cape Town was that programming was the wrong career choice for me — a bittersweet realization. As my classmates from iX 2014 started getting job offers from Microsoft, Facebook, and other world class tech firms, I wondered how my summer experiences would translate into professional opportunities outside of the software industry. I got my answer a couple days later.
Just a few weeks ago I accepted an internship offer from my dream firm, Bain & Company, and have since realized that I owe much of this success to iXperience.
Many people have asked me, how is it true that spending a whole summer learning to code would help to launch a career in consulting? I have since realized the answer: The magic of iXperience is so powerful that it could create successful developers, consultants, bankers, or even astronauts if that’s who its students wanted to be. While the academic rigor of iX is unparalleled in intensity and value, I credit the people, the culture, and the lifestyle of the program as its greatest assets.
Reflecting on my recent interview experiences, I can point to 3 major reasons that iX is beneficial to aspiring young professionals of almost any career:
You have the chance to learn and live a remarkably productive and healthy lifestyle
You will craft uniquely interesting and memorable stories for interviews
You will learn from brilliant and talented students, lecturers, and staff
Learning what it really means to “work hard, play hard”
Full disclosure to future applicants: I worked harder in my iXperience class than I have in any college class. The lectures, exercises, and projects are very demanding and truly push you to be your best. A second disclosure: I have never had more fun or gone on as many life adventures as I did at iX. A typical day would feature hikes, surfing, soccer, diving, and a million other incredible activities. The only way it is possible to accomplish so much in a single day is to learn to be incredibly time efficient and motivated to succeed. The packed social calendar and academic demands of an iX student will teach him/her a work ethic that will prove very advantageous in balancing a happy and healthy lifestyle with a busy internship or job.
Relying on iXperience time and again in job interviews
The application process for consulting is draining and competitive. The process centers around business problems given in “case interviews”, but an equally important section deals with behavioral questions. The most successful applicants are highly self-aware, able to draw on life experiences that illustrate insightful truths about their personalities and work habits. I found myself answering the majority of my behavioral questions by relating them to my time in Cape Town. For example, I was often asked how I would handle being thrust into a foreign work environment in a new city, new office, and new industry. The easy answer: I spent my summer learning to code in Africa… it doesn’t get more foreign than that, and I now feel as if I can do anything. A second advantage I saw was in being unique. It’s important to stand out and be memorable in some way — telling stories about riding ostriches and diving with sharks is certainly a good way to do so.
Dreaming big with the most brilliant, inspiring people I have ever met
The most long-lasting benefit of iX will be the connections I made with students, teachers, and staff. The value of learning and growing with such driven and talented peers is immense, and I continue to be amazed by the incredible things my classmates are already accomplishing. I am very confident that many of us will cross paths again after graduation, and I will cherish those friendships for life. Then we have the iX staff, the biggest asset to the program of all. I grew very close this past summer with each and every one of the brilliant people who created this amazing international business school, and learned a great deal from all of them. Most notably, I credit the mentorship of Aaron Fuchs, iX CEO, for much of where I am today. Aaron is amazingly passionate about his students’ success and has been an invaluable resource for me at iX and beyond. From resume reviews and career guidance to general life advice, his eagerness to help mold each iX class into future business leaders is inspiring.
Last summer created amazing opportunities for me and I can’t wait to get started with Bain. Similarly, iX and its' students have very bright futures ahead. To the incoming class of iXers: you are in very good hands. Enjoy the ride.