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From Pokémon Trader To BAE Consultant: Georgetown MBA Hopes To Launch a Consulting Career!

Eric Yang's first business venture was Pokémon trading as a kid. He made hundreds of dollars, but hopes to make much more as a consultant after studying a full-time MBA from Georgetown!

By  Seb Murray

Fri Sep 27 2013

Eric Yang always had an eye for business opportunities. Even at middle-school in the United States, the would-be Georgetown MBA made his pocket money by selling Pokémon cards to classmates. While most children fantasized about being an astronaut or a secret agent, Eric was making “hundreds” of dollars from the popular trading-card game.

Eric used his intelligence to sell study guides similar to SparkNotes – an idea first started by Harvard Students in the nineties. SparkNotes.com was sold for over $3.5 million, and while Eric obviously didn’t achieve quite as much revenue, for a kid he was making “quite a bit of money”.

Eric’s entrepreneurial initiative drew him to Babson College in 2005, where he studied a Bachelor of Science in entrepreneurship. At the time, he had wanted to establish his own business, but studying on the full-time MBA program at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business is Eric’s tool to branch out into the consulting industry.

MBA Jobs in consulting are one of the most popular choices for b-school graduates, and Eric will hope to bank a return on his investment into the Georgetown MBA by claiming a slice of up to $75,000 that undergraduates can expect to earn at the world’s top consulting firms. For an MBA graduate, salaries at Accenture, Bain & Company and McKinsey can jump to a staggering $135,000. At Accenture, that wage includes a signing-bonus of up to $35,000 and a performance bonus of up to $43,500

Eric had to “personally finance” his business education and, although receiving a little help from his parents, it wasn’t easy. “It was not easy working twenty-plus hours through the school year,” he said. “But it taught me the value of time management, and how to turn the finance issues into an opportunity to really help develop business skill-sets.”

Many students take remedial jobs to help see them through undergraduate degrees, but Eric did not want to waste time pouring coffees at Starbucks. “I made a very conscious attempt to seek employment that may not have paid as much as others, but really developed that business skillset,” he said. “I was even a telemarketer for a while, to develop my sales skills.”

His motivation to seek business experience landed him a job with Interparts Industries on a leadership training program. Within a year after joining the company, he was promoted to an Internal Consultant. He worked hard during his employment with the automotive manufacturer and tackled a variety of problems with the company’s axel development.

Eric says that he spent an entire year prepping for case interviews, in the hope of a career opportunity in external consulting. He finally got his shot with Interparts Industries and nailed an interview with the company’s president. “I actually enjoy case interviews,” he said. “A lot of people don’t enjoy them, but I see it as a puzzle.”

Although working as a successful consultant within the automotive industry for two years, Eric decided to ditch his job with Interparts and study an MBA. It was always part of his plan to go to business school, and after three years in the automotive consulting world, he knew it was time to further his education and, in turn, further his career. “During the MBA I’ve developed analytical skills, but I’ve really tried to focus on the soft, people-based skills,” he said.

“I think as an aspiring leader, having the people skills, understanding how to motivate people, and how to talk confidently, will be skills that are critical to my success.”

Georgetown is one of the top b-schools in the US and global MBA Rankings show that it is currently ranked 30th in the world by BusinessWeek. Eric admits he had a problem choosing which school to study at, after getting into MBA programs at NYU Stern, Boston College and Rutgers Business School. But he turned them all down and began studying at Georgetown in Washington last year. “It has a diverse student body and a great location in the capital of US,” he said. “But the real reason I chooe Georgetown was because of the people I met when I visited the school.

“In my experience, the people you interact with will have a huge impact on your quality of life, and that’s why I chose Georgetown.”

Eric has just completed a summer internship with BAE Systems - the British multinational defence, security and aerospace company – focusing on business analytics and process improvement. He says he got a lot of support from the careers centre at Georgetown; which helped him with interviews, perfecting a cover-letter, crafting a CV and networking. “I know some of the careers team personally and they were a great help,” he adds.

The Georgetown MBA says that the most valuable lesson he learnt on the internship was listening to others. “I had approached it through the eyes of an internal consultant so the most valuable lesson is the value of listening in humility,” he said. “MBA grads sometimes have a reputation of being arrogant and not valuing the knowledge of the employees when consulting

“It’s important to remember that these people have been doing this job for years in some cases and have an understanding that you can never get;  so listening and taking stock of their opinions is helpful.”

Eric wants to be a consultant when he graduates in 2014 and is attracted by the opportunity to work on many different projects for short periods of time. “I will not be stuck in one role for too long,” he added. “And also the travel attracts me; I’m one of the younger members of my MBA class, and I want to live out of a suitcase a little bit.”

There’s no doubt that he’ll get the chance to do just that with a career in consulting. And thanks to studying an MBA at Geogetown, Eric already has one foot on the career ladder. It will be a world away from trading Pokémon cards.