This summer season, we hired five interns to work with us across various operating groups in our company. They are gaining experience in everything from business consulting to marketing and providing us with valuable contributions to our teams.
We talked to Blaiden Kirk, Cameron Hall, Diego Arenas, Novia Li and Rasul Rahman about what drew them to Centric Consulting, how they’re enjoying their internship and their short- and long-term career goals.
What brought you to Centric Consulting? What was it about this company that drew you in?
Blaiden: I was first introduced through Inroads and was initially attracted by the mere idea of working with people that cared so much about their craft. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get more experience and really hone my skills. Along with that, however, Centric’s dedication to a strong team culture also made it an appealing environment!
Rasul: I was first introduced to Centric through Inroads, a nationwide program to introduce people of color to professional roles. At first, I was attracted by the mere idea of working with a successful consulting firm, which I thought would be a great opportunity to get more experience in my field. During my interviewing and onboarding process, however, one thing immediately stood out to me: the culture. Centric’s culture has been a key part of why I was drawn in and why I have enjoyed working with them so much thus far.
Cameron: I first heard about Centric from the Ohio Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program: an initiative to give minority students an opportunity to receive an internship. During my interview process, I heard a lot about Centric’s great company culture. I have a strong desire to work for a company that creates an inclusive and positive culture, which really drew me towards this company.
Tell us about your work experience, if any, prior to coming to Centric. If you don’t have any work experience, tell us about your extracurricular activities outside of school.
Rasul: This internship would be my first internship/work experience. Some of the extracurricular activities I participate in are ALAS (Alliance of Latin American Students), where on campus we unite those of different Latin American backgrounds and other students to come together as a community to appreciate each other cultures. I also participate in FACT, which is a community that brings together those who are adopted or came from the foster care system, and we have conversations about our experiences and bring in others who were affected by it as well.
Novia: Prior to coming to Centric, I was a Business and Economic Development Intern at She Grows It Consulting Group. There I was compiling data to create a list of businesses for investors to better access the market within Africa. On campus, I’m also involved with The Women’s Network, where I served as the VP of Finance along with PERIOD Leading the Menstrual Movement, where I serve as the Vice Service Chair.
Diego: Before coming to Centric, I interned with Manush Labs, an MIT-based social impact accelerator. They help support start-ups and entrepreneurs that aim to improve impoverished areas. There I worked on outreach towards investors and partners, researching various initiatives and programs and worked directly under the founder and CEO. Asides from that, I have held roles as Treasurer of my fraternity and of SHPE-MIT.
What have you learned in the last year, following the pandemic and taking classes from home?
Blaiden: The biggest thing I had to learn was how to manage my schedule and break up time, so I can maximize my productivity. It is easy to lose track of time when you do everything from home or virtually. However, a proper schedule that blocks time for everything allows for structure and discipline.
Diego: I’ve had to learn how to manage my self-discipline and attend zoom lectures. It is easy to sleep in or say you’ll watch a recording later, but there is something fundamentally intrinsic in a schooling experience that is left out by being behind a screen. Furthermore, not being in person has made it harder to collaborate and learn from my peers, so I have had to get used to using technology and online platforms to communicate. At the end of all this, I think I will have become a more organized and motivated student and person.
Cameron: Taking classes at home over the last year has been a unique challenge. One of the most important things I have learned is how to eliminate distractions to improve productivity. It’s very tempting to turn your camera off and “attend” class in bed while you watch YouTube but doing this frequently will prevent you from actually learning any material. One practice that helps me focus is to dress up every once in a while. Even if that means just wearing a pair of jeans instead of sweatpants, I’ve found that it helps me become more productive throughout my day at home.
Has any of it changed how you think of your future career, and if so, how?
Diego: I think the pandemic experience has given me a greater appreciation for technology and the flexibility that comes with the Consulting industry. I haven’t had much of a goal in terms of my career before, but now I am more motivated to pursue this area as a very possible career choice.
Novia: Yes, the pandemic has led me to rethink a lot of my ideals and career-wise. Prior to the pandemic, I had an interest in finance. However, during my second year, I realized how specialized the field is, which was not something I wanted to do long term. Therefore, after some research, I discovered consulting. I became very drawn to constantly learning about different industries and fields.
Rasul: The pandemic hasn’t changed my outlook on my future career because of the ever-changing technology and flexibility that not only consulting has but most industries have when it comes to businesses and their clients.
Cameron: The pandemic has given me a new perspective on choosing a future career path. I want to ensure that my future career has some level of security in case of a catastrophic event like the pandemic. While it’s difficult to be fully prepared for unexpected events, I want my future career to have some sort of security. Working for a company that is prepared for a hybrid workspace is a great example of security I desire.
How does your current role fit into your desired career path?
Novia: I’m currently an intern on an insurance consulting project. I hope to pursue consulting as a career after graduation. Therefore, getting exposure to team consulting meetings and seeing presentations of the project timeline is great for me. As of now, I am not sure about the specific type of consulting I want to pursue, but I know I appreciate being exposed to new industries and always being able to learn new things.
Blaiden: As someone who enjoys computing and software development, RPA is right up my alley! I have always seen myself in a role where I can use software to solve common problems, and that is exactly what I get to do now.
What about your new role surprises you, so far?
Blaiden: Usually, when working with new pieces of software, there is always a learning curve, but I am quite surprised just how intensive automation software can be for how new it is.
Diego: It has given me more insight into the realities of data analytics and collaboration. There have been more meetings and discussions than I expected. Ideally, I would have imagined there would not need to be so much effort spent on planning and moving forward, but now I see that these steps are imperative in a collaborative workspace.
Cameron: The biggest surprise I’ve experienced with my role is the responsibility I have received. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t get to perform much work for Centric, but I have been delightfully surprised. I get the privilege of working on many different projects, which has allowed me to share and improve my skillset with the team.
What is your favorite part about working for Centric so far?
Rasul: My favorite part about working in Centric so far is meeting all types of people that work in the company and learning what they bring and do for the company. I also love the culture here. It’s vibrant, inclusive and, overall, a very helpful culture to be around and experience.
Novia: My favorite thing about working at Centric must be the people. So far, everyone I had met is extremely nice and welcoming. I love talking to new people on calls and learning new things about everyone.
Diego: I think the culture has been my favorite part. I’ve heard that consulting is not for the faint of heart, but Centric really doesn’t fit the bill. Everyone here has been welcoming, kind and has made my experience as smooth as possible.
Blaiden: By far, the people have been the best part about being a part of Centric! I know that it can be cliché to mention culture, but everyone is very eager to connect and get to know each other on a personal level. It makes the work environment much less stressful and makes every interaction feel genuine and safe.
What is your advice to those looking for internships in your field?
Blaiden: I think a lot of people look for internships with the intention of making money (which is still important, of course), but I think it is crucial to have experience and strong connections in mind as well.
Rasul: My advice to those searching for internships in the consulting field is to start small first. Research companies, and get to know what their work culture is like and see if you really want to not only intern there but potentially work there. Also, persistence is key. If you get turned down, don’t let that sway you from applying to other internships you find as well because the consulting world can be difficult, but not impossible, to navigate.
Diego: I’ve spent hours and hours filling out applications to random companies. All because I waited too long to look for a position. It truly is easier the sooner you apply, and the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll have summer plans. In fact, I’d say the summer is a good time to start looking, as many companies post info sessions, if not applications for positions.
Novia: I believe networking is extremely important. Always try to meet new people within your field of interest. Talking to new people is always fun since you get to learn more about an individual. Networking can also provide you a chance to learn new things. And sometimes, your new network could bring you an opportunity you never see coming.
What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?
Novia: Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that owning a cat in the future has always been something I have really wanted to do. However, many people also don’t know that I’m actually quite allergic to them. But even so, I’m still pretty set on getting one.
Diego: Coming from California, I was always a 10-minute drive from the sunny shores and warm waters of San Diego beaches. Despite countless efforts to learn to, however, I still can’t swim to save my life. Better yet, my school has a ‘swim test’ requirement to graduate, so we’ll see how that goes.
Cameron: Something people don’t know about me is that I have a black belt in karate. It took about six years for me to achieve!
Rasul: One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have ADHD. There are a lot of stereotypes of those who have ADHD, but there are also variants within the realm of ADHD. I have the inattentive type, which means exactly what it says. I have trouble paying attention to details, am easily distracted, often have trouble organizing or finishing tasks and often forget routine chores (such as paying bills on time or returning phone calls). I take medication and go to therapy for it, and it impacts my life hugely, but I don’t let it keep me down. I fight every day to not let it impact my life severely and show people that people with this mental illness can function in our daily lives just fine.
Blaiden: In the summer prior to my freshman year of college, I competed at the national level in the 400 hurdles, where I ran 58 seconds in Sacramento, California! I was training to walk-on at Miami to run the 400 hurdles, but they wanted a 56 in that race, so I was ultimately a little shy of that mark. However, it was a great experience regardless.