It was late March, and by this time of year, I had already gone through four failed stretch ideas. I was feeling stressed, fatigued, and burnt out. In addition to my stretch, March was also heavy recruiting season for business clubs. In the faculty of business, kids often get heavily invovled in student groups, to network, gain skills and learn. Although there were plenty of opportunities for me to pursue, I really didn’t want to join another student group.
To be frank, I was frustrated with the student group eco-system and the culture at large in ASOB. Most student groups were satisfied hosting a case competition and a bar event, and calling it a year. In addition, the culture at ASOB was extremely clique-y. Business students always hung out with business students, and there was little intermingling of faculties. After spending a year with the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, I quickly recognized the value of interdisciplinary learning, and I wanted to shift the status quo. While I’ve enjoyed doing cases, I wanted to gain more real world business experience that cases simply couldn’t provide. I knew that there was so much more value student run organizations could provide for both students, and the business community at large.
This brought my mind to the idea of student-consulting. As an international case competitor for the Alberta School of Business, I remember meeting students from other schools talk about student run consulting organizations at their respective institutions. From Queens on the east coast, to Simon Fraser on the west, student consulting was booming at these institutions.
Now to be fair, we do have some student consulting here at the University of Alberta. Level Up Consulting out of Enactus works with social enterprises that support individuals with disabilities, while the School of Retailing Consulting Group works primarily in the retail and real estate markets. While all of these groups do excellent work, and I applaud them greatly on their efforts, they’re limited in their scope.
Level Up targets a much smaller niche, while the School of Retailing is fantastic if you’re interested in retail or real estate, but not necessarily if you’re interested in other endeavours. In addition, the School of Retailing hires almost exclusively from the Faculty of Business. For students outside Business who wanted to gain experience consulting local businesses, there wasn’t anything out there.
In short, there was a gap in the market for interdisciplinary student consulting here at the University of Alberta, and I wanted to see if I could address it.
I begin to chat with my peers in the faculty and the PLLC who resoundingly agreed with me: an organization like this needed to exist. During my conversation with one senior peer, he recommended I chat with another business student, Chris Megraw. I ended up chatting with Chris the next day and quickly realized that he had been pursuing the same idea for the past three weeks. Chris called the idea the “Alberta Student Consulting Group”, an interdisciplinary student consulting non-profit that allowed students to consult for local businesses. When I asked why the consultants would be paid, he simply said ” I don’t want students having to choose between this and another part time job.” Chris mentioned that he had already brought two people onto the team, and he was looking to gather two more. After chatting with Chris for half an hour, I knew right away that I wanted to work with him.
Chris and I knew this would be a difficult endeavour, but we were both guided by a central mandate : our vision for the group. The Alberta Student Consulting Group wasn’t some short term gig for us, this was a legacy building project. We wanted to launch an student run organization at the University of Alberta that would outlive our respective tenures, and add value to the student and business community for decades to come.
And so, The Alberta Student Consulting Group was born.
Over the past few months, I have worked extensively on this idea, and I’m ready to start showing some of the fruits of my labour. Over the course of the next two weeks, I will be publishing more blog posts to talk more about my journey in creating this organization. I look forward to showcasing my work to all of my fellow peers very soon.