Elliott School senior David Perron transitioned from foreign policy to business consulting, will start working at Ernst & Young in the fall.
By Briahnna Brown
For most of his life, David Perron has had an adventurous spirit.
Raised in Woodbridge, Va., Mr. Perron, who studies in the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school, where he got to travel around the world. He wanted to follow in his father’s military footsteps, he said, and in the process, he developed an interest in international affairs and foreign policy.
He went to Northern Virginia Community College after his time in the Marines, and he transferred to GW in fall 2017 with plans to work in international affairs. But that all changed once he started taking international business and economics courses, and he realized he was much more interested in how businesses and markets work than public policy issues.
In making this switch, he reached out to the Center for Career Services for guidance and met with career coach Julianna Hutchins, who focuses on helping GW students with business, finance and consulting careers. He also got some help from Marva Gumbs Jennings, who works with the military and veteran GW students among other specialized career services initiatives.
Last fall, he found out about a consulting position with Ernst & Young through Handshake, a university resource that helps students find job and internship postings. While studying abroad in Paris, Mr. Perron applied through Handshake and the company’s website as well.
Studying abroad made the month-long interview preparation process more difficult, but Mr. Perron utilized resources in Handshake so he could be ready. He intensely researched Ernst & Young and practiced traditional interview questions, but the more difficult part of his preparation was looking through case studies and finding creative solutions to complex problems.
“I just spent like every night looking at different cases and working through them and trying to learn it that way," Mr. Perron said. “Really the only way you can get good at that is if you just keep doing practice cases—no one's good when they start, it takes a while."
Still in Paris, Mr. Perron underwent a series of interviews via Skype. The first round of interviews was a recorded response to five questions, and the second round consisted of three one-on-one interviews with managers and senior consultants at Ernst & Young. One of his interviews involved walking through a case and finding a solution to a complex problem, and Mr. Perron said his time practicing helped him be prepared, but after the interview he was still nervous about his performance.
"You never know what case you're going to get, and I don't know if anyone who goes through a case study interview feels too good because there's so much uncertainty, and that's kind of part of it," Mr. Perron said.
He heard back from Ernst & Young a couple of weeks later (even though it felt like a month, he said), and Mr. Perron accepted the job offer. In October, he will be doing program management consulting work under the performance improvement practice in Ernst & Young’s U.S. Government & Public Sector practice. And he couldn’t be more excited.
"I'm sure there's going to be a lot expected of me, and I just want to be able to be a top performer,” Mr. Perron said.
His biggest advice for students is to take as much time preparing for an interview as possible, be ready to answer questions about failures and shortcomings and practice problem solving methods to find new approaches to a problem. Mr. Perron also encouraged those who are job hunting to push past any issues with low self-esteem and reach for their goals no matter what.
"I'm no different. I have those problems too, like when I applied for this and when I did the interviews, at the end I still felt that low self-esteem and self-doubt,” Mr. Perron said. “But I think regardless of that, just keep trying anyways, and I think people will be surprised at what they can do."