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Real Humans of BCG: Shane Polzin, Chicago Booth MBA ’23, Consultant

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Many veterans find that an MBA program is an effective way to transition from military service to a civilian career. For Naval Flight Officer Shane Polzin, Chicago Booth promised veteran support, a proven track record of job placement in the consulting industry, and the right location. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Polzin tells us how the Chicago Booth MBA helped him reach outside his comfort zone, develop superior problem solving skills, and prepared him to join Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Shane Polzin, Chicago Booth MBA ’23, Consultant at BCG

Age: 33
Hometown: Rhinelander, WI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Wisconsin – Madison, History & Scandinavian Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Naval Flight Officer, United States Navy, 9 years, Military
Post-MBA Work Experience: Consultant, Boston Consulting Group, <1, Management Consulting

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I was looking to transition from the Navy to a career in the private sector but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do or how I wanted to get there. I knew I wanted to add a deeper quantitative acumen and greater analytical rigor to the leadership experience I gained during my time in the Navy. As I was evaluating my future, a close friend and colleague in the Navy was navigating his own MBA journey. His insights into the admissions cycle, recruiting process, and academic and extracurricular experiences gave me the knowledge and confidence to know that the MBA was the best path for me to meet my professional goals.

Why Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Booth’s support for veterans was a huge differentiator that put it at the top of my list. Thanks to the unparalleled financial support for veterans due to the generous support from Alumnus Eric Gleacher, the Harper Family Foundation, and the school’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a huge portion of the financial burden of business school was lifted, enabling more veterans the opportunity to succeed. Additionally, the Armed Forces Group at Booth does a great job of building community, supporting recruiting, and fostering mentorship for veterans of all nations’ militaries.

Additionally, at the end of the day, I went to business school to get my first role in the private sector. Booth’s track record in post-MBA job placement, particularly in consulting, was a huge motivation to apply and attend. 

Last but far from least, being originally from Wisconsin, it was great to be closer to family for a couple years after 10-years of traveling the world in the Navy. The ability to see my family more often than once or twice a year was truly special. 

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career at BCG?
Understanding how to approach problem-solving in a more structured and analytically driven method has been key during my time at BCG, and much of it came via Booth’s steadfast commitment to the Chicago Approach. Technically, the Chicago Approach is Booth’s educational philosophy of a multidisciplinary approach to business education. For me, it was the challenge to try something new and the flexibility to make it work on my schedule. I took classes both in and well outside my comfort zone (from Interpersonal Dynamics and Health Care Business Analytics to the Science of Elections and Campaigns at the Harris School of Public Policy) that helped me to define problems, ask better questions, and develop better solutions. 

More directly applicable to the preparation for consulting, career support through Booth’s Management Consulting Group (MCG), the Armed Forces Group (AFG), and the Career Service office were paramount to preparing me for consulting recruiting and built an expectation for the daily ins and outs of the job itself.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice of BCG? 
I was a Summer Consultant in BCG’s San Francisco office in the Principal Investors and Private Equity (PIPE) practice conducting buy-side commercial due diligence of multiple companies. This experience gave me first-hand experience understanding how PE firms evaluate companies and how BCG can act as a trusted partner in the decision process using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods. I learned a ton and was excited to sign my offer to return to BCG full-time following graduation. I also got to work with a great group of fellow summer interns, building a strong support network that I still rely on today.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
In typical consultant fashion, my decision to work at BCG was based largely on three things:

Generalist consulting – I wanted to gain experience across multiple practice and functional areas and BCG actively encourages consultants to do exactly this. BCG has expertise in nearly every sector, offering a bottomless opportunity to learn.

Affinity networks – Support networks are extremely important to building inclusive and supportive communities. As a member of Vets@BCG, Families@BCG, and Lift@BCG (first-generation college students or those who grew up in low-socioeconomic status households), it’s nice to have regular event programming to build support networks, promote mentorship, and sometimes just complain about the perils of finding childcare in the Bay Area over lunch.

People – The people I met during recruiting and worked with during the summer internship were incredibly intelligent and driven, and all brought the strengths of their unique backgrounds and experiences to work every day. Consulting is a demanding job, but it’s much more manageable and rewarding when you are surrounded by great people.

Advice to current MBA students:
One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Dedicating time in the summer before you start for introspection. Most recruiting begins early; if you can show up knowing what’s really important to you and why (e.g., what industry you want to work in, what region/city you want to live in), you can network more effectively and get your name on employers’ radars earlier.

One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
Don’t be afraid to ask companies for very specific network connections. I talked to a lot of veterans during my recruiting efforts, but talked to fewer parents, and specifically consultants that had kids early in their career. 

Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
How closely people are invested in supporting you during recruiting journey. This support was made evident by seeing how many people reached out during the networking phase, how many offered to give mock cases prior to interviews, and how many followed up to congratulate me after I received an offer.

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Recruiting starts early and is intense, but don’t forget to invest time early on getting to know your classmates. Go on the pre-MBA trip (Random Walk for Booth), go to a few happy hours, join a club that does something totally different from you’ve done in your background, take Interpersonal Dynamics. Your classmates are the one of your biggest resources during (and after) your MBA, and the connections you make will last longer than your memory of how to step up a cost basis using a 338(h)(10) election (sorry, Professor Erickson).

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.