Interview with Jillian Wang

What did you like most about being a PPE major?

I liked the flexibility that it afforded me. I was able to really explore and try out new things in a risk-free zone because I could decide a year or two in where I wanted to focus. I also enjoyed the training that it gave in how to think.

How did you frame PPE in a professional way while pursuing jobs?

I was mainly looking at consulting for full time. I focused in Choice and Behavior and minored in Consumer Psychology. A lot of my classes had to do with why people buy the things they do and how to market things well. I’ve always been interested in retail and I pursued retail for my summer internship at BCG and framed all the classes as being able to help me think through why people buy. For my full time job I didn’t want to feel boxed in so I decided to go into consulting. It was actually very easy to frame up that conversation when it came to interviews for the same reason, especially because I was going to focus on retail firms. Additionally I think PPEis a really good school in critical thinking and consulting is one good outlet to be able to think through problems very strategically and logically.

 What came first? The Choice and Behavior concentration or the Consumer Psych minor?

That’s a good question, I’m not exactly sure. I always knew I was interested in psychology and that sort of thing. I also think I always knew I wanted to do an interschool minor with Wharton and be able to take classes there, so actually I think that the minor helped influence my concentration choice.

 Is there something you did as a PPE major at Penn that you feel directly connected to your work at Boston Consulting Group?

 I think something that was surprising to me that I probably wouldn’t have anticipated is that a lot of the behavioral psychology stuff helps you think about how to deal with people. That psychological stuff still comes up when I have to convince clients at buy-in or get people on my side. I’m currently at Columbia Business School and in one of my leadership classes a lot of the content of that directly stems from behavioral economics so I think it really helps with that as well.

How did you end up deciding to go back to school for your MBA?

I actually wanted to be a lawyer when I first started school and my interests sort of shifted midway through I guess when I realized I like thinking, I don’t want to say outside the box, but just not within boxes, which law sort of sets you up to do. I wanted to be able to exercise my creative side, well as creative as you can get as a consultant, so that’s when I sort of shifted to wanting to do business. BCG is a large influence on why I wanted to do business school. A lot of people who I respect went to business school. I didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to take time and explore and continue to learn in different capacities because I didn’t really take finance or accounting or any of that stuff when I was an undergrad.

What are you imagining your short-term career trajectory to look like post-Columbia?

I think I’m probably going to return to BCG. In the end it’s a really great exercise in ensuring that BCG is where I want to be at least in the near-term. Business school is just a really good outlet to try different things and explore and in the long-term figure out what I really value and what I really want to do.

Do you feel like your curriculum and coursework as a PPE major set you up well for business school?

 I think it is a good background because it does give you a foundation in economics and how to debate and think through problems logically, so I would say it helps. I think a lot of the help that I got has been through consulting, but again PPE and Penn helped set me up for success there, as well.

What do you wish you knew as an undergrad at Penn?

 Something I wish I knew was to not freak out about an immediate job. It is really important, but I think it’s also really important to appreciate the moments you have at Penn and the ability to learn in a very open environment. So just really cherish the time that you have there, don’t freak out and stress out so much and things will be okay as long as you try your hardest.