The concept of time
This is a touchy topic but Italians operate on their own standard time – personal and professorial instances. Being 15-20 minutes late is fairly common. Based on what I gathered, Milan in northern Italy, where I spent most of my time, is known for being generally “punctual,” as in, being 15-20 minutes late is acceptable, while that the degree of lateness increases as you travel southward.
Paying it forward: Bocconi, like most European schools, is a one-year program. Students do not have the luxury of second-year career mentors sharing their experiences. I realized I had the opportunity to share the wealth of consulting-specific knowledge I gained at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
This was my value proposition during their busiest term that served two purposes:
1. Time spent with the students helps me get to know them.
2. Sharing knowledge is the UNC Kenan-Flagler way of paying it forward.
I was extremely fortunate to receive rigorous training in consulting recruiting’s best practices at UNC Kenan-Flagler. In early January, I reached out to Bocconi’s consulting club president, Steffen Schlicht, to examine ways I could help. We teamed up to organize a “crack the case” crash course where folks gained insights into consulting interview prep. What followed was an unexpected and a remarkable turn of events. By the time the term ended, I had the incredible privilege to spend some 60+ hours with some of Bocconi’s best students helping them refine their résumé walks, casing prep, STAR stories and general interview preparation. I remember the advice from our professor Dr. Chris Bingham: Change can be small and incremental, but these small steps will ultimately have an impact. What an impact it had – these brilliant folks, some of whom have become really close friends went on to get multiple internship offers at Strategy&, A.T. Kearney, Roland Berger, Alvarez and Marsal, Bain and Company, Alix Partners, The Boston Consulting Group and Facebook, to name a few.
I have always believed travel to be therapeutic to the soul. My time at Bocconi was transformational in many ways. Bocconi and Italy truly felt like home as I accumulated a treasure trove of joyful memories, an enhanced clarity on myself as an individual. I hope my experiences would encourage folks to travel, explore, expand worldviews, shed parochial inhibitions, and interact with a multitude of cultures.
My experiences, the incredible people and my wonderful Bocconi friends taught me a few things about the importance of slowing down, not everything needs to happen on schedule and according to plan; that it’s ok to be a little late (at times), and enjoying some of the finer aspects of life (food, wine, gelato and, of course, coffee).
Perhaps the most important aspect that was reinforced while I was here was the human element. Despite numerous superficial differences in cultures, languages, customs, nationalities, experiences, ethnicities, we have more in common that unites us. To quote the words of Margaret Atwood and echo the words of our wise Italian Professor Scarponi – “I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one race – the human race – and that we are all members of it.” That is all that matters at the end of the day.
By Gowtam Atthipalli (MBA ’18)