Collin got his dream job in healthcare consulting…entirely through networking!

The story we have to share with you today is a pretty cool one.  Not only did we get to have the opportunity to meet this pretty amazing guy, Collin, but it all happened after he had secured a healthcare consulting offer – and we didn’t have anything to do with it (well, not directly anyhow).

This was his email intro to us:

“I’ve been a reader of this website for a while now. I’ve always appreciated what it had to offer, especially the ‘Life as a Consultant’ series. I always told myself that if I landed the consulting job that I wanted, I would reach out and provide information for other consulting hopefuls. I recently graduated and got my number one career and company choice as a healthcare consultant with a consulting firm that is owned by a large healthcare system. If you are still doing the ‘Life as a Consultant’ series, I would love to provide an interview about the process involved with getting recruited and hired.”

Needless to say, we love hearing success stories, so we took Collin up on his offer – and the story that follows is the result.

1) For the benefit of readers, can you give us a summary of your background?  Where you’re from originally, education, extracurriculars, previous internships/jobs, interests, etc.

My name is Collin. I’m an Idaho native and recent graduate from Gonzaga University with my BBA in Finance.

I will soon be starting my career as a revenue cycle consultant for MultiCare Health System, which is a not-for-profit health system based out of Tacoma, WA. I will be starting out as a Consulting Services Analyst, where I will be providing financial modeling and strategic ideas to hospital executives around the country.

During my time in college, I was involved with student government, College Republicans, Students for Liberty, and I worked with the athletic department to help run the student section. During my senior year I interned at a local, privately owned OB-GYN clinic as an assistant administrator. While at this internship, I gained valuable experience working with the healthcare revenue cycle as well as a better understanding of how a health center is run.

I am a scratch golfer, avid basketball player, and sports watcher. I love politics and watching the news, and I enjoy traveling and good food/drinks.

2) In 5th grade, you probably didn’t say that you wanted to be a healthcare consultant, but you said it was your dream job now.  How did you come to that realization?

I’m pretty sure that my dream job in the 5th grade was to play in the NBA, so I definitely had no aspirations of being a healthcare consultant. However, as a senior in high school, I realized that I wanted to study something that would lead to a career in a growing industry with good job security.

I remember reading an article about how experts were expecting to eventually see a shortage of doctors, and about how the healthcare industry was very lucrative. I often think of healthcare as the only industry that is relatively close to being recession proof. Regardless of how bad the economy is, people will still get sick or injured.

Realizing this, I then knew that I wanted to work in healthcare; however, the only way that I really knew how to do that was to be a doctor. I originally studied biology with the intentions of going to med school, but I soon realized that I was more interested in working in healthcare than I was being a doctor (a healthcare provider).

After 2 years of studying biology, I spoke with my dad about everything and he brought up the business aspect of healthcare. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that either administration or consulting was what I really wanted to do. I switched majors to business/finance and began to love what I was studying. That’s when I knew that I was going into the right industry/profession.

I have also always liked the idea of being a consultant. I love to travel, and I have always been a workaholic, so the long hours spent on the road are actually something that attracted me to being a consultant. I also enjoy the customer aspect of consulting.  I love numbers, but many finance positions are nothing more than that, and I wanted to be able to work with people too.

How many of you, I wonder, also wanted to be a doctor at some point in your career evolution?  I (Jenny Rae), for one, definitely did.  I’m SO glad I had the same realization that Collin did – I like problem solving, math, and working with people, but being a doctor is only one choice in the road.

3) What key steps did you take to get the interview invite – from nuances of your application to any networking you did?

Getting my job was done entirely through networking.

Gonzaga has a great program called GAMP, which stands for the Gonzaga Alumni Mentorship Program. Through this program, I got in contact with a healthcare consultant who had tons of connections and industry experience. I met with him in an attempt to get any advice I could, and he told me he would send out my resume to some people he knew.

I got my internship this way.  My mentor also told me to look through his LinkedIn contacts and contact any of them while using him as a reference. The first contact of his that I saw happened to be an executive at MultiCare. I contacted him, told him about myself and what I wanted to do, and eventually interviews were set up.

How amazing is that?  Getting carte blanche access to a mentor’s LinkedIn account?  Sign me up, right?

4) Every firm’s hiring process is different – and there are specific differences for healthcare consulting.  Can you tell us the insider’s view of the interview process in the healthcare consulting field and at your firm in particular? 

The main difference between healthcare consulting and something like management or tech consulting is that the healthcare industry is harder to get into at the undergraduate level because there is usually an experience requirement.

As a business student, management and information systems classes are part of almost every core curriculum. This allows for many consulting companies to hire recent graduates because they can then build upon the skills that one learns while in business school.

Healthcare is different because, unless you are majoring in healthcare management, most students never have any introduction into the industry. I doubt that I would have ever gotten the job, let alone an interview, had I not taken the unpaid internship in administration at the OB-GYN office.

Because experience is often required, one of the benefits of going into an industry such as healthcare is that there is not quite as much competition as in management consulting, especially for recent graduates. My interview process was fairly streamlined. I had 3 interviews, all of which were over the phone because I was in school.

First, I was contacted by one of the managing partners for an initial interview, which lasted around 45 minutes. I followed up with an email afterwards to which he responded by setting up another interview, this time with a current consultant. This interview lasted a little over an hour and was more in depth in terms of my experience and also some problem solving questions. I was then scheduled for another interview with a manager which lasted about an hour and focused on behavioral traits and personality questions. Two weeks after my third interview, I was contacted to set up a time for a phone call for a formal job offer. Of all the companies I interviewed with, this one was definitely the most streamlined and straightforward.

5) What were some of your other choices, and why did you decide to join MultiCare?

I initially never thought that I would be able to get started working in healthcare right out of my undergrad. I always planned to work in finance for a few years, get my MBA, and then start trying to work my way into healthcare as a financial analyst at a hospital.

I interviewed with companies like US Bank and Boeing for positions in business planning, credit analysis, financial analysis, etc. The worst part about these interview processes were how long they took. It takes multiple steps just to get an interview and then you may not hear back for months at a time. In fact, I’m still getting contacted about jobs that I applied for back in January and February with companies like GE and IBM.

The other opportunity I had in healthcare was to pursue a career as an assistant healthcare administrator through the medical management company that set up my internship. Although I would eventually like to work as an administrator, I wanted to gain more experience in the industry first. Also, these positions would all be at small clinics in remote locations like Alaska or smaller towns in Washington. I chose to take the job with MultiCare because I really liked the company, I wanted to be able to travel, and because I felt as though it was a very unique opportunity that I might not get again.

6) What advice can you give MC readers about breaking into healthcare consulting?

The most crucial advice that I can offer is to network effectively. Due to our current economic climate, recent college graduates are now competing with applicants who have 1-5 years of experience. Recent graduates – you’ll be lucky to even get an interview if you just blindly apply for jobs online. If you’re a college student, talk to your school’s career center or alumni center to see if they have a list of alumni who are in the industry.

I also utilized LinkedIn to connect with anyone that I could. You can’t be afraid to connect with a professional. When you ask them to connect with you, send them a personalized note letting them know who you are and that you would like to connect with them to build your professional network as well as learn more about the industry. More often than not, they will respect your ambition and initiative.

I also cannot place enough emphasis on taking any possible opportunity to get experience. I worked 15-20 hours a week as an intern and was paid nothing for it, but it was crucial to ultimately getting a job. Grades are important and can attract a recruiter to your resume, so you have to meet the baseline standards, but proven industry specific experience will set you apart from other applicants.

You can see why Collin gets to steal a bit of our limelight as a part of Networking Month here at MC – he did a killer job of opening many doors, and ultimately found one he was really thrilled about.  Getting your number one choice in this economy as an unproven undergrad – well done!