Calculating her every move

For senior Jessica Kong, a co-op in Germany last year meant discovering a passion for consulting and getting a first-hand perspective on how international business operates.

Kong, a finance major, worked in Munich at the Allianz Group, a leading financial services firm focusing on insurance, asset management, and banking. As a member of the company’s in-house consulting group, Kong designed a financial calculation tool that sorted critical cost-accounting data.

This work was part of a project to track spending at the company’s entities in Spain, Italy, France and Germany. During Kong’s co-op, the cost-benchmarking initiative was rolled out elsewhere in Europe, including Switzerland and Austria. Kong also played a key role in expanding the initiative to the United Kingdom, which she called a huge personal accomplishment.

Her impressive work — which involved a great deal of market research — helped pinpoint areas where the company could yield important cost reductions. Seeing this data used to improve operational strategy immediately piqued Kong’s interest.

“I liked the market research aspect,” she said. “For me, that was pretty challenging. It was interesting getting to track all sorts of data.”

Kong’s global experience stretched beyond just gathering data. Working with colleagues from more than a dozen different nations—many of whom spoke three languages—broadened her world view further.

“The amount of appreciation my colleagues had for different cultures was at a level I’ve never seen before,” said Kong, who is Asian-American and is pursuing a minor in Spanish. “That was really rewarding.”

Kong’s experience helped her hone her problem-solving and analytical skills. Having to provide strong factual evidence for all her findings made her more detail-oriented. And the job boosted her confidence.

The co-op also solidified Kong’s intention to pursue consulting and strategy work as a career. She’s already on the right track — she just accepted a post-college job in Dubai with management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

“This experience shed light on what I want to do in my career,” Kong said, “and the things I learned on this project could be applied to any business or industry.”