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Economics and Spanish major launches student group to help prepare undergrads for careers in consulting

Author: Hailey Oppenlander

Nick Gabriele 600Nick Gabriele

One of the greatest assets of a Notre Dame degree is the University’s incredible global network. But those connections aren’t only with alumni — senior Nick Gabriele believes that, sometimes, the most important mentors can be fellow students.

Gabriele, an economics and Spanish major who will begin working as a consultant with McKinsey & Company after graduation, launched Consulting Connect — an organization designed to educate students about the diverse field of consulting, prepare them for the recruiting process, and connect them with potential employers.

Having peer guidance was crucial to Gabriele. During his sophomore year, Scott Moore, a senior economics major hired by McKinsey, was extremely influential in advocating for consulting careers, and served as a mentor for Gabriele. But after Moore graduated, Gabriele realized no one had stepped up to take his place.

He met with the Center for Career Development’s point of contact for the consulting industry, and from that meeting, Consulting Connect emerged.

Consulting Connect offers coaching and mentorship directly from students, along with weekly workshops to help students prepare for the “case interview” — a real-life scenario that an interviewee must solve to demonstrate their critical thinking skills. It has also hosted a boot camp run by Management Consulted, a respected consulting preparation organization. 

“We focus on the foundational skills of structuring your thoughts and your solutions, solving quantitative problems in a structured way, thinking creatively, and coming up with innovative, outside-of-the-box solutions,” Gabriele said.

Nick Gabriele Scott MooreScott Moore ’16 (left) and Gabriele. Moore's mentorship to other students and advocacy for consulting careers inspired Gabriele to form the Consulting Connect group.

Solving real-world problems

Last summer, Gabriele gained consulting experience working for McKinsey in a transport and logistics company’s sales division. He was tasked with strategizing to improve sales and efficiency.

Nick Gabriele SibcGabriele and Notre Dame's Student International Business Council visiting Bain & Company.

“It was exhilarating, getting to solve real-world problems that make a real difference in people’s lives and jobs,” he said. “It’s amazing that even as a 21-year-old at the time, they trusted me to give them that advice and work with them.”

In previous years, he has worked on consulting projects for Notre Dame’s Student International Business Council. His economics courses prepared him well for these real-world opportunities, he said. 

“I was really drawn to the diversity of the major,” said Gabriele, who is also a Glynn Family Honors Scholar. “You can study international economics on a very large scale, or you can study a single market or firm on a small scale. You can study political or industrial economics. Within one subject, you can learn so much about a wide variety of topics.”

Gaining a new worldview

Though economics was a perfect fit for Gabriele, he couldn’t ignore a second passion. Gabriele took Spanish in elementary and high school, and after taking a class at Notre Dame, he knew his interest went beyond the language requirement, so he added a supplementary major.

Nick Gabriele IsslpGabriele at a Honduras orphanage during his International Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns.

Studying Spanish language, literature, and history gave Gabriele a more well-rounded worldview that he has translated into international service.

The summer before his junior year, Gabriele participated in an International Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns, teaching children at La Finca del Niño, an orphanage in Honduras. 

“We lived very simply, with no phones, no extra luxuries,” he said, “but there was a lot of goodness in that place and in those people.” 

Gabriele, who also participated in a CSC seminar about border issues in Arizona, plans to continue using his Spanish skills in service opportunities after graduation. 

This summer, he will return for a few weeks to La Finca del Niño before embarking on his career journey at McKinsey. He also hopes to volunteer in a legal clinic serving the Latino population in Chicago. 

Developing lifelong skills 

Gabriele is extremely grateful for his time in Arts and Letters and Glynn — which served as another important network on campus.

“You get great professors, and you get a great cohort of friends you can have real intellectual conversations with,” he said. “I really appreciate Glynn for giving me access to the best and the brightest in our class.”

Gabriele, who is considering graduate school eventually, also completed a senior thesis in economics — studying whether the economy does better under Republican or Democratic presidents at a national level, then comparing those results at the state level with Republican or Democratic governors. 

Even though thesis research is very different from consulting, Gabriele said the communication and analysis skills that students develop in a liberal arts education will make them stand out in the consulting field — or in any career they choose. 

“The base that I had was this ability to communicate, to think, and to analyze from a lot of different perspectives,” he said. “I really value Arts and Letters for helping me develop those more soft, qualitative skills, as well as quantitative skills.”

“The base that I had was this ability to communicate, to think, and to analyze from a lot of different perspectives. I really value Arts and Letters for helping me develop those more soft, qualitative skills, as well as quantitative skills.”