Abbey Wills is a rising senior from Amissville, VA and is pursuing a dual degree in Management, Management Consulting and Analytics (MCA) option and BIT, Operations and Supply Chain Management option (OSM).

This summer, Abbey will be working at EY as an intern on the company’s People Advisory Services team. If her internship goes well – and she is offered a full-time position – she will consider returning to EY after graduation. Preferably, she will be able gain experience in the professional world for several years before returning to school for a graduate program.

We recently asked her to share both her Virginia Tech and Pamplin journeys with us.

Why did you choose Virginia Tech? When and why did you choose MGT?

Since my sister attended Virginia Tech, I grew up visiting the school, but it was not until I began seriously touring colleges in high school when I discovered I wanted to attend as well. As a senior, I ultimately chose Virginia Tech because I was drawn to the university’s sense of community and emphasis on service as well as its myriad activities and ways to get involved. I began Pamplin as a Business Undecided student and spent my freshman year taking general business classes. After taking Principles of Management and discovering my interest in project management, I decided to declare MGT as my major. The MCA option seemed like a perfect fit since I knew I wanted to work in consulting, especially considering the relevant experience you gain with real clients. In the spring of my freshman year, I learned about the Consulting Group and applied and was accepted to the organization this past fall. Next year, I will serve as the organization’s Director of Finance. I also decided to add a BIT major to combine technical skills with the interpersonal and hands-on teamwork skills that MGT offers.

Were there any specific classes that you remember as validating your major choice to date?

There have been several classes that solidified my choice to pursue a MGT degree, namely Principles of Management and Principles of Project Management. During the fall of my sophomore year, Dr. Thompson’s Principles of Management course was one of the most energetic and enjoyable classroom experiences and truly sparked my interest in the major. It was interesting because I learned about many different management topics, and he integrated his organization behavior research into the course material. Dr. Thompson’s energy elevated the classroom experience and piqued my interest in change management and organization behavior, which led me to choose the service line for my internship. Dr. Williamson’s Principles of Project Management was also a great experience this past fall; I was in the first section of the class – as it was new – but I found a lot of value in the hands-on tools and applications that we used as well as in his knowledge from industry experience. Since I have considered pursuing a career in project management, his class provided great exposure to this field.

Has there been a faculty or staff member within Pamplin and/or the MGT department that has served as a mentor or source of inspiration for you during your journey?

Not only is faculty mentorship invaluable, but also the mentorship that arises from meeting peers who have taken the same classes and building relationships with upperclassmen in your same major. Dr. Williamson has been a mentor for me as I have navigated project management certifications. Hannah Landers – the Business Horizons faculty leader – has also been an important mentor as I have navigated both my career search and leadership positions throughout my time in Pamplin.

What advice would you provide to an incoming Pamplin freshman?

Try as many things as possible until you find an organization or interest you are passionate about. From there, I think that as you progress throughout your college experience, depth of involvement can become more impactful than breadth of involvement. Through my roles in CGVT and the Business Horizons Planning Team, I have met so many other like-minded students and found mentors in peers who have gone through the same processes as I have. Additionally, always reach out to your professors and build meaningful relationships; Pamplin professors are very genuine and are always willing to help.

What/who is your inspiration for leadership?

My inspiration for leadership consists of identifying why you are doing something and using that reason as your primary source of motivation. I believe that passionate leaders are the most impactful. Throughout my leadership coursework I have been exposed to Simon Sinek’s Ted Talks, whose philosophy of “finding your why” explains how great leaders inspire action and make people feel safe. I enjoy my minor’s leadership coursework for the inherent introspection it encourages as we identify our own philosophies for leadership.

Name some of the internships, if any, that you had during your Virginia Tech and/or Pamplin journey. How did you approach the process?

I was fortunate enough to secure an internship after my freshman year as an IT Project Manager for Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C. I was the only intern in that department, so many of my daily interactions consisted of reporting directly to the project manager and the department’s director. My responsibilities included facilitating conversations with other department heads surrounding the migration of their content to a new intranet platform, providing quality assurance, user experience, and interface feedback to the developers, and creating documentation for internal applications.

After my sophomore year, I focused on externships and was able to secure opportunities with Baker Tilly and EY’s Women in Technology Conference. I initially approached these companies at Business Horizons, where I was able to connect with recruiters through my role as the Corporate Correspondence Committee Chair and follow up with online applications. Through the Women in Technology Conference last summer, I was able to advance to EY’s final interview round for an internship, which is how I received a virtual internship position with their People Advisory Services team this summer. My advice is to apply to as many openings as possible, as you never know who will reach out to you!

If you could give a testimonial about Pamplin and/or the Management Department curriculum, what would you say?

A valuable aspect of the MGT curriculum in particular is the hands-on nature of the upper-level classes, which focus on working with real clients and completing semester-long projects that mimic actual business scenarios. Pamplin gives us the opportunity to not only hone our classroom skills, but also to work closely in teams with real-world clients before graduation so we have relevant work experience.