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When I was first nominated for an internship through the Accenture Skills to Succeed program, I had to Google “consulting.”

I had taken some business classes, such as Business Ethics and Collaborative Change for Social Issues, but I wasn’t aware of the economic space in which Accenture operates.

This internship opened my eyes to a whole new side of business and careers I had never before considered. The leadership and technical skills I gained led to a full-time offer—and now I’m guiding organizations through transformational change as a management consultant.

Skills to navigate the corporate world

The Skills to Succeed internship program provides early career exposure for young adults from underrepresented or underprivileged backgrounds from over 30 nonprofit partners in the US. Through internships and entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, these career seekers are offered the opportunity to get real-world experience in areas like business analysis, project management, service operations and technology support.

One of the best things I learned was how to best communicate in and navigate a corporate environment. I learned to ask questions to clarify what was being asked of me and how to proactively suggest ways I could contribute, considering my skillset and the client and team’s needs.

I also had plenty of opportunities to learn about the latest technologies and decode industry and client terminology—which really helped prepare me for success in my full-time role.

Helping people manage change

When a substantial change happens at your company, it’s often unsettling. You may wonder how it will affect your job security or career progression, your ability to do your job well or the degree to which you enjoy your job.  

As a management consultant, I am focused on employees’ experiences when their company is going through a big change—such as changing services it provides or how it provides them, or changing vendors or software they use on a daily basis.

My role is to understand exactly how employees will be affected by the change and help make it a seamless transition. I consider when and how employees should be made aware of and engaged during the change, such as through training, progress updates and hosting forums to ask questions.

I love that my role makes it my place to say, “Hey, we need to think about this from the employees’ perspective. We need to provide them with the information and support they need.”

How I “own my seat”

Sometimes, when you’re a member of a marginalized community, you can feel compelled to mask parts of yourself in an attempt to fit in. I “own my seat” at Accenture by leaning into how my experiences contribute to my perspective.

I take pride in both my disabilities and my queerness and how those parts of me, in combination with my skills and interests, allow me to contribute in meaningful ways.

The difficulties I’ve faced finding mentors inspired me to build a mentoring program for Accenture LGBTIQ+ employees in the United States and Canada, which served over 300 people in its first year.

My experience with having to rebuild my own personal and professional community is what motivated me to step up as a leader within the disability, Pride (LGBTIQ+) and mental wellness employee resource groups (ERGs) at Accenture. We’re helping connect people with one another, addressing key issues that inform the personal and professional well-being of our community members and providing resources for education and action.

Early-career advice

If you’re just starting out on your career journey, mentors are so important.

Try to form relationships with people who currently work in the industry and share your background, your interests or an aspect of your identity and ask them to chat with you sometime. It might make you feel a little vulnerable, but it’s worth it.

Ready to “own your seat” and do work that makes a real impact, every day? Join us.

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James Jurgensen

Management Consultant, Boston, MA

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