Career Corner

Amanda Loder

Where can you go with a liberal arts degree? What options are out there for Lawrence graduates? The Career Corner tells the stories of some almni who have found answers to these questions and proves that, yes, there is a job out there for you.Jonathan Bauer, class of 1983, went about building his career systematically, which is fitting. Bauer is, after all, a Lead IT Partner for Southwestern Bell Communications at Deloitte Consulting in Chicago, and he works with computer systems.

Bauer began planning ahead even as he studied at Lawrence, majoring in economics with an interdisciplinary minor in computer science. He went on to take introductory training courses in accounting and systems for four months through Continental Bank in Chicago. After completing this program, he worked for four years at Continental Bank, working with system applications for international banking.

Bauer then got a job with Computer Partners in Chicago, a technology consulting company that was later bought by another company. Six years later, Bauer began working at Deloitte Consulting (soon to be Braxton), which he describes as a “global” company.

Bauer used a generic cellular phone company (or any type of company) to describe what he and Deloitte do. They design and implement computer programs that, in the case of a cellular phone company, tabulate the number of minutes used by a customer, pull up that customer’s name and address, and print the bill, among other functions. The consulting industry is, however, facing difficulties in the current economic climate.

“The businesses are willing to spend less,” Bauer said. “No one wants to spend one million today to save two million] in two years.” He added, “The behavior of our competitors has become much more aggressive.”

Bauer also stressed that Deloitte is faring better than its competitors, and that consulting is still a worthwhile field.

For those students interested in a similar career, Bauer outlined a “typical” career path. First, three or four years will probably be spent doing a combination of design and systems program and systems implementation.

Later, the consultant will begin work on more advanced problems and may manage one or two other people. Gradually, the number of people under a consultant grows, and the consultant will start to “directly interact with the client.”

After 12 or 13 years, the consultant will begin to attend boardroom meetings, meet executives from large companies, and deal with bigger projects from a strategic angle. Finally, the consultant will move into the ranks of Partner.

As a Partner, Bauer has “project teams with four different clients” working under him. Bauer also points out that as their manager he is ultimately responsible for their success or failure.

“My success is really in the hands of the 100-200 people that are working on my projects, and I am not there day-to-day to watch it,” Bauer said.

For Lawrence students wanting to go into the consulting field, Bauer emphasizes that it’s important to stay true to the liberal arts philosophy, which he says does not contradict a professional career.

He advises students to start “by simply thinking about life after Lawrence.