“Be Fearless, Be Bold, Challenge the Norm”
Daniel Iglesias is currently a sophomore at Penn and a Campus Ambassador for Elivade. He recently landed an internship at BCG this summer. We talked to him about mentorship and his experience as a Cuban American, first-generation student.
How did you get involved with Elivade?
It all started with taking a class that is a half credit course for the Wharton curriculum – a requirement called business prep. Funny enough Leon (Co-Founder of Elivade) and I both took that course, me at the undergraduate level and him at the grad level.
The professor taught about issues related to diversity in organizations and students would continuously ask about how to get involved with diversity work. When the professor heard about Elivade, she actually promoted it and asked if anyone was interested in connecting with the Elivade founding team and I decided to reach out.
How has being part of Elivade impacted your recruiting process?
I’ve been really grateful for my relationship with Leon and Elivade. I felt a lot of pre-professional pressure at Penn, especially since I’m a first-generation student and I am Cuban American.
Because of my background, I wasn’t really exposed to that many corporate pathways. I was really uncertain of my path, especially considering industries I’d never heard of.
There are so many common mainstream trajectories on a campus like Penn for undergrads – sometimes it can detract from the student experience and can easily mislead people. As a freshman, connecting to someone like Leon and his co-founder was very helpful in helping me understand what different mainstream and non-mainstream pathways could look like.
What do you look for in a mentorship relationship?
I feel like coming to Penn – leaving my bubble – and realizing the differences in demographics was a great shock for me because, when I was in Miami, I was at a school that was 98% hispanic. So when I would think about what a mentor could look like it became less relevant to me whether or not they were hispanic since I was so surrounded by that and it was the norm.
While now, knowing what it is like to be a true minority and feeling like where I live today is in line with the nations demographics, which obviously wasn’t the case in my high school or my town, I think it has become more evident or pressing to me the importance of finding mentors that might also come from similar backgrounds.
How have you found your mentors and built these relationships?
Fortunately, coming to Penn we have a great alumni network that has allowed me to find people within a database based on particular attributes. But beyond that it has actually been quite a challenge for me to find mentors outside of Penn. Elivade has been very helpful in this regard.
On Elivade, I can find people that are more aligned with particular attributes that I’m looking for – maybe they’re a first generation student as well or they’re an underrepresented minority from another campus who has gone through recruiting within the past five years.
The platform opens doors and invites you to a more open and thought provoking dialogue about future opportunities and resources.
What tips do you have for students who are looking to recruit at these big consulting firms?
This is a two-part answer for me – I can give interview specific tips for the general audience but if I were specifically advising underrepresented minorities who are considering interviewing for these big companies, I would say to be fearless, be bold and to challenge the norm.
Even though there are affinity groups at all these organizations there is still this underlying narrative that those spaces may not be meant for us. For example, as a Hispanic person wanting to go into consulting, there are a lot of big consulting clubs on campus. If I attend the monthly meetings, I’ll often be one of three or one of two hispanics out of a group of 80 people. I think that type of ratio could propagate into underrepresented minorities feeling intimidated or discouraged to walk among these groups.
As far as general tips – I would recommend to wait until you have developed a broad understanding of some business fundamentals before starting to do case prep. And to reach out to upperclassmen and MBAs if you know any once you’re ready to go through live scenarios.
You’re involved in a lot of social impact based leadership on campus, what motivates you to continue this work?
A lot of the things I do focus on personal growth but then there is also a lot that is tied to impact. What drives me to carry out a life that aligns with impact is a quote by Jose Marti, a Cuban revolutionary leader who said, “It is a sin not to do what one is capable of doing.”
This can be seen as a bit of an exaggeration but it truly reflects a value that has been inculcated in me, probably because of my background and having parents who immigrated from Cuba in their teenage years. My parents have always taught me to appreciate hard work and always sacrifice for others.
Big thank you to Daniel for sharing his story. If you’re looking for a mentor, find them on Elivade!