Ali Tomsho and Charlie Baca

Despite the job market challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors of the 23rd Honors Cohort secured full-time offers from some of the most prestigious firms in the world.

Two of these students, Ali Tomsho and Charlie Baca, will join McKinsey & Company in Cleveland, Ohio, upon graduation. Their full-time positions are the culmination of internship and recruiting journeys that, despite the pandemic, provided plenty of valuable experiences and personal lessons.

Heading into the summer of 2020, Ali, an information systems major from Powell, Ohio, had secured an internship with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah. Charlie, a finance major originally from Atlanta, Georgia, was headed to KPMG in Chicago, Illinois.

The onset of COVID-19 that spring, however, complicated their plans. Many companies were forced to make drastic changes to their internship and full-time recruiting programs, some cancelling opportunities altogether.

Both firms ended up providing Ali and Charlie summer experiences, but the internships were shortened and entirely virtual.

Ali, who had been excited to travel to Utah for the first time and go on hiking trips with other interns, spent the summer working for Goldman Sachs from her family home.

Instead of participating in client-facing consulting work, Charlie completed learning modules in half the timeframe of a typical internship.

Despite these challenges, Ali and Charlie made the best of their summer experiences and each secured return offers before the full-time recruiting season.

For Ali, there were additional unexpected, positive outcomes from her virtual internship.

“I became really close to my family again,” she said. “I never thought I would have the opportunity to live at home again with my younger brother and my parents. I realized that moving across the country after graduation was not for me. When I started looking for full-time jobs, location was a big determining factor that I had not accounted for beforehand.”

Without traditional recruiting during their senior year, the students had to find ways to showcase their personality, skills and talents over the phone. When presented with case interviews, they were limited to simply describing their thought processes — no visual aids were permitted.

With many companies offering fewer positions, opportunities for students to find the right fit were limited.

Because of the virtual environment, some students were unable to truly immerse themselves in the cultures of their companies. The lack of in-person experiences resulted in less tangible information available to students considering job offers.

Despite these additional challenges, Ali and Charlie both secured full-time job offers with McKinsey & Company.

They grappled with hypotheticals that most Honors Cohort alumni never had to consider as graduation neared, thoughts like “What if my job offer changes because of the pandemic? How do I start my career off strong if I remain virtual?”

In telling their stories, Ali and Charlie emphasized how helpful Honors Cohort Program Director Ty Shepfer and the Cohort alumni network were in this process.

“The Chicago and San Francisco trips were the first time I was hearing about opportunities like venture capital, private equity and consulting,” Ali said. “As an information systems student, it meant the world to me to be able to hear directly from alumni what my options look like.”

23rd Honors Cohort in San Francisco in January of 2020.
In January 2020, the 23rd Honors Cohort Class traveled to San Francisco, California, for an experience focused on the technology, entrepreneurship, investments and innovation.


Charlie echoed the gratitude felt toward the Cohort’s alumni family.

“We would not be here without you,” he said. “I am so thankful for all who give back to the program. I am inspired to remain involved once I graduate and help the program continue to grow in the future.”