Business philosophy

Aiming for a consulting job, a liberal arts major hits the target.

In Jessica Adepoju’s interdisciplinary program, philosophy and allied fields, she was able to combine an old love, philosophy, with a newer one, economics. At the College Adepoju, AB’14, participated in the UChicago Careers in Business (UCIB) program as well as the Economics and Financial Modeling Club, Consulting Club, and Archery Club. Adepoju had a full-time job lined up before starting her fourth year: she’s now a strategy and operations business analyst at Deloitte in Chicago.

Parental influences 

My dad works with computers. He’s from Nigeria originally and immigrated to the United States when he was in his 20s. My mom is from Georgia. Their different backgrounds have definitely influenced my taste in food and music.

Door of destinies

I went to Zion-Benton Township High School. I had no idea that there was a top university in my own backyard. When I did a tour of UChicago, I just felt so comfortable. The architecture caught me, too. I’ve been to places like Medieval Times and the Renaissance Faire, where everything is fake. Here, the oaken doors actually open.

Game theory

My major, philosophy and allied fields, allows you to pick your own classes with the guidance of a professor. My adviser, Bart Schultz [PhD’87], helped me design a program combining philosophy and economics. One of the most memorable classes I took was Evolution and Economics of Human Behavior with Dario Maestripieri in comparative human development. I had never considered economic behavior from an evolutionary standpoint before. Another class I loved—this is so nerdy, because I’m a big gamer—was Digital Storytelling with Patrick Jagoda in English.

A donor and a mentor

When I first came to UChicago, I had no intention of pursuing business. But I had the opportunity to meet Larry Siegel [AB’75, MBA’77], the donor who sponsored my Odyssey Scholarship. He worked at an investment management firm and for a while was the head of the CFA Institute, which makes the rules for accountants. He was so passionate; he was clearly a very successful individual. He inspired me to want to be like that.

Ethics and investments

The summer after my third year I had a Metcalf internship at Edward Jones in San Francisco. UCIB definitely helped prepare me for this career path, and my advisers and peers helped with everything from my résumé to interviewing.

My boss and I would have long discussions after work about the moral implications of what we were doing. Our office was handling transactions worth millions of dollars. What if we advised a client to do the wrong thing? His answer was, I put everything I can into each and every piece of advice I give. You do the best you can, knowing markets are not certain.

Playing in the sandbox

I want to be an entrepreneur eventually, and spending time doing strategy consulting is one of the best tracks to that. It’s like a sandbox—you gain experience solving strategic problems, while honing your skills, learning the industry, and making a decent income.

Financial freedom

My family is middle-class, but there is no way I could have afforded to come here without the Odyssey scholarship. My sister studies animation at another college in Chicago, where she hasn’t received the same level of aid that I did. She’ll end up with more debt, though the tuition there is less. Within my family, this is a big concern.