It’s no stretch to say Ruby Epstein ’22 dove right into life at Pomona College.
Already committed to hours of practice as a diver for Pomona-Pitzer’s NCAA Division III swimming and diving team, she quickly immersed herself in the student-run Pomona Consulting Group during her first year on campus. By halfway through her sophomore year, Epstein was one of two managing directors of PCG, a club that serves professional business clients and trains students for careers in consulting and other fields.
“I really had no idea what I wanted to do, so that was part of the reason I joined,” she says, explaining the opportunity to delve into a range of businesses. “I think that’s the case for a lot of people—PCG provides broad exposure across so many areas that it’s a great experience regardless of what you’re hoping to do.”
After wrapping up her diving career last spring by becoming the first Sagehen woman in nearly two decades to compete in the NCAA Division III diving championships, Epstein also handed the reins of PCG to two new managing directors. She’ll graduate in December after taking a semester off during the pandemic closure—a move that allowed her to complete one more internship before her search for a post-graduation job in consulting. She spent the last few months in San Francisco as a summer associate for AlphaSights, a global firm that specializes in knowledge on-demand by connecting investment and business leaders to a network of outside experts in an array of fields.
“AlphaSights has introduced me to so many great people and allowed me to work on projects across a large variety of industries,” Epstein says. “It’s been a great learning experience and has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to be an active contributor on my team and deliver top industry knowledge to clients.”
A Top Career Choice for Graduates
Consulting and professional services—along with technology, education, financial services, and arts, entertainment and media—are among the top careers chosen by recent Pomona College graduates. In addition, 25% of alumni in the Class of 2021 First Destinations Report entered graduate school, and a recent survey found that within 10 years of graduating from Pomona, 81 percent of alumni were either pursuing or had already completed an advanced degree.
As a managing director of PCG—an acronym that brings to mind the prominent Boston Consulting Group—Epstein helped build the club from 15 or 20 students when she started to more than 60 over her 2½ years in the role. Students join PCG as associate consultants and move up to consultant or leadership positions.
“We have real clients that we work with—both in the area and throughout the U.S.—for our consultant teams, which are usually made up of one project lead and then four consultants,” Epstein says. “Our consultant teams work with clients and also with our external mentors, who are either 5C alums or people that we’ve been in contact with who are working in consulting and can come in and coach our project leads.
“The associate consulting program is a bit more of a training program,” she continues. “They’re put into smaller groups and are all helping the same client, working through the process and learning different aspects of consulting like terminology and problem-solving strategies. They also work with project mentors and participate in events for recruiting, resumé tips, things like that.”
Managing a Busy Schedule
Epstein handled all of it with the same precision and grace that made her the 2022 SCIAC Diver of the Year. She later qualified for the NCAA Division III diving championships, finishing in the top 30 nationally on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. An excellent student majoring in cognitive science with a computer science concentration plus a minor in economics, she also earned Scholar All-American honors from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.
Epstein’s multiple commitments haven’t hurt her performance. In some ways, she believes, they’ve made her better, honing two skills that are vital in any career: time management and organization.
“It’s definitely been tough,” she admits of her schedule, adding that the support of her teammates has been invaluable. “I think another benefit of being an athlete on this team, especially, has been having a consistent practice schedule and a strong support network. On top of that, a consistent class time really helps you build out more of a routine and a regular schedule.
“It’s still been hard, honestly, to accomplish everything I want to accomplish,” Epstein says. “But just being able to chip away at things and understand that not everything has to be done at once has been helpful for me.”
While diving has been a constant, Epstein says PCG activities ebb and flow throughout the academic year. “We might be working on a specific project,” she says. “Or when I was a consultant, there were maybe a few weeks where we had to get things done and it was a bit more crunch time—and those tend to fall at the same time as midterms and finals. So it does sometimes feel like everything hits at once. But just being able to build up a consistent schedule and setting aside time to do everything really helps.”
Diving has provided its own lessons.
“I think the biggest things that I’ve learned have probably been perseverance and overcoming fear,” Epstein says. “A lot of diving is not necessarily whether your body is capable of doing something. It’s less about physical endurance and physical strength and more about overcoming huge mental blocks to figure out in your head how to do a dive. I think the biggest outcome for me has been learning that I can always push a little bit further than I thought, and that’s something that will carry on—and has carried on—throughout other areas of my life.”