Recently, Stax took some time with our Northeastern University Spring 2022 co-op Cameron Vadnais to share the experiences and memories he made during this year's program. We would also like to extend our thanks to Cameron for his amazing effort and contributions to our team.
What is your major/background/hobbies/interests at Northeastern?
I’m originally from Fort Lauderdale, FL, and I am currently a fourth-year student studying finance and supply chain management at Northeastern. I’m highly interested in topics and industries related to global supply chain procurement, transportation and logistics, sustainability - as well as urban planning development, and clean energy. Hobbies of mine include biking, exploring new places, cooking, practicing guitar, and playing soccer with my friends.
What were you hoping to gain through the Northeastern co-op experience?
The co-op experience was the main reason I chose to attend NEU, and I was highly excited about the idea of getting extensive professional experience before graduating. With the program being six months, I believe it’s multiple times better than many shorter summer internships because you have the time to fully become ingrained within the culture of an organization and finish with a deeper understanding of the industry and the work.
At Stax, what were your co-op responsibilities, and what have you learned over the last six months?
At Stax, my co-op responsibilities varied from project to project, with the core workflows being:
I learned a lot in my six months, as the team was very keen to provide me with constant opportunities to try new workstreams and tasks. One of my biggest learnings was the power of leveraging the resources that are available to me. This is evident in our usage of Colombo for research, data analysis, and deliverable creation help, as well as in the vast knowledge base Stax has built up from work in similar industries.
When starting a new project that you know little about, it can be highly useful to reference older projects or individuals on those projects. The opportunity to reconnect with experts Stax has already spoken with is also an important tool to use. Further, I learned highly valuable project management skills and honed my ability to prioritize and delegate work as well as communicate effectively during team meetings to keep things moving at a quick pace.
What has been your most memorable experience at Stax? What has been your favorite industry, product, or service to evaluate?
My most memorable experience at Stax was working on a project with Ashley VDK, Anantha, and Owen for an equity sponsor. The project was interesting in the fact that while the first part was essentially normal due diligence, the second part had our team focusing on potential roll-up opportunities and synergies between the target business and the client’s existing business. The project proved to be really hard work, as our team was quite streamlined, and the client also had requested an additional midterm deliverable from us at a time when part of the team would be mostly out of the office.
I spent a lot of hours with Ashley working through this midterm slide deck and continuing to refine our perception of the story while managing the primary pipeline the entire time, and while we had some tough nights getting the project in a good spot for when the full team was back, the experience was memorable in that it showed me what it takes to be in this industry and taught me how to be flexible in my work. It was also a really great team and the project was interesting so I enjoyed working with everyone.
My favorite service/industry I evaluated was an online marketplace for freelance marketers to find temporary work. It was very interesting because we had to evaluate both the supply and demand sides of the situation due to its nature as a marketplace, and a decent amount of our research included an analysis of the macro-economic climate of the U.S., which I thought was cool to tie into this specific project.
How has this experience compared to your co-op opportunities?
I’ve only had one other co-op experience as a Research Analyst at Steer Partners; although these past six months at Stax far outshone that first experience — both in the type of work and the people I got to meet throughout the organization. The co-op experience at Stax was much more guided and structured in a way that it pushed you to work hard, internalize feedback, and be a better team player.
What advice would you give to an incoming co-op/intern?
Firstly, make an effort to smile at people in the office and strike up a conversation with people you don’t know; people are very friendly. Secondly, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Make sure you’re asking questions to your team/specific individuals when things aren’t making sense and keep the team updated as much as you can on your workstreams. Lastly, keep in mind the idea of ownership as much as you can. Seek chances to take work off others’ plates, and stick a foot out there to ask for new work if you’re interested in learning something more advanced, like modeling or survey building. Just make sure you have your own responsibilities in line first!
How has the Stax co-op experience helped guide your post-graduation career goals/path?
My time at Stax has only solidified my yearning to go into consulting post-graduation, although I think this experience was very helpful in showing me a different way of operating in consulting - work-life balance doesn’t have to be an afterthought. Overall, it has made me very excited to continue learning in this dynamic industry.
For years, Stax has been working alongside Northeastern University to provide its students with an extensive co-op experience that is both practical and valuable in learning more about consulting. While the co-op is exclusively for students, Stax is always looking to hire new talent. If you're interested in working for Stax, you can read more on our Careers page.