Nikita Parulekar (W’16) is a founding member of Penn Consult for America. She has served numerous roles in CFA, including that of a consultant and an Executive Board Member. She is currently a Project Manager for one of the small business consulting teams.
As members of the Penn community, we are rarely exposed to the reality of West Philadelphia. We stay comfortably oblivious in our Penn bubble, limiting our interactions to other privileged Ivy League students. However, through CFA, I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to interact with several amazing small business owners and entrepreneurs and increase my own understanding of the broader West Philly community.
It was Saturday morning. My Co-Project Manager and I were about to meet with our client for the semester for the first time. Our team of student consultants would be working with her for the upcoming semester. Our project’s success depended heavily on the client’s willingness to collaborate with us. Saying I felt nervous before the meeting, would be an understatement. I kept scrolling through the list of questions we had prepared and going through the preliminary client packet over and over again.
When she walked in, our client, Mary greeted us with the biggest smile and expressed her gratitude for taking her project on. Mary May is one of the most enthusiastic, warm and welcoming individuals I have met. Her passion for her business (she is a family therapist) is infectious. The thing that touched me the most was how grateful she was for anything we could help her with. After the meeting was over, we stayed back for a little bit and chatted about family, and where we were from.
My favorite experiences at CFA have been the various client interactions, whether we’re meeting potential clients or presenting our findings to current clients. Their passion and gratitude truly makes everything worthwhile.