It’s easy to focus on trying to ensure the company wants to hire you, but I think it’s more important to think about whether you actually want to work for them!
Why do you think you were successful in applying for an internship?
Before applying I considered how the skills I already had could be applied to consulting, and how I could best demonstrate the willingness and ability to learn the skills I didn’t possess. This helped me plan and structure examples to prove I was a good candidate. I had done several internships with online and print journalism before I applied here, and the experiences and skills I had gained definitely contributed to what I spoke about during my interviews. I also did some specific preparation for case study interviews. The best advice I had was not to get caught up in trying to apply frameworks, but rather to identify the problem, summarise all the information provided by the interviewer and identify what else is missing in order to ask questions and get to an answer.
What sort of training did you receive during your internship?
We had a week of orientation before being staffed on a project. In addition, we had regular ‘Friday Breakfast Clubs’ with the whole company, during which consultants gave presentations describing current projects throughout various industries. My project team members were also a great source of tips and wisdom on the ground.
Tell us about the work you did.
I enjoyed the continuity of working on one project throughout my 10 weeks as it gave me a chance to learn a lot about the topic and take on more responsibility as my internship progressed. I supported a specific piece of work by collecting data in the ‘field’ and performing analysis on it in combination with internal company data. Then I built a dynamic model to capture the results. What sort of support did you receive? I was assigned a ‘buddy’ who had a couple of years’ experience at the firm and a formal ‘advisor’ who provided more high-level advice on career plans. I received formal reviews after five and ten weeks, along with informal feedback sessions every couple of weeks.
What skills did your internship equip you with?
It gave me the confidence to tackle pieces of work using techniques in which I did not have a strong background (eg statistical analysis). It also helped me refine the way I present and communicate my ideas in a professional setting. Did you learn anything about consulting that surprised you? I was surprised by how much responsibility I was encouraged to take on as early as possible – it’s definitely a steep learning curve, but it meant that I was never bored!
What advice would you give to graduates looking for consulting internships?
Apply to a really wide range of different places. I gained a good feeling for several companies by attending interviews and talking to their consultants. Sometimes my impressions changed quite a lot compared with what I had gleaned from research beforehand!
What advice would you give to those hoping to turn their internships into full-time job offers?
It’s easy to focus on trying to ensure the company wants to hire you, but I think it’s more important to think about whether you actually want to work for them! Even if you decide that it’s not for you post-internship, there are still many valuable and transferable skills that you can take away.