Why did you choose to do an internship?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated and thought an internship would give me the chance to try something out before committing full time. I had also been advised by my friends in the year above at university that even if I didn’t find my ‘dream job’ during my internship, it would still be a great asset on my CV if it came to applying for full-time jobs in my final year. Consulting appealed to me because of the opportunity to experience a variety of industries, whilst also learning a broad set of skills. It did also help that the internship was only eight weeks long, leaving me with a month free to enjoy some travelling around Europe!
How did it tie in with your overall career plans?
As I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to follow, consulting appealed as it offered the opportunity to work on a range of projects without specialising. This is still the case for me now that I am in the role full time – I enjoy working on different types of projects and across various industries, especially as I am still discovering what interests me most.
At this early stage in my career consulting also felt like a good choice as even people in the junior positions get given a lot of responsibility. This, combined with the training programmes on offer, provides a great opportunity for learning and development. For example, on my last case I had the chance to observe a few client workshops, before being given responsibility for developing the majority of the content for the next workshop and leading the discussion during the workshop. I feel like I am developing core skills which will be useful in whatever roles I take on later in my career.
What was the application process like?
The application process itself was simple, requiring only a CV and cover letter. However, getting through to the first round of interviews is very competitive. My advice would be to make the most of the opportunities at university to develop some of the broader skills required in consulting, such as teamwork and leadership, and demonstrate these on your CV. Most consulting firms look for a range of interests and skills beyond just your academic ability.
I had five interviews in total which I found challenging, but enjoyable. I think my top two tips would be, firstly, to read and practice case-style interviews, including doing at least one or two out loud with a friend or your careers service. Secondly, try to be calm and confident on the day itself to make sure you show the best side of yourself. Remember that at the end of the day the person interviewing you has to want to work with you and feel like they would be happy to put you in front of a client.
What were your main duties?
The project I worked on during most of my internship was a healthcare project, where I was part of a team of four people. As an intern, I was treated the same as any other junior member of the team which meant having a lot of responsibility and my work being used as part of the final output. Luckily, this never felt like too much pressure as I had a lot of support from the rest of the team.
I performed a mix of different types of work on the project. Some were individual pieces of work that I owned, such as analyses of the company’s performance and the market. For example, I conducted an analysis to compare the growth and profitability of different customer segments in various markets. This analysis was then used as the basis for some of our recommendations to the company. Other parts of my work involved the broader team, such as conducting interviews. I particularly enjoyed the sessions we would have as a whole team, where we would assess the work we had completed to date and brainstorm ideas and solutions for the next stage.
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
Firstly – apply! There is no downside to doing an internship. If you enjoy it, then you are fairly likely to receive a full time job offer, and if you don’t, then you’ve gained some new skills and experience on your CV.
It can feel stressful to go through all the application processes when you’re busy in your penultimate year – but it is worth doing to save you time in your final year. Research potential internships and apply to a chosen selection so that you avoid spending all of your time filling out numerous application forms. You’re better off making fewer, higher quality applications to companies you actually would like to work for.