• Role: Summer Associate
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: History
  • Organisation: L.E.K. Consulting

James Bennington

Why did you choose to do an internship?

There isn’t a huge amount of career information available for first and second year students. I didn’t know what different jobs involved, and I was anxious to be employed after I finished university.

Internships were an ideal solution to both problems. I could experience the job for myself and decide whether I really enjoyed it. There were limits to the insights available from company websites and an internship seemed to be the best check for whether I wanted to do the job as a graduate. At the same time, an internship offered the prospect of giving me an edge in finding a full-time job.

What was the application process like – any advice?

The application process was challenging, especially so as I hadn’t been through it before. I think the format is more or less the same for all of the leading consulting internships.

The interviews are obviously intense, and everyone waiting for one is visibly nervous. However, I remember being pleasantly surprised by the interviewers themselves going out of their way to be friendly and reassuring, and the day itself being as painless as it could be.

My advice for the process would be to devote as much time to preparation as possible. This is easier said than done when you have a full work-schedule at university and are applying to several other companies at the same time. I would highlight three areas to focus on:

  1. Make sure you are not producing a generic CV and cover letter for each application. This is very easy for recruiters to spot and it does not take much time to look at company’s website and pick out the details that actually matter to you.
  2. Practice for the numeracy test. I did a history degree, so I did not spend much time doing any kind of maths after A levels. Practicing basic numeracy to become fast and accurate transformed the numeracy test from a potential problem into a positive for my application.
  3. Find some time to do mock case interviews and someone who will do them with you. There is an infinite amount of advice online about how to approach the cases, but applying that information is something that only comes with practice.

What were your main duties?

I was surprised by the degree of responsibility handed to me from the outset of the internship. As an L.E.K. Summer Associate you are supported with an initial orientation programme, you then participate as a full member of the case team. My responsibilities were essentially the same as what I now do as a full-time associate. I carried out secondary research, analysed the information, and structured the output into slides that were incorporated into the final presentation.

Obviously, I got a lot of support throughout the internship. The L.E.K. office is completely open-plan, and everyone sits in ‘pods’ of up to eight. This structure is designed to make it easy for individuals to cooperate and easily reach out to those around them for assistance. Those sat around me were certainly happy to respond to my frequent pleas for help. Additionally, each intern is paired with a buddy, for help with everyday responsibilities.

What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?

The internship was a brilliant guide to the realities of working as a consultant, and from it I learnt that consulting was what I wanted to do after university. I appreciated the level of responsibility I was given and the exposure to every aspect of the role that came with it. My ignorance remedied, I was able to make a career decision based on the knowledge that I would happy doing the job that I was choosing.

In this spirit, L.E.K. also pairs its interns with a mentor, who is at hand throughout the eight weeks for the more profound conversations about future career and life plans. I was able to discuss with my mentor the concerns I had about a full-time position, the areas of the role I had found more challenging, and what life after consulting, though some years away, might hold. This was one of the best features of the internship.


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