Summer of ’16 : Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Consultant? – Shubham From XLRI
“I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it ’til my fingers bled
Was the summer of ’69”
While it would be safe to say that the summer of ’16 was nowhere as musical as Bryan had made out the summer of ’69 to be, it certainly was groundbreaking for me. Accenture Strategy had made sure of that.
The journey started, as all B-school internship journeys do (whether you realize it or not), on the first day at campus when I arrived at XLRI. An undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering & two years of work experience in a Maharatna PSU had given me a lot of exposure to manufacturing & process industries. However, the domain of Consulting was entirely new to me.
Fast forward to the day of the interview, after a grueling 14-hour process, I was sitting opposite the Partner for the final round. All those days of preparation & background research had been for this moment. In this case, conventional wisdom had nothing to do with how the interview went. We talked on so many topics, like books, tourism, architecture, history, etc. that by the end of it, I couldn’t believe that this was the round I was so afraid of. Two hours later, I was welcomed to Accenture Strategy as an Intern.
My internship kicked off on 4th April, one day after our exams had ended. The best part (more on this later) was that I was sent directly to the client location, which was a really remote project site. There was an initial trepidation in my mind regarding the location but since I’ve had experience of working in remote project locations, I took it in a stride. It was a four-member team working on the ground, including two interns. Taking a bird’s eye view of the project, the team had to design commercial processes for a natural resources major. It was an Operations project.
I had heard stories of the arduous travel, steep learning curve & long working hours prevalent in the industry. But being in on the action was a totally different experience altogether. In my opinion, a consulting internship is a lot like joining a B-School. One has to hit the ground running & pick-up skills along the way at a fairly high pace. The team was supportive along the way & provided excellent resources & guidance whenever I hit a roadblock. While it is true that it took me some time to come up to speed, the sheer level of interaction with the client means that there was no time to waste. An excellent opportunity that I got with Accenture was that I got a chance to interact with the client in an individual capacity, which was more than I had hoped for at the beginning.
My time with the firm was extremely comfortable, to say the least. Where else do you get a chance to stay in the best of hotels & try out the best food possible, day in & day out?
The Awe-inspiring part
The conversations that we used to have with the team were truly inspiring. These were people who knew more about the client’s business than the client did. The level of insights was amazing. As was the way they connected the dots regarding isolated events in the entire economy. These conversations were what made it even more interesting. Although the location was remote & there wasn’t much in the way of recreation, I covered the major tourist places in the state during the weekends. I’d never forget working under the moonlight, in Chandipur beach, with a deadline looming just round the corner. But then, these are the very things that make the life of a consultant.
- Time Management: At the risk of sounding clichéd, this is the most cardinal learning out of my internship. A business school is indeed challenging when it comes to managing time, but the sheer number of deliverables expected out of you in a consulting internship requires meticulous time management as wells as prioritizing the work to a great extent.
- Deck Preparation: Ensuring maximum content in minimum number of slides, while ensuring that the deck is presentable & clutter-free, is one of the key learnings I have.
- MS-Excel: The sheer amount of qualitative as well as quantitative data that needs to be handled requires a decent command over spreadsheets. The two months were immensely helpful in this regard.
My internship with Accenture Strategy gave me my first taste of the consulting domain while actively engaging with a client on various modules. So this is what the mean when they talk about learning on-the-job!
Special thanks to my team and friends for making this one of the most memorable experiences of my life.