Entering my MBA program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, I sought an internship in consulting because I believed that it would allow me to combine my engineering problem solving skills with the passion for business growth that I developed as a product manager. My summer internship at L.E.K. Consulting’s Chicago office has given me that opportunity from day one. In my first case, I worked with a Fortune 100 CPG food manufacturer to identify new growth opportunities to combat stagnant demand for their core product categories.
Even though my next client was also a CPG food manufacturer, their business situation could not have been more different. The L.E.K. team was asked by a PE firm to build out growth scenarios for a medium sized private manufacturer growing at 30%+ per year! Both experiences allowed me to dig into an unfamiliar industry, learn about the client’s business, work with the L.E.K. team to assess true customer needs, and lay out a plan for long term growth and success of the client business.
During my summer experience I was continually impressed by how much responsibility L.E.K. gives at the consultant level. Consultants are responsible for driving the day to day activities of the case team and often times lead the structuring of analyses and presentation of work to the Managing Directors and Mangers or Principals. As a summer intern I was asked to do many of these same things for my work-streams and given the opportunity to manage associates. L.E.K. is unique in that it provides this type of direct management experience to its consultants rather than the manager or team leader roles at other firms. Of course, this is all made possible by the incredibly intelligent Associates at L.E.K.!
As I reflect back on my summer and write this post to future interns and consultants, I would recommend the following.
- Be flexible! As an MBA student looking into careers in consulting you will hear about uncertainty; uncertainty of hours, uncertainty of case load, uncertainty of work streams. That won’t go away, but if you are flexible you can make it work.
- Be curious. It was quickly apparent to me that the day to day activities of a consultant are more sustainable if you can find interest in your work and learn from the experience.
- Learn from both the associates and the partners. You’ll be working closely with both groups, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from your co-workers, especially those with three to four years of experience in the firm.