17 Nov 2015 20:36 IST

Learning at a consulting firm

‘I slowly came to the realisation that life after MBA would not be a cakewalk’

I was in the HRM course in XLRI, and had an opportunity to intern in a reputed consulting company based out of Mumbai. I had earlier worked in the Vizag Steel Plant and was quite apprehensive about how consulting organisations functioned.

The city

While the work itself was a learning experience, living in Mumbai was an adventure too. I was staying with friends in a small apartment near Vile Parle and had to commute to my office in Dadar, nearly 13 km from Vile Parle. My first Mumbai local train ride was the scariest: I was dressed in neat formals and was hoping to present myself in best form.

By the time I reached the office, I was be drenched in sweat and in no mood to work. But towards the end of my stay, train rides became very normal and there were moments when I felt sympathy for some people on the platform who, I could see, were new to local trains. With every passing day I began to love Mumbai more.

Organisation

I feel the internship could have been better structured.

On the second day at work I was briefed about my project. I had to conduct a study, which would be published in the People Matters, a HR magazine. I also had to help the company glean insights on industry trends. The study was on Performance Management Trends, an area of particular interest to me. I got down to work from the word go.

At the outset I started reviewing the literature online as well as in the company’s internal database. Apart from this, I was asked to help a team with preparing assessment centre exercises for a major client. Assessment centres determine suitability for specific employment roles.

I was not very well-versed in the nitty-gritty of assessment centres then, and was a little worried. However, I knew that if I pulled this off, it would look great on my CV. And so I put my head to the task and managed to complete it.

My experience in consulting was an eye opener. When I worked in a public sector steel manufacturing company, I was accustomed to a particular style of working. Interning at an MNC was pretty new and was quite a culture shock.

Slowly and steadily, I started making progress in my project.

I submitted my first set of deliverables and it received great reviews. Much to my surprise, I had developed a complete assessment centre by the end of the internship. My primary project on Performance Management Trends was also on track.

By the end of my internship, I had more responses than was initially expected from the study. This took almost 15 iterations and multiple rounds of review. With no prior experience in consulting, I was very happy with my final output in the form of a power point and the other deliverables.

Culture shock

Working at an MNC, I was exposed to a new kind of culture. The constant updates and communication from the HR to the MD was a nice change from my previous workplace.

Consulting jargon is flabbergasting. At the end of the week, my project manager asked me to forward him all the “dope” I had collected for my project and prepare a “deck” by Monday — terms that I was clueless about and had to ask a friend to explain.

The fact that I had to work on a weekend bothered me the most. I slowly came to the realisation that life after MBA would not be a cakewalk.

Settling in

In spite of all my apprehensions, by the end of the first week I realised that the workplace was actually a lot of fun. This was largely because of my team members. The work culture was better than in my previous workplace.

First, half of the team was from XLRI. Second, while most people were at higher positions, they were pretty much my age.

Third, the team and the seniors came forward to help when they saw I was panicking with the assessment centre exercises.. They patiently heard my ideas and gave me honest feedback. They even took time to review my work.

The best part was the tea breaks, where we spoke about everything under the sun, from work to college to pretentious bosses.

At the end of the day, the internship was a prelude to my post-MBA life. I had realised that life was going to be very different. Although at first I was hesitant, now I can say with confidence that I would love to work in a consulting firm. Even though the work is ruthless and back-breaking, the learning opportunities are immense. I was really lucky to have a great team and will always be indebted to them for making my internship a memorable experience.

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