During the summer of 2016, I interned at the University of Washington Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC). Overall, the experience was incredible as I got to apply a vast range of my skill set to solve business problems for clients needing my help. My day-to-day duties varied greatly. As a consulting internship, there is no set routine for daily tasks. Typically, there was some sort of research task I had set for myself, but these tasks were dynamic in the sense that they changed and adapted to my findings and to the desires of my clients. This made the job extra valuable and enjoyable as the changing nature of responsibilities and tasks created a more engaging environment for me. In addition to online research and analysis, I frequently had client meetings and would meet with industry experts to conduct further research. The dynamic and interactive features of my day-to-day work created the most engaging work experience I could have imagined.
We had a few social events throughout the course of the summer. The CBDC is about a 10-person department, so our social events were focused around developing deeper connections with each person in the department. One of my favorite events was a barbeque at the Director (Michael Verchot) of the CBDC’s house. Everyone in the CBDC got to enjoy spending time outside the office together and it was one of the best ways for me to get to know my coworkers much better.
My advice to students looking for experience in the consulting industry is to be willing to work on a wide range of business problems. You will need to be willing to adapt to a multitude of different situations and communication styles. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to practice over-communication. When working with clients who are relying on you for some sort of solution, it is almost always better to communicate more than you think you should, rather than just enough. Clients often appreciate a very clear channel of communication and this openness and consistency will help to deliver higher quality recommendations to best suit the clients’ needs.
I worked with three different clients over the course of my 10 weeks with the CBDC. They all had a cumulative presentation and write-up. The reason for these deliverables were to provide a spoken version of my recommendations with ample time for questions and clarifications as well as a written document for the client to reference as they implement the recommendations. I found these deliverables to be very reasonable as I worked on them throughout my entire 10 weeks. I had weekly meetings with all my clients which made the final presentation very simple. They were already up-to-date on many of my recommendations and the weekly meetings helped me understand what was feasible for their companies. This ensured my recommendations were implementable and provided the most value possible for the client.