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Friday, August 14, 2015

My Summer Internship

Today was my last day as a summer intern at EMH Strategy, a boutique management consulting firm in New Orleans. It's bittersweet. It's sweet because I won't have to sweat like crazy on my commute to work (gross, I know), I can be with my family, and relax, but it's bitter because I am really going to miss EMH, my mentors, and my clients.

Overall, I could not be happier with my decision to work at EMH. My mentors have been so considerate and helpful every step of the way, and EMH was truly a great place to get exposure to consulting. I learned a lot about myself, the industry, and New Orleans.

from left to right: My MD Jeremy, Malavika, me, and Andrew

As an intern, I had many internal and external assignments. My internal tasks included creating databases on Southern companies, writing blog posts and white papers, and organizing business development stuff for client acquisition. My external tasks were client work. It's a pretty broad category, but my external assignments depended a lot on the client and what their cases required.

People told me that analysts in smaller firms are given more responsibility than those in larger firms. They were 100% right. On my very first week of work, I was put in client meetings, gave presentations, and conducted market research. Pretty fun, right?

I learned so much just from the first week. You can memorize frameworks as much as you want, but I think the best way to learn them is by applying them to real life situations. I watched my mentors put frameworks into action and learned how they structured the problem.

For instance, there was a client whose business needed help but he wasn't sure what the problem was; all he knew was that something wasn't right. Sounds like a typical case interview, right?

My team members got together for a strategy session. We sat there and considered the internal and external factors that could be affecting the business. After almost two hours of drawing diagrams and flow charts on the white board and throwing around ideas, we had a game plan. We knew what we were going to do to find the problem and what to do about it. It was stimulating, and most of all, it was fun.

Consulting is fun, but it is not easy.  Coming up with a strategy is one thing. Working with clients is another. Sometimes your clients won't take your recommendation, even though they paid a lot of money for your expertise. Sometimes they won't give you the data you need to do what they asked of you. When I was at the McKinsey Women's Summit, one analyst told me that even Fortune 500 companies sometimes do the same thing! I was somewhat surprised that a large and prestigious firm like McKinsey had the same challenges as my small firm.

Despite the challenges of client work, I feel like consulting is very rewarding. It's a great feeling to know that your client trusts you, and it's an even better feeling to see your suggestions work. Even if clients didn't take my suggestions, I knew that my coworkers and I did all we could do to help them. We took the time to look into their business and worked hard to come up with the best strategy possible.

My mentor Katherine and me before she left for China!

One of the things I loved the most about my internship was how I became part of the New Orleans community. I worked with the coolest people. The brands, businesses, and companies that I grew up hearing about were now my clients! It was so amazing that I was actually meeting the owners of these companies and helping them make a positive difference in their business.

I got to meet not only business owners but also influential people in the New Orleans nonprofit and social innovation community, one being Timolynn Sams Sumter (click here for my interview with Timolynn!) There are really some truly amazing people doing incredible work. I think that's what makes New Orleans so special. People love New Orleans so much that they dedicate a lot of time and energy into improving the city not for themselves but for others.

Timolynn Sams Sumter and sweaty me...
I loved my mentors the most. A pro about working for a small firm is that they allocate time and resources well to help you. For instance, when I told my coworkers that I was struggling with interview preparation, they scheduled a two-hour help session. They also planned a "your-internship-is-halfway-over" luncheon for me. One of my mentors, Andrew, emails me links to every helpful article that he comes across. This past Wednesday, they had a nice little "Goodbye Phyllis" at this place called Purloo during their happy hour, which was fantastic. It's very different from working at a huge company where strangers outnumber the people you do know.

My internship taught me a lot about myself. By completing difficult assignments, putting myself out there, and engaging with clients, I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were and what I really enjoy doing. In addition, I now know what to look for in other internships or jobs, such as culture and strong mentor programs.

You know you're grateful when you have trouble fitting everything you want to say into a thank you card. I literally stayed up until 2 AM because I had so much to thank my mentors for.

Thank you, EMH, for an absolutely amazing summer. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

With love,

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! :) I appreciate your reading the post!

  2. I love your office attire. You always have the cutest work appropriate dresses!

    1. Thank you so much! The first dress is from BCBG, and the rest of the dresses are from J. Crew :)

  3. Hey just found ur blog! I'm from PA too :)
    XO Ellen from Ask Away

  4. Sounds like a wonderful experience!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls

  5. I am glad you had such a great internship! Good luck in your next career steps!



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