This summer, I have completed my internship at Oliver Wyman in Moscow. Daily responsibilities of either an intern or a first year consultant may differ significantly depending on your team, project and stream of the project you are working on. My own daily responsibilities varied substantially throughout my internship. In the first two weeks, when I was not assigned to a project yet, I was working on business development of the retail practice. Business development may include activities like market research, preparation of a pitch (presentation) for a potential client or some specific support analysis.
From my third week onwards and until the end of my internship, I was assigned to a project related to risk management system benchmarking, analysis and optimization for one of the largest pension groups in Russia. While I was staffed on this project, I had a chance to work on many different tasks. For some time, I was independently working on operational risks identification and categorization through analysis of several databases. I had a chance to analyze asset composition of some funds and develop risk areas based on regulatory acts and asset quality of portfolio components. However, I spent most of my time working on the benchmarking of regulatory regimes in different countries. I also had a chance to coordinate the work and collaborate with my colleagues outside Moscow office, namely from Spain, US, UK and Poland.
The learning curve was steep for me, especially during the first weeks. I am sure the same would happen to everyone who has never worked in consulting. The industry is fast-paced, volatile and very demanding. You need to adapt fast and be aware of the working style your manager prefers. In my opinion, the best advice for the first weeks would consist of the following three things:
carefully listen to all advices and recommendations,
be committed in every task and
keep consistently asking for feedback and implement it immediately.
Getting the Internship
For me the most difficult things in the application process were: one particular interview and the numerical reasoning test. Oliver Wyman has its own specific test, which significantly differs from most of the numerical tests that are quite easy to pass (like the ones in most of the applications to investment banks). I was able to successfully pass the test only because I spent a whole day or two practicing by solving similar questions, which you can find online. As for the interview, it really depends on who is your interviewer. Topics vary significantly, you might get a market sizing question about fuel costs for airlines, you might only get motivational questions and brain teasers, or you might get a particularly difficult finance-related case, which is what happened to me in one of the interviews. In such case, you just need to ask additional questions if something is not clear to you, and then try to do your best at cracking it. I didn’t do exceptionally well in this interview, but since the other interviews went well, I was invited to an additional one, after which I finally secured the internship offer.
Overall, I would say that participation in competitions organized by the Project Firefly gave me an important edge, which I was able to use throughout many recruitment processes. I would recommend anyone to join this growing global community in order to gain the advantage over your competition. Remember that your collaboration with PF would only grow with time and would turn into a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship as it did in my case.
P.S. It was difficult to put the whole experience into this blog entry, so please let me know if you have any questions in comments.