On a breezy Friday morning during Spring Break I took the 8 am Dinky to NY Penn Station and then took the subway to Oliver Wyman’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Once I got there I met up with the other Princeterns and we received an agenda for the day.
All of the Princeterns then met with our host, Mr. Kirk P. Saari ’99 as well as Margaret Kurtzman, one of the campus recruiters. Margaret gave us a brief tour of the office space as we ventured around various areas, such as the “salon” where there was a fully stocked kitchen and ping-pong table. Eventually, we arrived at the conference room we would be staying in for most of day.
Mr. Saari began by giving us an introduction into consulting and what Oliver Wyman specializes in. Then Jim Behot ’11 gave a presentation on how to land an internship or job in the consulting industry. We were given examples of case studies that would be asked at consulting interviews. In addition, the eight Princeterns split up into two teams and were presented with a mock case to analyze and come up with a solution.
After a short break, there was a consultant roundtable Q&A session with three more Princeton alumni currently working at Oliver Wyman: Laura Bock ’12, Ori Daniel ’12, and Michael Duane ’07. They gave us insight into what a typical day is like as well as some of the more memorable projects they’ve worked on since joining the firm.
Finally, we had a very generous lunch with more Princeton alumni at the firm, which also included Kristin Cordwell ’13 and Megan Karande ’13. It was a good opportunity to learn more about various experiences at Princeton and at Oliver Wyman. Overall, I think this Princeternship gave me a very good “day on the job” experience at a leading management-consulting firm. I was able to learn a good amount about what the lifestyles at Oliver Wyman are like in addition to hearing the diverse experiences of various Princeton alumni. I want to thank our host Mr. Saari, Oliver Wyman, and Princeton Career Services for making this great experience possible!
When we arrived at Oliver Wyman, we were given a tour of the office, during which we saw spaces for collaborative work, an exhibit of photographs from consultants’ travels and a popular café area with ping-pong and foosball tables that were popular during the midday hours. I enjoyed the opportunity to physically visit the office, as I was able to attain a new perspective that would not have been possible from on-campus presentations alone.
Over the course of the day, we had the opportunity to hear from many Princeton alums. First, our primary host contact, Kirk Saari ’99, explained to us what consulting really is and what factors might make this career path a good fit for us. It was clear that this first section was designed to help us to fully understand all aspects of the industry, including those that may not be ideal, and to help us to ascertain whether or not we would enjoy and thrive as consultants. I appreciated his honesty about both the positive and negative aspects of the job and his recognition that it may not be the right career path for everybody. It really reflected that he was taking time out of his day specifically to help us students become more informed in making career decisions regarding consulting. With the basics established, we moved on to discussing how to get a job in the industry and talked about the recruiting and interview process. After they explained the purpose and use of case studies, we split into teams and worked on a sample case study.
Subsequently, several consultants came in to talk to us about the projects that they had worked on during their years at Oliver Wyman. Hearing these specific examples helped to make the abstract idea of consulting much more concrete. Many of the consultants who came to speak with us were recent Princeton graduates. I appreciated that, as it was very easy to see myself working on projects like those they described in just a few years. Finally, we had a networking lunch with several consultants. Everyone was very nice and honest in answering all of our questions. I especially enjoyed that many of them were Princeton alumni, as we were able to talk about majors, classes and their paths to consulting in a very relevant manner.
Overall, my experience at Oliver Wyman was quite positive. The day really clarified for me what I would actually do daily as a consultant and how the recruiting process works. While I know that much of this information is available online or in on-campus presentations, actually speaking with employees in the office gave me a fuller understanding of Oliver Wyman. This experience will definitely help me as I move forward with career exploration.
Thank you so much, Kirk Saari and all the other consultants and employees who took time out of their day to speak with us! I appreciate how welcoming and honest you all were, and every one of you really contributed to this positive experience.
I had the opportunity to attend a one-day Princeternship at the Oliver Wyman office in NYC with a few other Princeton students this spring. The Princeternship was designed to give us an introduction to what working at a consulting firm is like and to interact with people at the office.
The reason I applied for the Princeternship was the fact that so many people at Princeton gravitate toward consulting without having much of an insight about the role. From personal experience, even though I had been to many information sessions, I had a rather vague idea about it. I thought going to the office and seeing firsthand what the job entails would give me a better sense of whether I wanted to pursue consulting as a career.
First, we were given an office tour. It was refreshing to see that the office had so many open spaces and you could see people working in large groups. The entire place exuded collaboration and team work. After that, we met our host, Mr. Kirk Saari ’99, who is a Partner at the firm and took the time to speak with us. He talked about the differences between strategic consultants and implementation consultants and how the two bridge the gap between big picture advice and the detailed execution. Oliver Wyman essentially does strategic consulting in various fields such as retail, financial services, automotive and healthcare.
It was fun talking to Mr. Saari since he was very direct about sharing his thoughts and opinions about most things. Before going for the Princeternship, I had the impression that consulting firms have a formal bureaucratic structure. Spending time at the office and observing the comfort level amongst the people we met made me realize that the firm has an open culture and values individual opinions.
After this, we were introduced to other team members who talked about the case interview method and practiced a case with us. During lunch, we discussed some cases that consultants had worked on and asked questions ranging from how they worked on specific cases to work-life balance. Consulting is a great choice, especially at the beginning of your career if you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into a specific industry. It is for people who like variety. You get to work with different teams in various industries and travel to different locations. And because of the nature of the job, you get an opportunity to make a huge impact right at the onset of your career since you are essentially interacting with clients who are at top positions at their own firms. In short, it never gets boring!
On Friday 21st March, Princeton alumni Kirk Saari ‘99 hosted a one-day Princeternship for ten current Princeton Undergraduates at the Management Consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
The purpose of the Princeternship was to orient the students to consulting as a profession, to provide insight into the recruitment process and the lives of consultants. The day was divided into several sessions each hosted by different alumni. There was a session, which provided an introduction to consulting and what the job is all about. This was followed by a demo on what consulting interviews consist of and a discussion on real life cases dealt by Oliver Wyman. To cap the Princeternship off, there was a networking lunch with all the alumni.
Overall the experience was very enlightening and helpful. All the alums were very honest. They were open to any and all questions as long as they did not violate any legal contracts!
The Princeternship answered a lot of questions. Primarily it burst this big bubble about consulting interviews and consulting as a career. Some of the findings were very much contrary to what I had imagined them to be. For example, I had imagined the office environment to be very uptight and formal. To my surprise, the dress code was business casual and there was more of an entrepreneurial and innovative work environment – certainly something very different than what I had expected.
The best part of the Princeternship for me was the mock consulting interview that one of the alumnus ran with us. The students were divided into two groups and we were given a previous interview question. Each group worked together for a few minutes and then presented their solution. Eventually, the alumnus gave us feedback and walked us through the actual solution. Personally, I felt the exposure greatly beneficial. I had heard a lot of different rumors about consulting interviews and now I have firsthand experience.
My advice to future Princeterns is that they should definitely apply for a Princeternship if they find one of interest. Some specific research and questions before the Princeternship really help. I realized that the alums were very honest and this is a great chance to get those minute questions answered that are at times harder to ask at info sessions or career fairs.
Personally I really enjoyed the Princeternship and would like to thank Career Services for taking up this initiative. I would really encourage other students to make the most of these opportunities, as they can be extremely helpful and informative.
On March 21, a group of nine Princeton students interested in consulting careers participated in a Princeternship hosted by alumni Kirk Saari ’99 at Oliver Wyman. Though the Princeternship only lasted one day, it was a very enriching and informative day in the New York office and we learned many things that we previously did not have exposure to.
The day began with a presentation given by a Princeton alumnus regarding Oliver Wyman as a leading consulting firm and the variety of opportunities offered. This was a very informative session because the alumnus went into great detail regarding his personal views of the consulting industry in general and Oliver Wyman in particular. This was different from many other streamlined presentations I have attended and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his professional and personal advice.
Then we engaged in a sample case interview workshop, during which we were divided into two teams and were working on a mini-case. We were given insights on what case interviewers look for in candidates during case interviews. Then we read, discussed and presented the cases in two groups. The most helpful part of this session was the feedback that we received. As we were able to receive first-hand feedback, it gave us a clear idea of what our strong and weak points in our solutions were.
After the case interview workshop, we engaged in a panel event where a few Princeton alumni came to speak about their experiences at Oliver Wyman and consulting in general. This was a very fascinating discussion, as the alumni all had diverse backgrounds, and they all spoke about how they meandered to the consulting path. Another very interesting topic was some of the cases that these alumni enjoyed working on, and it was surprising to see the breadth and depth of some of the cases.
Then we ate lunch at a lunch reception planned for us to network with Princeton alumni working at Oliver Wyman. We engaged in very interesting conversations and gained very fascinating perspectives. Overall it was a very enriching day, and I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to visit the office. I want to thank Kirk Saari, the Princeton alumni working at Oliver Wyman, and the Office of Career Services for offering this opportunity for us.
My Princeternship at Oliver Wyman was a unique opportunity to gain insight into the management consulting industry, and helped me define my personal career goals. The day was very well planned, and demonstrated the company’s commitment to providing an exceptional and informative experience. Along with seven other students, we started the day with an office tour and a presentation introducing Oliver Wyman and the consulting industry. The office environment was much more casual than I had expected, and we saw a lot of consultants lively chatting with one another, enjoying a quick break or snack, and generally in a good mood. They seemed happy to be at Oliver Wyman, and the atmosphere was very welcoming.
We met with alum Kirk Saari ’99 and a handful of other alums who talked about their experiences with Oliver Wyman, and the different practice areas and projects they have worked on. Another alum walked us through the interview process for potential candidates and ran a mock case interview with us. The most enlightening part of this Princeternship was the round table and networking lunch. We got to probe deeper into the consultants’ experiences and got some candid career advice. It was pretty clear that it takes a certain type of personality to enjoy management consulting, and everyone was very clear in emphasizing that this job is not for everyone. They discussed the highlights and the challenges of their jobs, ranging from the variety of projects, interaction with personnel from other companies, and their hours. Overall, it was a great day, and I urge anyone who is curious about consulting, but may not quite understand what it is, to participate in the Princeternship Program.