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!