As the first three weeks of the internship come to a close, I thought I’d reflect on the experience so far. So, through the eyes of someone with no exposure to business through either my own experience or that of close friends and family, this is my take on it...
The first thing that struck me (and this dates back to the assessment centre) was how friendly and unintimidating both the people and the buildings themselves were. When it comes to business, an unavoidable image in the media is groups of angry suits sat miserable in cold, bland boardrooms, but as soon as those elevator doors opened and I was met with funky angled walls and blues and purples, I knew that this wouldn’t even be close. Everyone I’ve met so far has only strengthened this view. I am yet to meet your stereotypical businessperson. The people are varied and interesting, and maybe most importantly, welcoming. One of the best things about Baringa in my opinion is that no one introduces themselves by role; you could be talking to a partner for an hour and not ever realise it, which I love. I feel so valued – even as an intern, I am equal.
As far as the work goes, there was one huge hurdle I had to overcome before I understood anything at all, and I don’t think this is uncommon: acronyms. Once you’ve been immersed in the business world for even just a short time, they become second nature – you don’t even notice you’re using them. But coming from the outside in, it’s all you notice! I remember my despair when the intro pack that my project manager (PM) sent me contained a slide where the acronym:word ratio must have been 1:1. The issue comes when you don’t know which acronyms are project-specific, which are industry-specific, and which are standard business acronyms that ‘you should know’. Definitely to my own benefit, I decided to ignore the existence of the latter and ask for a translation of every single one I came into contact with!
The most surprising thing I’ve learned about consulting so far is that one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is finding data in the first place. My first discrete piece of work was a benchmarking piece on the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) energy market. The brief was to find data on the market, analyse it, and present my findings in a PowerPoint. I was baffled when I was given a week – how on Earth was this going to take more than a day?! An hour or so for the analysis, a couple of hours for the pack, jobs a good’un! I was so, so wrong… I spent the first 4 days genuinely thinking I would be presenting a blank PowerPoint. The data did not exist. I didn’t want to disappoint my PM on the first task she’d given me so I began to panic. But, after thinking a bit out of the box and drawing from the knowledge within Baringa already, I managed to put together a pack that I was really quite proud of. It’s ended up being one of the most satisfying pieces of work I’ve done – on par with solving a really difficult maths problem even!
All in all, this experience has been both nothing like I expected and exactly what I hoped it would be all at the same time. I’ve had the chance to influence a huge energy company, experience a city and a lifestyle I never thought I would, and met some of the most incredible people I have so far – all in the first three weeks! I can’t wait to see what else will come my way this summer.