By Nahiyan Khan, Intern, Monitor Deloitte
My journey as an intern started back in December 2018, alone with my laptop and wavering confidence, fuelled by the daunting stories from my peers about the hundreds of internships they had applied to and the succession of rejections they seemed to get like some sort of corporate ‘tinder’. This, coupled with my third year dissertation constantly on my mind, meant that I didn’t have the most motivated mind set. Still, I remember deciding to apply to one last internship before retiring for the day - Monitor Deloitte. This choice came from a mixture of wanting to get an insight into what strategy consulting actually does, and hearing about Deloitte as a great place for a new graduate to start their career. First would come the immersive online assessment, followed by the job simulation and then, if successful, the final assessment (see Figure 1).
The first step, the immersive online assessment went well. This was followed by an invite to the interactive job simulation, which incorporated a webcam and multiple questions – ranging from my motivations for applying, to my capabilities in handling and analysing data. The advice I received from my peers was to be myself, have a bottle of water at hand, make sure to breathe, and not to bother wearing any trousers as the webcam only covers the top half of the body! I listened to three of these pieces of advices, and quickly regretted not keeping a bottle of water nearby.
Much to my delight I received an invite to the final assessment, which involved a group exercise and interview. At this point, I was still very cautious as I had already had a previous interview prior which didn’t go very well. In my defence, that was my first ever interview, so I had very little idea about what to expect or how to perform, and it clearly showed. Luckily, the interviewers at Deloitte were much more approachable, made me feel a lot more comfortable and encouraged me to be myself. As a second interview, I was happy with how it went and pleasantly surprised with the overall day, already feeling like I had improved upon my first experience.
The company I had my first interview with had a similar approach to Deloitte for confirming the result of the assessment – a single phone call that could come at any time. Needless to say, I carried my phone around with me at all times, even more so than usual, checking every 10 minutes to see if I had missed a call. When the phone call came, I was already expecting a repeat of the first time: a call that would end in condolences, apologies and misery. Instead, I received a call carrying congratulations rather than commiserations!
Fast forward to the week beginning 1st of July, and the start of the internship. Our first week was filled with presentations, with our work allocations given to us on the Tuesday. I was allocated to the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, a research team supporting Deloitte’s life sciences and health care practice. This seemed quite fitting as I had once attempted to pursue a career in medicine and come from a family of pharmacy graduates and doctors. My task was to help the Centre with researching their thought leadership reports, specifically, a series of reports focused on how artificial intelligence (AI) is changing and re-shaping the pharmaceutical value chain (from drug discovery and clinical trials, to post launch surveillance and patient support).
To get an idea of how these reports are written, I had a look at some of the Centre’s previous publications. Initially, it seemed quite daunting as I had never thought that I would be contributing to, much less helping write something of such high calibre. There was also a suggestion that I might produce a blog, which I could never see myself doing in a million years! But these were all opportunities that I couldn’t let go to waste.
From the outset, my main focus was on drug discovery, which included company research, analysis of market data and assessing the impact of changing regulations. One of the main things I learnt is to expand my research and see everything from a wider perspective. For instance, I found some information regarding regulation changes in the US, which by itself, didn’t mean much; but after more in-depth research I could see all the knock-on effects that it had on a global scale. Indeed, I quickly realised this had far greater importance than I had understood at first glance. By the end of my assignment, I had developed a high level of curiosity and an interest in finding the most obscure pieces of information that also had the biggest impact. It had become like a treasure hunt, sifting through an ocean of information, trying to find something that shines more than everything else. Or if that analogy isn’t for you, I had become like Gollum on a search for his ’Precious’, not stopping even if it meant falling into the fires of Mount Doom!
After a few weeks of research, we had enough information to begin drafting, which involved me writing up an analysis of the geographical impact of AI in pharma. At first I found it slightly challenging, reminding me of the difficult dissertation I had to write in my last year of University. However, when I found myself in this time of trouble, my supervisor came to me, speaking words of wisdom, “make it flow properly”. Once structured properly, everything fell into place and became far more enjoyable and easier to write. It wasn’t a long piece, around 900 or so words, but I was proud because it was mine.
Overall, the transition from academia to the workplace has been a lot easier than I had imagined. As a Chemistry graduate, my analytical skills have proved particularly useful, given much of research was gathering and extracting relevant data from a plethora of sources, similar to my dissertation, with over 50 references. This experience has helped me look forward to a future beyond education, and enabled me to develop some of the skills I need to flourish as a consultant. These include the ability to adapt to a new industry, work constructively within a team and produce an engaging presentation. My subsequent intern assessment subsequently tested these skills, both in my presentation on my experience and the partner interview. These assessments, alongside feedback from my work experience, was used to determine whether I earn a place on the Graduate programme in a year’s time.
When I look back to the start of my internship, I was nervous and unsure about how well I would fit in with everyone else, but the stereotype of consultants as an army of workers, all copies of each other, was completely shattered within my first few days. Working with my team has shown me how human everyone is, and how enjoyable this “corporate” environment can be. This whole experience has just been amazing, and I feel very privileged to be one of the 15 applicants that made it through the internship.