Master of Management student Kylie Zhang rounded out her studies with an internship at SJS Strategy, and gained valuable professional experience.
In August of 2020, the first university-sourced Business and Economics Internship subject experience began with three students at SJS Strategy, a boutique scenario planning consultancy firm.
Initially, my personal expectations of the role were to work on a research project, understand the context and provide recommendations – similar to many university consulting projects. However, at SJS Strategy, the variability of the role was incredibly different to other experiences – interns communicated directly with directors, took part in client-facing work with multinational corporations, and regularly contributed to discussing strategies for inhouse business development. The role – Consultant and Marketing Officer – required high flexibility in skills, with tasks ranging from creating presentations and excel data organisation, to website and brand design.
The program was overseen by the two directors and featured frequent interaction with other colleagues in marketing, as the role started to include more tasks in that area. Timewise, we spent around 8 to 12 hours each week on the activities, including multiple meetings. This ramped up to two working days during peak periods.
The most challenging aspect of this role was understanding and matching the expectations of the directors whilst operating in a virtual environment. Our ability to demonstrate the different elements of a project were constrained to online meetings and phone calls. The loss of in-person contact in a professional services role has highlighted to me the importance of face-to-face communication, through exercises such as brainstorming and collaborative discussion sessions.
In this program, each member of the three-person internship cohort had the opportunity to lead a phase of the project. Being the first phase leader, I aimed to set the pace, creating a digital schedule, confirming points of contact and communication channels with SJS Strategy, and managing project parameters – much like the first steps of any consulting role or project. Because of this internship experience, having been through a leadership role in consulting greatly boosts my confidence in building my career in the industry.
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Upon completion of the internship, the new employability skills and professional experience gained led each team member to open the doors to other projects. For example, I progressed to complete a consulting project for GHD Global Engineering, as well as extending my branding and marketing skills to pursue side projects. Furthermore, during the two review sessions held by the directors over the semester, I was able to clearly understand my strengths, build key skills, and receive invaluable feedback on my developing competencies, which was a highlight of the experience.
The experience at SJS Strategy made this one of my most interesting and educational semesters, and I would like to thank those at SJS Strategy: Synth, Sander and Caroline, as well as my internship colleagues Dharaa and Sanjeev for helping create such a memorable time. I would like to also thank Sharon Soltys at the University for all the support and advice given to us students, and the whole of Melbourne Business School for the opportunity.
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