Isaac Murphy Summer Experience

A Day in the Life of Isaac Murphy: Summer Consultant at BCG

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I was one of the lucky few to secure an internship at BCG for summer 2018.  Prior to business school I worked as an engineer and production supervisor at a medical device company, and I honestly hadn’t even heard of consulting until I started applying to schools.  But once I learned that consulting was a thing – and that one could make money at it – I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue. 

Heading into the summer I felt that recruiting had prepared for all of the “bad” or “difficult” aspects of consulting: long hours, delayed flights, crunched timelines, direct feedback.  Some of these were definitely corroborated.  But in my experience they were overshadowed by the good aspects of consulting: impactful work, intellectual breadth and depth, and teamwork, to name a few.  That said, I learned a lot over the ten weeks of my internship, and to give you a taste of what it was like here an example of a day in my life.

Starting the Day out Right

On most days I met my team in the hotel lobby at 7:30 a.m. and we carpooled to the client site.  Once at the client, we would walk up two flights of stair to the team room to drop off our bags, then march three flights down to the café to grab breakfast, then trudge the three flights back to eat in the team room.  Was there an elevator? Yes, but we were dedicated to maintaining our cardiac health.  Panting and sweating, I would eat my breakfast and prepare for the day.

Begin with the End in Mind

Our first team huddle was at 8:00 a.m.  These were quick 15 minute meetings at the beginning and end of each day where we each talked about what we would accomplish over the next eight hours.  As an intern, this was a great time to give the team due warning of what I would be asking of them throughout the day. 

For the next four hours I was in the zone, cranking out excel models and slides. Due to the speed at which we worked and reviewed content, I found it necessary to frequently step back and ask myself, “What does my deliverable need to look like at the end of the hour?” and “What data sources do I need to pull together to tell the story?”  This process of “beginning with the end in mind” proved an essential skill throughout the summer.

You Are What You Eat

Around noon we would break for lunch and repeat our multi-level march to and from the café.  Most of my teammates chose a healthy option, and for the first weeks of the internship I followed suit.  Salads, non-red meats, and water (plus the occasional caffeinated beverage) were my go-to staples.  But after a month of being hungry I decided that it was better to feel good than look skinny; a few more dollars each meal and my stomach was sated.

If You Don’t Meet With Your PL, They’re Worried

Every few days I would schedule an afternoon 1:1 with my Project Leader.  We would review my deliverable and align on how to proceed.  These meetings were often informal and instructive in nature, but they forced me to be purposeful in how I approached my work stream.  They also helped erase any concerns that my PL had that I was working on the wrong thing, which, due to how quickly we worked, was a justifiable concern.

The Work Goes On

In general the afternoon was much like the morning.  My particular work stream was very self-driven so I didn’t have a lot of distractions, and my mentality for the 2nd half of the day was to get enough done so that I didn’t have to work at the hotel.  Around 5:00 p.m. we would have our second team huddle and align on what we were doing for the rest of the day.

The Surest Way Build a Team is Through Its Stomach

Between 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. we would wrap up in the team room and carpool back to the hotel.  We had a team norm to eat at least one dinner per week together, so often the interns (me and one other) had to find places to go.  We got to explore a lot of the city this way and eat a lot of good food. 

These dinners proved to be a great way to learn about BCG and life as a consultant.  Each of my colleagues led interesting lives and it was fun to talk with them about the job and how they felt about it.  Later on, these definitely helped form my decision to stay at BCG.

Know Thyself

After the team dinner it was usually after 8:00 p.m.  Now, if during the evening team huddle I had put my foot in my mouth and over-promised, I would spend the next 2-3 hours on my computer working.  However, I found that the hours between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. were pretty important to maintain equilibrium.  So, after a few weeks, I made sure to exercise during this time.  This also helped justify the larger lunches I started eating partway through the summer.

Bedtime was usually between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, which meant that I usually worked a little right before going to sleep.

Interns with Benefits

Twins Stadium

It is probably worthwhile to also talk about Fridays.  Fridays at the office were definitely more relaxed than the Monday-Thursday routine, but there were fewer distractions so I still got a lot done.  Being based in a smaller office (Minneapolis) meant that I got to know most of my colleagues, so it was a good time to catch up with people.

But also…

Nearly every Friday afternoon was used to host intern events.  My office averaged at least one event per week for all ten weeks of the internship, including an office-wide retreat and several sporting events.  All of these events were a blast, but I admit that as the summer went on… they got to be a little tiring. 

In Conclusion

A day in the life of a BCG Summer Intern is perhaps as varied as the lives of individual people.  I mean sure, we are all similar in that we’re kind of A-type workaholics.  But given that, this job and lifestyle are what you make of it, so my advice is to approach the consulting job search and career creatively and with an internal locus of control.

I’m very excited to be returning to BCG full time.  The opportunities it provides – to work with big-name clients, to solve difficult problems, to learn and develop, to form great relationships with super-smart colleagues – is all part of what attracted me to management consulting in the first place.  I’m sure there will be trying times, but I believe I’m at the right firm to tackle them.

By Issac Murphy, Class of 2019