These two consultants don’t regret anything: Kay Schultze and Benedikt Junker from Cologne started their career at Simon-Kucher with an internship a few years ago. We met with the travel and sports enthusiasts to look back on their journey to Simon-Kucher. We discuss how quickly an internship can turn into a job and what they are doing nowadays.
Benedikt, how did you become an intern at Simon-Kucher?
Benedikt: Ever since my A-levels, I've had a great interest in marketing. I was mainly interested in strategic aspects of "market-oriented management" and less in the area of communication or advertising. I was looking for an exciting challenge and so when I found out about the internship program at Simon-Kucher, I didn’t have to think twice. As a strategic management consultancy specializing in pricing, Simon-Kucher was a very compelling opportunity for me.
How was the application process?
Benedikt: Pretty smooth – I sent in my application and after a few days, I received the online link to take the short analytics test and then the invitation to an interview. First of all, you are asked to share your interests, meaning which industries you find the most exciting and which departments and locations you would prefer for your internship. Additionally, you will have to prepare your answers to two short questions in English which may be asked during the interviews. You will then have two interviews where you will have to solve one case in each as well as get to know your interviewer personally. If you have convinced both of your interviewers, the internship offer will usually follow within a few days.
Kay, which type of projects can you expect to experience during the internship?
Kay: You can expect exciting challenges in international teams. I completed my internship in the Life Sciences division in Cologne and was able to support two projects of a leading international medical technology company.
At Simon-Kucher, interns are valued as fully-fledged team members, especially because many colleagues used to be interns themselves. So on my very first day, I found myself in a conference room with my four international colleagues discussing how to best proceed with the project.
What were your tasks?
Kay: My tasks covered pretty much every step of the project: from support in initial strategic considerations including customer workshops, to preparation and independent execution of qualitative interviews, to data evaluation. Eventually, we provided the client with a concrete recommendation on the pricing and positioning of a medical product within their portfolio. A highlight for me was the focus group with stakeholders from German hospitals, which I was allowed to co-moderate in Berlin.
You learn a lot, especially because you always have the opportunity to ask colleagues about their projects and experiences over lunch or an after-work beer in the kitchen on Fridays (in Cologne, of course, with the traditional Kölsch).
How long is the internship and what happens afterwards?
Kay: The minimum duration for an internship is ten weeks. Those who have performed above-average in their internship and are about to complete their studies have the possibility of being referred for "fast track", Simon Kucher’s talent program. Then you have just one more interview with a partner, which is more of a personality check. If this is successful, you can look forward to a permanent job offer at Simon-Kucher after graduation – a fast track to join Simon-Kucher full-time without having to apply again.
What about you, Benedikt? Did you join us directly after your Bachelor's degree?
Benedikt: At first I had planned to start a Master's program directly after the internship. However, the internship turned out to be a great opportunity and the partner I worked with convinced me that joining Simon-Kucher directly after my degree was worthwhile. So about four weeks after my internship ended, I had the fast-track interview Kay talked about. It was mainly about my motivation and future goals. I was accepted just one hour after the interview.
A few years have passed since you joined. What is your experience like at Simon-Kucher now, Kay?
Kay: If I had to describe Simon-Kucher with human characteristics, the words “sympathetic”, “approachable” and “reliable expert” come to my mind. Accordingly, the personal touch is very important at Simon-Kucher. That's why I would recommend every applicant to be themselves from the very beginning.
Nowadays I'm managing the first projects by myself and have done a number of projects on exciting, diverse topics – for example in the field of digital health.
And what has changed for you in the meantime, Benedikt?
Benedikt: I implemented my plan to pursue a Master's degree and after two years on the job I went back to university. Now I'm about to graduate in Business Administration at the University of Cologne with a focus on marketing. Simon-Kucher has supported me with a scholarship, while I continued to work 40 hours per month as a consultant.
This is a really great initiative. I was able to divide my working hours flexibly based on ad hoc assignments and continue to stay in touch with important contacts within my Simon-Kucher network. After my graduation, I will start working full-time as a consultant again.
Is there anything else you would like to do besides consulting work, Kay?
Kay: I want to continue to explore and travel the world, maybe even within Simon Kucher’s rotation program. After two years, employees have the opportunity to switch offices for some time or even help establish a new location. Rotating to San Francisco, for example, is always highly sought after.
Thank you both for sharing your story with us!