Virtual work experience in sustainability consulting: PhD student Katya’s story!

186 students took part in our second round of King’s Insights Projects. The Shared Value project was a 2-week virtual internship, as part of a team of students working with an industry client. Read more about how Katya describes her experience on the programme!

A fruitful and transformative experience

Hi, I’m Katya, a final-year history PhD candidate with a strong interest in sustainability consulting.

At first, I was a bit hesitant before applying to join the Consultancy Insights Project organised by King’s Internships. I wondered how much I could realistically learn or achieve in just two weeks. I guess the fact that I’m a PhD student reveals that I do like extensive, scrupulously in-depth work.

To my surprise, the programme proved to be a fruitful and transformative experience. I learned that in a fast-paced business environment, delivering meaningful results quickly is perfectly plausible – and in fact, necessary. I also found the task exciting and ended up greatly enjoying the programme.


What we worked on

My team consisted of five PhD students, all equally curious and motivated. We were originally meant to be a team of six, but one colleague had to drop out just before the starting date. Luckily, this setback was quickly overcome. In the spirit of adaptability, we found a way to distribute the tasks among the five of us.

Our Client was a leading UK charity, and the brief centred on finding new private sector partners for them. To identify suitable companies and design a promising pitch for each of them, we researched the corporate social responsibility strategies of UK businesses. Each of us contributed in a way that was congruent with our academic expertise and/or professional interests. Therefore, our report covered multiple sectors including consultancy, construction, defence, insurance, pharmaceutical and IT.


Reflecting on the challenges

The deadlines were tight, including a draft report after just five days and a final report on the Friday of the second week. However, the organisers and the team members created a friendly environment, setting clear and reasonable expectations.

The Client played a crucial role, providing helpful feedback on the draft report. We also arranged an extra meeting with them to ensure that we could develop our output in the most useful way over the remaining time. It was essential to find the right balance between improving the insights already presented in the draft report and adding new materials to expand the scope.


How did the experience develop our employability?

My team and I got to enhance our skills including teamwork, non-academic research, time management, and on the more technical side, Microsoft Excel. At the same time, we enjoyed the chance to make a valuable contribution to a charity. It was also great to find out from the organisers at King’s Internships that we were among the top teams, having received a 100% score from the Client on our final report.

Overall, despite its brevity, this experience was fun and useful. Therefore, I highly recommend the consultancy insights programme to any postgraduate student interested in a ‘real-world’ career.