Linea Bingel and Menghua Prisse on their internship at SparkOptimus

02 December 2021 5 min. read

When considering a career in management consulting, one of the best ways to evaluate the possible options is to do an internship. Menghua Prisse and Linea Bingel spoke to about what they learned as associate interns at the digital strategy consultancy SparkOptimus.

Menghua Prisse is a Master’s student with the Technische Universiteit Delft. Having just completed her first year of a post-graduate degree in Engineering & Policy Analysis, she decided the time was right to build some work experience and put her new knowledge into practice. This intention quickly drew her to the world of digital strategy consulting, as while technology continues to change so quickly, the industry is at the heart of helping clients get the most out of new ideas and digital products.

Prisse explained, “It’s ever-changing and there’s a lot going on, things that initially made me check out the sector, after which SparkOptimus stood out due to its international character, while always being on the forefront of the disruption. When meeting with SparkOptimus, it always felt like I was being welcomed into a big group of friends, while also working on projects across the globe.”

Menghua Prisse and Linea Bingel, SparkOptimus

Fellow associate intern Linea Bingel joined SparkOptimus on similar grounds. Having just finished a Bachelor’s in Economics and Business Administration in Tübingen, Southern Germany, she had majored in accounting and finance, while also studying modules in philosophy and psychology. Keen to put both economic and social knowledge to good use, the consulting sector stood out as an obvious next port of call.

Bingel noted, “SparkOptimus stood out to me for their value-based principles and guidelines that frame the work among each other – in my opinion, the basis for everything else. SparkOptimus combines in this respect internationally outstanding competence with humanity; something I have seen very little in this form elsewhere.”

Having joined in September, the first two months of Bingel and Prisse’s tenure with SparkOptimus have very much lived up to their expectations. In particular, the friendly environment has made it easy for both of them to settle into life back in the office. Bingel – who relocated from Germany to Amsterdam during her time with SparkOptimus – said that “the colleagues have made this journey really comfortable for me. Today I already feel very much settled.”

Diverse experiences

As is often noted by graduates and interns converging on the industry, consulting is notorious for its steep learning curve, and wide-ranging workload. This attracts those approaching the end of their academic journey, as it presents an opportunity to continue developing their skills, while also helping them identify a particular niche they would like to build a career in for the long-term.

The responsibilities of interns with SparkOptimus are in line with this reputation, according to Bingel. Noting that interns are “highly valued members of the team,” she elaborated that “from day one, you are involved in exciting projects and are integrated by the team openly and warmly.”

Linea worked for the food category of a globally leading FMCG player. Expanding on what her work has entailed, she went on, “I have so far done research, market analyses, consolidation of content on presentation slides, but also a lot of data analysis and brainstorming sessions with colleagues.”

Besides that, “I really enjoy the conversations in the office that take place away from blackboards and meeting rooms. The small talk over a cup of coffee or a private talk during the lunch break.”

Up to speed

To help new team-members adapt to this fast-paced and diverse workload, Prisse noted that SparkOptimus deploys a host of support measures. All new joiners receive the same onboarding and guidance. Compared to other associates, interns get similar responsibilities and are able to attend all training sessions as well.

This helps them to “get a proper understanding of what working here would look like.” Before starting, Prisse had expressed interest in focusing on a data-driven way of working, so for her first project she was added to a team to fulfil the role of business and data analyst.

She added, “For my new project I’ll be working on a company’s digital strategy with a small due diligence included. Besides the assigned projects, I also helped with some non-client related activities, as planning the annual office trip – every year SparkOptimus spends a weekend together to share last year’s learnings, discuss improvements for clients and have some fun. A great way to reconnect, reflect and get the spirits up!”

On top of this, Prisse mentioned that simply “asking for feedback has always worked in my favour.” Interns are encouraged to indicate what their learning goals are and how they want to work on them, to receive unique coaching in this way. At the same time, “one-on-one meetings regarding this have helped me grow comfortable in my role as associate intern, steering me in the right direction when I was a little lost.”

SparkOptimus encourages interns to “contribute to the topics and to address individual skills as well.”

Bingel concluded, “initially, for example, an overview of personal interests and skills is filled out for the whole team in order to plan the next few weeks in terms of work-life balance, but also to take individual strengths and learning goals into account – an incredibly efficient approach in the area of personal development. That is exactly why I can already say that I have been able to learn so much about myself in addition to the professional component.”