Larissa Lieberson, Plural Strategy Intern in New York, is interviewed by Matt Vellacott
Can you tell us a little about you?
Sure! I’m a senior at Washington University in St Louis. I’m majoring in maths with a concentration in statistics, and minoring in marketing and writing. I graduate in May 19.
What work experience did you have before you came to Plural?
My internship the summer before was at New York Life Insurance, where I was doing marketing and shadowing actuaries to see if I’d be interested. I realise the culture wasn’t for me and I needed something smaller, more forward-thinking and collaborative. During the last academic year, I also did an on-campus internship at a tech start-up, which reaffirmed that I was looking for a small company spirit.
Why did you decide to apply?
I thought consulting would be a good fit for my mix of marketing, quantitative and people skills. I wanted to develop my technical skills in Excel and other programs, and see how a consulting project works from start to finish.
I liked that Plural focuses on certain sectors. In my opinion, the traditional industries that a lot of consultancies focus on are more rigid, while events lend themselves to interesting and unique projects. The size of the company was also really cool. And because I grew up in London, I liked the idea of working with colleagues and clients in the UK while living in New York City. That global perspective appealed to me.
What was life like as in intern at the firm?
Interns definitely get the chance to make a difference at Plural. On my second day I was asked if I wanted to go on a business trip and on my third day we flew out to Texas. I was trusted to talk on behalf of Plural and interview people at the conference, which was amazing hands-on experience.
Day-to-day, there was a lot of in-depth desk research for the two projects I worked on. That meant looking at market sizing and costs, trying to find past numbers from data and using Excel to predict where those numbers were going to go. It’s a good idea to have Excel skills when you arrive, but the team trained me and Mo (the other intern) in think-cell, so we could create sleek and creative graphs. We also learned an Excel add-on called Fuzzy Lookup.
Going into the internship, I had no idea what steps a project includes. But now I understand the life cycle, especially for mergers and acquisitions, which is really useful.
How would you describe the culture and atmosphere?
The office atmosphere was my favourite part. Everyone was extremely intelligent and diligent but also sympathetic to the needs of others. That meant they were understanding if a deadline was hard to make, or if a piece of data was difficult to find.
Teams had multiple tiers of leadership, so analysts could learn from their more senior colleagues, while managers could use their experience to help others. The open-seating arrangement in the New York office also made it extremely collaborative, and I was never afraid to ask questions. We’d all get lunch together and knew each other in a business and a friendly context. I actually shed tears leaving everyone!
What do you miss now you’ve left?
I miss the people and the energy of the group. It made me realise that whatever job I do, I want to be surrounded by people I like. I hadn’t really thought about that before.
Would you recommend an internship at Plural?
Definitely. It’s a great way to find out more about consulting, but also to learn about various industries and work directly on client projects. And unlike with internships at larger companies, you feel like part of the team at Plural, not an intern. Your work is valued and actually gets presented to clients.