This month we talked to Jay Harris, who has completed a 6-week work experience programme with us over the course of this summer. As a second year History student at Oxford Brookes University, Jay was eager to develop his knowledge and experience of both what an office environment in a consultancy firm would be like, and to improve his skills within this industry. His interview with Simplify displays the positive outcomes that we were hopeful he would obtain at the end of his internship.
Tell us how you came to Simplify Consulting and why you approached us?
A lack of expertise in this industry, and it being a career path that I could potentially pursue after the completion of my degree at Oxford Brookes, I knew any experience at all would be invaluable.
The primary reason I approached Simplify rather than other firms, was through the connection between my Uncle Pete and the Simplify team. After researching into Simplify, it was an easy judgement that this firm would provide me with the tools I was looking for. Initially, I was in contact with Matt, and I knew then that this would be a thoroughly professional environment with a knowledgeable team to offer me the right support, guidance, and experience.
What were your first impressions / first day like when you joined Simplify Consulting?
I was immediately welcomed by the team which helped to calm my nerves. It was a thoroughly professional but also positive environment to enter from the start. After the key deliverables were presented to me, it would be a lie to say that I was within my comfort zone. Completely new surroundings, alongside a type of work I had not undertaken before, was a little intimidating.
Although, I knew that as I progressed and became more familiar that I would be more relaxed. The warm first impressions I was shown from the team on my first day enabled me to settle in easily to an enjoyable working atmosphere. I cannot thank the team enough for being so patient with me and making me feel so welcome into a workforce which was clear only aspired for excellence.
What projects have you been working on during your 6 weeks with us?
Over the course of my time at Simplify, I have completed several tasks, most of which have directly contributed to the day-to-day actions of the business. The main tasks that have been undertaken are the production of correspondence templates to assist the formation of the Capability Model, converting associate CV’s into professional profiles, managing presentations, and helping to put together a quarterly newspaper.
Tell us what you have learned from your experience?
There has been a remarkable set of skills that I can take away from this internship, as well as a significantly greater understanding of both how a consultancy firm operates in practical terms, and a wider knowledge of the industry it sits within. My previous employment has proven to be incomparable with regards to the mental focus required to complete tasks that were completely unfamiliar to me when I first started.
I would say that one of the most integral learns when working at Simplify will be the improvement in my ability to adjust myself to environments and situations that I have not experienced before. This has also given me more confidence in relation to how I present myself within an established business that has highly skilled employees.
The development of my knowledge in this sector has also enabled me to not just sit back and listen but want to actively participate in business discussions with the team. Applying myself professionally to the work I have undertaken has made me realise that in the future I will be far more prepared if choosing to follow a career in this industry.
Have there been any challenges or successes that you would like to share?
Of course, there has been a healthy mixture of both. At the start, it was challenging to navigate through some of the software tools and platforms I had not been familiar with before. Various spreadsheets and newsletter software, for instance. However, this did allow for my IT skills to progress quickly enough to meet the required targets set out for me.
It might be surprising and ironic to think that younger people might not know how to use these types of technology, but the truth is, I have never needed to use these software tools. My academic study does not cater for these types of skills.
I have also faced challenges leading presentations to the Simplify team but with encouraging feedback this has enhanced my desire to improve in tasks that are unfamiliar to me, that I will likely face in the future.
Would you recommend this type of work experience to others and any advice you would give to young people looking to gain experience?
I would certainly recommend this type of experience to any young person who is willing to push themselves to develop greater knowledge and experience in this industry. As I said before, studying history, I did not have many skills that are required in a firm like Simplify, and it was really important to expand my expertise on different software and business-related terminology. So, when it comes to searching for a job after I finish my studies, I will not be starting from scratch any longer. Not to mention the appeal to future employers when my experience can be added to a CV.
Thank you to Jay for the discussion and sharing his thoughts and observations on the experience. We have really benefited from Jay’s contribution, not just for the work he has completed for us but for his positive attitude and willingness to learn, take on feedback and improve.