Gage Kaefring is a rising MBA2 and is spending the summer with the Project Portfolio Management consulting team at EY (formerly Ernst & Young). At Stern, Gage serves as the co-president of OutClass, the LGBTQ student group on campus, and as the VP of Marketing for Stern Chats, the Stern podcast. He is specializing in Leadership, Strategy, and Analytics.
NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.
The first thing I think about when I reflect back on my summer internship experience was just how quickly the time passed. My internship as a consultant in the New York office at EY was initially full of the ups and downs one would expect from starting any new job. The conclusion however, would be a dramatic demonstration of the trials consultants are often forced to confront.
As part of their summer internship, EY includes an industry research component in which teams present to senior partners on the best strategy for EY to maintain and grow a specific client relationship. My team selected a media company from the Technology, Media, and Telecomm (TMT) space and got to work — researching the industry and building a solid presentation — on top of our required client work. The presentation would be given to a group of partners at an all-day event in Chicago at the conclusion of the internship.
When the time to present arrived, I was set to travel from my client in New Jersey to Chicago the day before, and would meet the rest of my team in-person for the first time to run through our presentation. The weather had other plans. Severe thunderstorms struck the New York area in the early afternoon and, at the urging of my team, I proactively switched my flight to depart at 6 AM the next morning, the same flight booked by one of my other team members. The two of us would still arrive with plenty of time to rehearse with the rest of the team that afternoon. It turned out to be the right move as the thunderstorms only grew worse and my original flight ended up being cancelled hours after I made the switch.
I awoke at 4 AM the next morning feeling confident in my maneuvering to secure a perfectly timed flight despite the inclement weather. This confidence was dashed around 4:50 AM when I received an email from the teammate traveling with me and another from the airline shortly after, informing me that this flight too had been cancelled with no specified reason. I arrived at the airport shortly after my coworker finished speaking with a gate agent. Apparently all flights out of the New York area airports had been cancelled until Sunday.
We were at a loss trying to determine how we were going to make the presentation. Thinking fast, I realized the only way was to book a flight from Philadelphia. There happened to be one that would put us in Chicago without any time to spare so, lacking options, we booked it. After a three hour Lyft ride and a hurried airport breakfast, we boarded and landed in Chicago a mere hour before we were scheduled to present. We hurried through O’Hare and secured another Lyft. Our team was frantically texting us both and preparing for the possibility that we wouldn’t make it in time.
We very nearly didn’t. It was a race against time from the airport to the event space EY had rented for the day. We arrived with seconds to spare and were ushered with our team on-stage. The only review we had done was on the airplane and in the Lyft. But standing on stage, in front of four, stern-faced partners, it all seemed to click. Our presentation flowed and each team member fielded the judges’ questions with poise.
At the end of our presentation we sat down, sharing congratulations at successfully getting through a presentation we were thrown into without any preparation. Much to the surprise of each and every member of our team, our presentation was recognized as one of the best-in-class. The whole experience served as a perfect parable for the entire consulting experience: a group of dedicated people battling fate and the elements to deliver for their clients.