Nera Case Study Interview

Application

I applied through college or university. The process took 2+ months. I interviewed at NERA Economic Consulting (New York, NY) in October 2017.

Interview

First Round:
Half-hour video chat with a current research associate, with questions about research experience and technical skills. If you have a few research papers and know some programming you should be fine.
I was notified I was moving to the next round within a few days following the interview, and was asked to provide a writing sample and two letters of recommendation prior to interview #2.

Second Round/Superday:
(On-Site - Antitrust) I interviewed with 4-5 members of the firm, each for 30 minutes, including one managing director, one senior consultant, one senior analyst, and a couple of research associates. Each interview, excluding those with the the managing director and senior consultant, had a different theme. These included communication, leadership, teamwork, and analytic skills, and they expected a description of relevant experiences. The interviews with upper-management were a bit more conversational, and focused more on my personality and research experience. I did not receive any technical questions.

I did not hear anything for the company until 2 weeks following my interview, where they requested that I interview with a different sector in a new location (one more fitting to my expertise). My experience at that office was very similar to my previous second-round. I received my offer by phone on the evening of my interview day.

NERA Economic Consulting 2018-01-01 13:50 PST

Why do you think you were successful in applying for an internship?

I think it was a combination of my academic performance and being able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the application of economic principles on real world problems during the interview process.

What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?

Probably the case study interview. The questions really tested my understanding of economics and finance principles and the limits of their application in practice.

What sort of training did you receive?

NERA provides formal training courses in key areas for development, such as Excel modelling, communication skills and presentation skills, but the best way of learning is through working on client projects.

Did you work on a specific project?

I worked on a number of projects during my six-month internship. From the start, I was given the opportunity to take full responsibility for substantial elements of client projects, including initial research, subsequent analysis and the final presentation of the findings. For one of my first projects I put together a dividend growth model to estimate the cost of equity for regulated water companies. This was very exciting yet challenging too, as I was familiar with the underlying theory but had never done this type of analysis in practice before.

What sort of support did you receive?

I was supported by an experienced junior as well as more senior members of my team. They provided helpful guidance and prompted me to think about how to shape my analysis to meet client objectives.

Were you given regular feedback?

I was given regular feedback on my work as I progressed, which helped me to think critically about my analysis and its limitations, as well as how my work fits into the context of overall project and client objectives.

What skills did your internship equip you with?

I developed a range of technical skills, such as Excel modelling and working with Bloomberg, as well as soft skills such as communicating effectively with different audiences. I also learned to think critically about my work and not accept the validity of theories learned at university at face value.

Did you learn anything about consulting that surprised you?

I was surprised by the wide range of issues on which clients seek my employer’s expert economic advice. This variety is one of the key appeals of consulting as it allows you to explore new areas and acquire new skills continuously.

What advice would you give to students looking for consulting internships?

Think about the type of work you would like to do and find out where you could do it. Go to career fairs and talk to employers, research the internet, ask your friends and find something that you can be passionate about.

What advice would you give to interns who hope to receive a job offer at the end of their internship?

Use it as an opportunity to learn about the work you would do and find out if you would enjoy doing it in the long term. Internships are not just an opportunity for firms to find prospective employees but also an opportunity for graduates to find the right job/sector for them. If you are passionate about the work and have the skills to do it, employers will see it and appreciate it.

Zuzana was offered and accepted a full-time consultant role at the end of her internship.

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