Two paddles splashed through the water, the curved blades mirroring each other’s motion. Left…right...left…right.
I sat behind Jake, my mentor, in a bright green two-person kayak. We worked together to travel swiftly through the water while taking in the sights around us.
On this particular day, ZS’s Midwest interns and their mentors were taking a break from their typical project work to spend an afternoon on the Chicago River getting a guided tour of the city’s history and iconic architecture.
There were a few people who had never kayaked before and the whole group came together to help them, making sure to reel them in if they ever got out too far. There was also a friendly battle to be at the front of the group, with paddles and hands used to jockey for position.
I ended the day a little wetter than I started it, but I found the experience to be symbolic of ZS’s culture. We have a collaborative environment, and our firm is full of driven people. And our kayaking adventure wasn’t the only memorable experience I had during my internship so far.
I remember in elementary school my mother would pack my lunches in brown paper sacks, so I was a little surprised when I saw “Brown Bag Presentation” appear on my calendar. I later came to find out “Brown Bags” are a forum for idea-sharing and learning at ZS.
The North American interns recently attended one of these informative presentations with Amy, a principal in the Evanston office, to learn about ZS’s work in the Customer Insights solution area. I was really excited to learn more about the many industries ZS’s touches with our work in this area.
We also spent time improving our presentation skills. Andy, an associate principal in the Evanston office, asked us to prepare a four- to five-minute speech for a development session called “Speaking with Impact”. Inspired by the kayaking event, I prepared a presentation that covered my experience abroad as a medical engineering exchange student at Swansea University in Wales, where I had the opportunity to kayak in the fjords of Norway.
We presented on our chosen topic to a group of interns and other ZSers while our phone cameras captured our strengths and weaknesses. The group provided feedback on areas where we could improve and we went through various activities to work on our individual pain points.
In an industry like consulting where communication is a key skill, this experience provided a tremendous opportunity to start thinking more proactively about what we could do better. I’m looking forward to incorporating the feedback into my work going forward.
This post was written by Nikhil, a rising senior studying bioengineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He is a strategy insights and planning associate intern in ZS’s Chicago office. In his free time, he enjoys reading, cycling, and travel.