Sunday, August 8, 2010

Internship is almost over....

...or is it. My internship was originally scheduled to end in 2 weeks, and that would have left me with 3 weeks before the next quarter begins to visit friends and family, work on the side project that I've struggled to find time for, and go on a vacay with the girlfriend. Those plans have recently changed because I was asked to stay on for another 2 weeks.

At the beginning of the internship they asked about our willingness to do extensions, so I don't think it's an isolated incident, but I'm still taking it as a positive forward indicator. Although I'll now have less downtime, I think that the added experience (and income) will more than make up for it.

On the experience front, I've gotten to a nice point where I'm no longer as bogged down trying to figure out my way around the firm, how to do things, etc. That means that I'm able to focus more on personal development, which I've found comes both directly from the work/feedback and indirectly from observation. It's amazing how much you can pick up by watching the more experienced folks and noting how output is changed during the refinement process.

I've spent most of my summer doing quantitative analysis, which of course means plenty of Excel time, but some of the other interns have had very different experiences. A few haven't had to spend more than a few hours in Excel the whole summer. It all depends on the kind of case that you are assigned to, and within that case, the work stream that you are on. If you do find yourself working in Excel, here are some of the things that I think are worth having in your toolbox:
  • Regression analysis - don't sweat if you've never done this before, because you'll get plenty of experience with it in the core DECS-434 course (so pay attention in that class)
  • Pivot tables - I was able to familiarize myself with this awesome tool in MKTG-450 when we were analyzing our consumer research data for the group project
  • Data tables - Great for "what if" analysis (probably why it is under that menu in excel), such as finding the result to an equation if one of the variables takes on a value within a given range
  • vlookup - This command in excel makes it much easier to find specific pieces of information, which is helpful when you are looking at data sets with 10,000+ values
  • sumproduct - Comes in handy for doing weighted averages
  • Dynamic ranges via offset + counta - This is easily my favorite set of commands for the summer. If you are running any sort of calculation on a range of data that could change (either from adding or removing entries), this will automatically recalculate the size of the range. So, instead of doing something like sum(A4:A10), you could do something like sum(offset(A4,0,0,counta($A:$A),1) and it would automatically expand or contract the range. It may sound pretty dull, but it has saved me a ton of time. The less elegant way is to put in a larger range, like sum(A4:A500), but then you have to keep track of them in case you go over.
  • ctrl+shift+enter array commands - Again, useful for doing calculations on an array of information
  • Keyboard shortcuts to navigate and fill blocks of information, like ctrl+R and ctrl+ARROWKEY
This is by no means an exhaustive set of the things you'll need, but I think it is a pretty nice starting point.


  1. Congrats on the 2 week extension and nice tips on the excel.

    I'd be curious to hear what kind of feedback you've gotten (for a sense of what other interns hear) but I suppose it's harder to put that on a public blog.

  2. Thanks!

    I'm happy to share some of my feedback. The main piece was around stepping back and considering the big picture. Unfortunately, I let myself get too bogged down in the details from time to time, and I end up spending too much time on a piece of analysis that is purely directional.

    I've also gotten feedback on client interaction and data presentation (powerpoint).