Tessa van der Meiden
Reading time: 9 min.
More than 6 months ago, David and Thomas started the Junior Analyst program at NewForesight. How did they experience it and what is it like to take the next step to the function of Analyst? I also asked them if they had any advice for future applicants.
Firstly, lets introduce you. What is your name and where do you live?
David: My name is David. I am from Denmark and have recently moved to Utrecht. I graduated last year with an M. Sc. in Agricultural Development from the University of Copenhagen.
Thomas: My name is Thomas, 25 years young. I grew up in the Netherlands and during the pandemic I moved to Amsterdam.
Why did you choose to join NewForesight Consultancy?
David: I joined NewForesight for several reasons. I am very interested in sustainable, market-led development, and this was the only place I found where all the theory and skills I have obtained in my studies would be put to direct use. Secondly, I got the feeling that the sky is the limit, and that I would not be held back by being a graduate in terms of taking on more responsibility. Finally, I did my Erasmus exchange in the Netherlands and have fond memories from that time. Moving to the Netherlands as an EU-citizen has been surprisingly easy, although I might be forced to eat my words when it’s time to do my taxes in half a year’s time.
Thomas: To explain that I need to take you on a small journey, back to when I finished my bachelor’s degree. I got very interested in questions around international development and wanted to see what working on development challenges was like, so I started an internship at the Centre for Promotion of Imports from developing countries (later to become a NewForesight client). Here I worked on various projects to improve capacity among exporting businesses in developing countries and make value chains more sustainable. I became fascinated by ways to measure the impact of such projects, which led me to do a master’s degree in development economics. During my studies I also delved into environmental sustainability issues and started to understand how they are inextricably linked to socio-economic development challenges. Next, I started an internship with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, researching the energy transition, climate change and how these are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. Then NewForesight came on my path which offered the perfect cocktail of the things that interest me: working on solving complex environmental and socio-economic sustainability challenges. Working with clients and stakeholders from the public and private sector and civil society seemed like a great way to start my professional career in sustainability!
Looking back; was the Junior Analyst program what you expected?
(e.g. did you face some challenges, did you get the working experience you expected)
David: Overall, I am happy with my time as a Junior Analyst. I appreciated the understanding attitude of the co-workers, as it made it less intimidating to ask questions and give a respective task a first shot before asking for guidance.
Despite COVID-19, I think the team did well in making my time as a Junior Analyst a good learning experience. Having said that, I would have preferred not to work remotely, as I often felt that I could have learned much more being around my co-workers, especially when it came to more advanced and technical skills, such as Excel-modelling.
Thomas: While I expected more responsibility than in my previous internships, you really are a full team member from day 1, working on projects together with more senior colleagues. For me this was both a challenge and an exciting opportunity. The fast pace and high quality of work can be overwhelming at times, but fortunately you are not expected to be able to do everything from day 1. Everyone is willing to help you learn and grow your skills. This makes it a unique opportunity to get valuable work experience while learning tons.
What are you most proud of, if you look back at the past 6 months?
David: A baseline impact evaluation we made for a global coffee trader. I was given a large amount of autonomy and responsibility in conducting the analyses, while at the same time getting just the right amount of support from my project manager.
Otherwise, I am proud of the efforts I brought towards networking on behalf of NewForesight. Sending cold emails and taking introductory calls with heads of sustainability, researchers, and even CEOs was at times nerve-wracking, but seeing one’s confidence slowly built was a great experience.
On a more personal-note, I am pleased with the way I handled starting a new job during COVID in a different country. It was not always pleasant, but it makes it that much sweeter to move here and getting to meet all my colleagues.
Thomas: I’m proud of the way I have managed to become part of the team, learn many new things, and contribute to a number of different projects, all while working from home and not meeting most of my colleagues in person. It was not easy to start a new job this way – especially during the winter months with the curfew in place – but luckily we can start going back to the office soon.
I’m also proud of the research I have done that formed the evidence base for some of the projects I worked on. Within a short time I managed to gain substantial expertise on topics such as sustainable sourcing, global nutrition challenges.
For those interested in applying for our next round of the Junior Analyst program, what advice would you give them for the interview process?
David: I think the most important thing is to be aware of the areas in which working for a consultancy sets itself apart from working in academia, thinktanks, NGOs or somewhere else. To thrive, you really need to be able to schedule your day and be able to switch between tasks efficiently. I did a master’s in Agricultural Development, and while the content did not change much going from studying to working at NewForesight, the pace and level of detail has changed considerably. I spent 9 months writing my thesis. Today, I could probably have done that in 4-6 weeks… Further, you are also expected to contribute to the company, whether that is through thinking about operations, content development etc. If you are only interested in research and analysis, and dread engaging with clients, perhaps a consultancy is not the right fit for you.
Thomas: Think about why you want to work at Newforesight. I think this is most important. What are your ideals? What are the topics you are interested in? What would you like to do on a day-to-day basis? What type of organization do you want to work at? Working at a consultancy is different from working for a government, NGO, private sector or in academia. You tend to work for a client, so you don’t always get to choose what you work on. But you get the opportunity to help clients think about and understand sustainability issues and come up with solutions, which is very cool. I don’t think you can find the diversity of clients and topics you work with at a consultancy so easily elsewhere.
At the same time, I think its good if you have an idea of the change you want to see in the world and let this guide the work you do. Lucas, our CEO, has a clear vision on how to transform markets to become more sustainable. Understanding the theory of change NewForesight uses will help you understand why we do what we do.
Now you are Analysts! In which domain do you work, and can you mention some tasks that you do as an Analyst?
David: I do most of my work in the Impact Analytics domain, which is arguably the most data-driven and quantitative domain of NewForesight. This suits me well, as I have always had an affinity for numbers, statistics, and programming.
Currently, I am in-between projects, so most of my work these weeks revolve around networking, including outreach, writing proposals, and identifying relevant project partners. In projects, I am mainly tasked with data collection, analysis, report-writing, and stakeholder validation.
Thomas: I’m working as an analyst in the Agriculture and Food Systems domain. We work on strategic and organizational questions. For example: how can companies or multi-stakeholder initiatives develop a sustainability strategy? And how can they organize themselves to maximize or scale up their sustainability impact?
I spend a lot of time doing desk research to gather evidence and use this to develop slides in PowerPoint (a year at NewForesight and you will be a PowerPoint wizard). In between will be meetings internally to brainstorm ideas on a whiteboard and meetings with clients to discuss progress of the project and receive feedback. At times, I have also done some stakeholder interviews.
What do you do to relax outside working hours? Or in (mini) breaks during the working day?
David: Since I only recently moved to the Netherlands, I am focusing on building a network. I am trying out for a Dutch volleyball team and have found a nice CrossFit box as well. Other than that, I like to go for a drink with my co-workers in one of the city’s charming bars. For work-day relaxation, a quick powernap after lunch does wonders for me.
Thomas: Sports help me relax and unwind after work, so I try to play squash at least twice a week. I also enjoy socializing, so I cannot wait until we can put the pandemic behind us. Hopefully next week we will have some after work drinks (my first!) with the (junior) analysts.
What do you look forward to, for the coming year at NewForesight Consultancy?
David: I am very much looking forward for us to be back at the office. While working from home has its perks, I much prefer being in the office, surrounded by my kind and inspiring co-workers.
Other than that, I very much hope to get the chance to travel with my work, meeting the people and seeing the areas which we work with and in with my own eyes.
Thomas: I have recently spent more time with colleagues at the office, which has dramatically increased the enjoyment of my work. So I’m looking forward to a lot more brainstorms, discussions, coffee chats and after work drinks.
I’m also looking forward to continue growing my skillset and work on interesting projects, hopefully also with some of the colleagues I haven’t worked with before.
What is the Junior Analyst Program? The intense and dynamic Junior Analyst 6 month program is designed for you to get inspired, learn and develop your skills within strategy consultancy. You work on at least two client-facing projects, are assigned an experienced consultant as your mentor and you receive several in-depth trainings to accelerate your professional skills.
Interested to apply for Junior Analyst or Analyst? Check out our vacancies!