Summer Internship Series: Abhinav Gabbeta, MBA ’21, helps create a virtual ‘new normal’ at Cognizant

Abhinav Gabbeta, MBA ’21, writes today about his summer consulting with CognizantHe was invited to return to Cognizant full-time after graduation. His contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences with the Olin blog.

My summer internship was one of the most pivotal parts of my MBA education. It not only gave me the chance to apply specific skills I’d learned in the classroom, but also helped me to prepare for the next chapter in my career. After going through the nerve-wracking interview circuit, I was blessed with the great opportunity to intern with Cognizant as a senior consultant in their healthcare business unit, and have recently been granted an offer to return full-time.

As with much of our class, the sudden onslaught of COVID-19 meant that my internship experience was not business as usual. Every aspect of my internship was run virtually, including onboarding, day-to-day work, and networking. Quite frankly, I was initially nervous about this shift. However, I soon realized that in the ever-changing business world, this moment represents an important inflection point. I had a first-hand look at how leading firms address global adversity and I am now in a unique position to help create the “new normal.” I found this to be especially interesting and relevant to the field of consulting.

Consultants are known for heavy travel, immersive client interaction, and close team collaboration. The entirety of this business model was threatened by the pandemic, but fortunately, consultants are also known for solving complex problems.

During my internship, I saw how the industry adapted by embracing virtual meetings, while still maintaining close relationships with clients and delivering the same high-quality results. This new model has the potential to provide significant cost savings, wider capabilities, and a more appealing work-life balance for consultants.

However, this transition was not without its challenges; I had to manage learning curves for new technology, blurred lines between work/off-work hours, limited employee motivation, and difficulty with networking. I worked through these issues by being vocal and proactive, being intentional with my outreach, volunteering for more work, forming feedback loops with mentors, building real relationships with team members, and staying flexible in the face of unexpected change.

My Olin training prepared me to take on these challenges by giving a me a strong foundation in strategy and management, communication skills, and workplace dynamics. My internship also proved to me how important Olin’s pillars for success are (values-based and data-driven, globally oriented,   experiential, entrepreneurial).

When I worked on my main project regarding Cognizant’s 2021-2023 healthcare business unit strategy, I helped make decisions and set goals that were informed by industry data and founded on company values. I worked directly with off-shore colleagues and realized how to work effectively in teams around the globe and around the clock.

I jumped right into projects with all the responsibilities and expectations of a full-fledged senior consultant and learned through practice. Perhaps most importantly, I embraced Olin’s entrepreneurial spirit by taking ownership of my internship experience and building a well-rounded experience. I was able to create an internal strategy, solve external health payer and provider segment client engagements and develop new thought leadership.

As I go further in my consulting and healthcare career, I will take all these lessons with me and look back fondly at Olin and Cognizant for helping me to develop the skills and mindset I need to succeed.

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