McKinsey is part of the Big Three (or MBB)—a name colloquially given to the world’s three largest strategy consulting firms by revenue, and considered the most prestigious employers in the management consulting industry.
Virginia has shared her impressions with us, showing the importance of networking with companies early on.
How did you find out about the summer internship opportunity at McKinsey? What about it appealed to you?
Since I started university, I‘ve been interested in strategic consulting and banking so, from the very beginning, I’ve always tried to be up-to-date with the new internship opportunities that big companies in these sectors were offering. Especially McKinsey, which had always been my “dream” company. I talked to people that work or worked there and asked them for feedback and I really liked it from the very beginning. From time to time, I checked their website and all the opportunities they were offering, such as events, talks, and internship positions, and applied to the ones I liked.
When I was able to apply to the summer program during my penultimate year, I’d already been in contact with them and had attended many events. I tried to apply as soon as I could because I was aware of what a great opportunity it was.
From my point of view, “soft skills” are really important at McKinsey. Being open-minded, talkative, proactive, and able to work in teams are some really valuable assets at the firm, and I feel this is where IE University students in general mark the difference.
It’s assumed that everybody joining the process is smart enough, has good grades, and comes from a great university, but not everybody has the right soft skills to be a good fit. I feel that, from the very first year, IE University helps us develop a set of soft skills that are important for a position like this one.
Besides, the IE Talent & Careers department offers access to a consulting preparation platform where you can practice business cases, and that’s really helpful when you’re facing a business case interview for the first time.
What can you tell us about your time as an intern at McKinsey? What would you highlight?
It was a pretty intense internship. The two months flew by, and I really had an amazing time. I was assigned a project abroad, so I was traveling back and forth every week with my team. The experience was very enriching.
If I had to highlight only a couple things, the first would be the steep learning curve that the job offers, not only for interns but for all the consultants at the firm. Each project is different and gives you the chance to learn a lot about many things that you would never think you could like.
The other highlight would be the people. Everybody is really smart, nice, and collaborative. Although consultants spend a lot of time working, the atmosphere is enjoyable and positive, and teams always find a moment for amusement between the long hours.
How did you secure the full-time opportunity after your internship?
For me, the way to secure the full-time opportunity is by showing yourself as keen to learn. The first weeks you must be a sponge and learn as much as you can, so you can use all that knowledge to contribute in the following weeks.
Attitude is also important. Staying positive and always bringing a potential solution to every problem is truly relevant.
Finally, being responsible and an “owner” of your work. Everything you do, even when you’re an intern, is your responsibility until it moves to the next person. Everything you deliver should be, from your point of view, ready to go to the client.
What was the recruitment process like? What advice would you give to other students interested in interning or working at McKinsey?
The process is pretty demanding. In my case, I was in many recruitment processes for banking and consulting firms at the same time, so it came at a stressful time. Nevertheless, the recruitment people are really nice and make you feel comfortable and important from the very beginning.
Although the process may seem stressful, McKinsey gives you resources to prepare for it. An example is the online “interview preparation” session in which you join a Webex, together with some other potential candidates, and a real consultant from the firm helps you prepare for the interview.
McKinsey has a really strong culture and you need to understand this and be comfortable with it if you want to be part of the firm. What worked for me was to be relaxed and show myself as I am, both during the process and also during my months as an intern.