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Surprises at the firm

– I applied to McKinsey while finishing my master’s in Public Policy at Georgetown and working at a major US financial regulator. My education and work experience focused on applying analytic rigor to public and social sector problems. Although public service was (and still is) very fulfilling, I wanted to expand the scope of my day-to-day work while continuing to develop my expertise in analytics. McKinsey gave me the opportunity to help solve the most challenging problems facing businesses, governments, and NGOs across industries and geographies. Though I was anxious about leaving my home and friends in DC to move to Boston, my time at the firm has exceeded my expectations.

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On my first engagement, I worked with a client team to estimate how fans would react if a professional sports organization added an additional team to their league. I developed a model that projected tickets sales and estimated how many fans from other teams would switch loyalties. Using this model, we identified a major opportunity to increase revenue and attract new fans to the league. This project wasn’t what I expected to work on at McKinsey, but as an avid sports fan, it was an incredibly exciting introduction to client service.

Since then, I have worked on engagements in finance, agriculture, healthcare, and ecommerce working with teams in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and across the US and Canada.

I’ve learned so much through these experiences and through McKinsey’s formal training. Recently, a close friend jokingly asked me, “Does McKinsey have you in training three out of four weeks a month?!” Though that is an exaggeration, I have attended multiple technical and professional trainings in the six months I’ve been with the firm. The investment McKinsey makes in its people makes it hard for me to picture myself anywhere else.

I’ve also maintained balance working at McKinsey. In my free time, I enjoy target practice at the shooting range, listening to real country music (Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck), reading biographies, watching Ken Burns documentaries, and exploring the outdoors.

If you’re thinking of applying for McKinsey, go for it. My advice would be to prepare – for the case interviews and to talk about the experiences you’ve had to date. Make sure you’re ready to provide examples about experiences, skills, and technical expertise you’ve developed. And remember, asking questions of your interviewers – about their experiences at McKinsey and the case at hand – is encouraged.