Leaving academia can be scary. But I’ve come to realize just how much McKinsey values diversity of backgrounds, and the firm has significant training and support to help you get to know consulting.
I’m a scientist, with a PhD in materials science and engineering. Along with my research, I’d always been interested in business and in the broader impact that science and technology can have on society. That’s what led me to apply to McKinsey: I was looking for a place where I could have broader impact, satisfy my intellectual curiosity, and have exposure to international experiences. I was a summer associate in the Minneapolis office and built some strong relationships there; I ultimately decided to join full time. Today, some of the people I’ve worked with have become my closest friends.
Helping clients and colleagues grow in fundamental ways
My time at McKinsey has been incredibly rewarding—in some quite different ways. First is the difference we can make to clients: when you do strategy work, for instance, you help a company fundamentally rethink who they are and what they are aiming to do in the world. Second is the opportunity to interact with senior leaders in both business and the public sector. Third is people development—seeing colleagues develop and gain confidence is a part of the job here, and core to McKinsey’s values. It is extremely fulfilling to see a junior colleague’s career trajectory take a sharp curve upward as he or she gains experience.
Thinking of joining from academia?
Leaving academia can be scary—I know. But I’ve come to realize just how much McKinsey values diversity of backgrounds, and the firm has significant training and support to help you get to know consulting. I found that my time as an associate gave me an incredible breadth of real business experience, which rounded out my professional development. Since becoming an associate principal, I have developed a powerful set of transferable project-management skills in wide variety of settings. My advice to anyone with an advanced degree is threefold: 1) learn as much as you can about the consulting profession, 2) see if it is a right fit for you, and 3) don’t be afraid to apply.
Follow your passion
Last but not least, I’d emphasize just how much McKinsey encourages its people to nurture and follow their interests. I, for one, harbor a lifelong passion for education. While at the University of Michigan, I was part of the inaugural cohort of graduate teachers serving at Ypsilanti Public High School, a local school. Since moving to McKinsey and the Twin Cities, I have found opportunities to speak at high schools on the value of engineering and consulting careers.
University of Michigan
PhD, materials science and engineering
Pennsylvania State University
BS, materials science and engineering