My internship at McKinsey during the final year of my PhD offered me a perspective on the inner workings of companies and allowed me to follow my passion for solving diverse, challenging, and high-impact problems.

Seeking new challenges

During my PhD in artificial intelligence, I spent a summer in the United States where I worked with some of the brightest people on a variety of projects that spanned computer science, neuroscience, and industrial research. These months exposed me to what I was really looking for in a job: 1) a fast-paced environment with novel challenges 2) efficient use of time in finding solutions and 3) meeting people from diverse backgrounds, understanding their needs, and helping to solve their problems.

I started looking at a range of jobs and spoke with numerous people, and it quickly became clear to me that a job as a consultant would be a great fit for my goals. Talking to many consultants at events in London, Paris, and Zurich, I immediately felt right at home with the McKinsey consultants.

Gaining insight and companionship

My internship at McKinsey during the final year of my PhD offered me a perspective on the inner workings of companies and allowed me to follow my passion for solving diverse, and critical problems.

On just the fourth day of my internship, I found myself in the middle of my first project—helping to develop a growth strategy for a worldwide leading insurer. The warm welcome of my team made me feel comfortable diving right into the project. It was only the first week, and I was talking to experts within the firm and to a senior client.

On my second project, we were supporting a culture transformation initiative at an international organization. This rare outside-in view of two such different clients with such different goals was an amazing experience that is hard to find in other jobs.

What fascinated me during both projects was the feeling of being “in it together”—working as a team to help our clients. Even though I had no prior experience in consulting, with the coaching of my team members I was able to really contribute. And how much our efforts meant to our clients became most visible to me when I had to say good-bye on the last day of my internship. They thanked me for my contributions with many hugs and chocolates.

Broadening my horizon

The internship helped me to apply and move beyond the experiences I had during my PhD studies. I got to know many inspiring people, many of whom became friends. It was also a great way to develop a business mind-set, which I believe is very useful in combination with the technical skills I developed during my studies. Some of the skills that McKinsey helped me to develop didn’t become apparent until a few months later when I worked on my PhD defense. Structuring a presentation and giving a talk never felt so natural!

Education

ETH Zurich
PhD, artificial intelligence

Technische Universitat Berlin
MS, neuroscience

Technische Universitat Dortmund
BS, computer science