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Overcoming obstacles and landing a dream job

Dayanna is a junior capabilities and insights analyst in San Jose, in one of McKinsey’s Client Capabilities Network hubs. In this blog post, she describes how she overcame obstacles to gain education and professional experience, and how her career trajectory changed while she was at McKinsey.

“In my life, I never had it easy. I remember growing up, I sometimes had to study by candlelight as we couldn't pay the electricity bill. Due to my hard family situation, I was bullied by classmates and developed depression. However, despite all the challenges and obstacles, I was determined to gain an education and develop a professional career.

I graduated from a technical high school and immediately started working. After two years, I decided to look for a better job opportunity and was invited to apply for a business presentation specialist role at McKinsey. To be honest, I knew very little about the firm, but I felt in my heart this would be a great opportunity. I was hired in June 2017 and I couldn’t believe what an amazing place it is. At McKinsey, I could study while working, so I enrolled in an International Trade course. I remember some tired mornings in classes, and some endless nights completing my homework and getting ready for my workday.

Dayanna Chavarria
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In mid-2018, I applied for an internal executive assistant position. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the last round of interviews, but I learned something about myself and about my weaknesses. I asked my team leader Andreas to help me work on my skills and improve, so I could grow within the firm. I used every opportunity to learn and develop. Later on, I also decided to change my university courses and start a Business Administration program at Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología.

The executive assistant role opened again in June 2019, and I gave it another shot. For a month, I studied and did research to prepare as best as I could for the interview process. Unfortunately, during that time my adoptive grandma fell ill and passed away, and that took its toll on me. I remember vividly getting a call in the middle of my grandma’s memorial service saying I made it to the final round. During the week to follow I focused my energy on preparing to make sure I did my best at interview. And it paid off – in September 2019, on my 22nd birthday, I started my new role as an executive assistant.

Little did I know what an amazing journey I was getting into and one year after I started as an EA, I decided I wanted to go even further with my career at the firm. I started learning about the different functional practices and connected with a few practice managers who became my mentors and sponsors. They helped me learn about the different areas within McKinsey: they let me join calls to listen and learn, and talked to me about getting involved in projects. They heard me, supported me and always gave me the advice I needed to move forward with my desire to grow.

In April 2021, I was invited to apply for the junior capabilities and insights analyst position within the Product Development & Procurement practice. I did my research on the position and got the courage to apply. I remember amazing sessions with one of my mentors Laura who helped me get over my impostor syndrome and trust in myself. In June 2021, I got the amazing news that I received the offer to start this new position in August this year.

In my journey at McKinsey I’ve had the support of amazing people from all backgrounds who helped me believe in myself and pushed me to create the best version of myself. I always will be grateful I joined this amazing place where I feel like I have a second family who cares for me and gives me the opportunity to grow professionally and personally.”

Dayanna Chavarria
We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

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