How to successfully switch jobs in the middle of a global pandemic

Ikram standing under a pergola in a jacket
Ikram standing under a pergola in a jacket

Lockdown, interviewing, and onboarding

It was a Friday. The news was all over the TV and radio; COVID-19 was spreading at lightning speed. Everyone must go into isolation. It was also the day of my final round of interviews at McKinsey.

I received and accepted the offer to join. Switching jobs in the middle of a pandemic could be a risky move. It felt riddled with unknowns such as, “Will I connect with my colleagues? Will I fit in while working remotely?

During McKinsey’s recruitment process, I was matched with a McKinsey Mentor who took the time to answer all my questions and help me prepare for the interviews. After joining, my onboarding was smooth and professional and done virtually over Zoom. I received all my IT equipment a week before my start date, so I was ready on day one. Several colleagues reached out to welcome me and make me feel at ease. I immediately felt at home.

Why McKinsey?

Before joining the firm, I worked as a cyber security analyst in the aerospace industry, and then as a data scientist in an AI factory, building AI products using advanced machine learning. I chose McKinsey because it provided the perfect balance between technical and strategic work, allowing me to explore a multitude of industries.

Interesting people and client projects

In my first few months at McKinsey, I have worked on incredible client projects with fun and interesting colleagues. I’ve helped a Latin American retailer launch an e-commerce platform and streamline their supply chain to adapt to a new tech environment. I’ve worked with a video game studio to help them retain their best talent and remain an exceptional place to work. As a video games enthusiast, this was a dream come true! I also built a technology roadmap for a large financial organization and built models that helped us understand employee retention for a video game studio.

During all these projects, I felt intellectually challenged on a daily basis. I interacted with high-level executives, learned from the best domain experts, worked with high-quality data sets, and collaborated with best-in-class colleagues. Most importantly, I combined work with my passion for tech and data.

Despite the unprecedented global context and the stress that comes with it, I found in McKinsey a place where I can grow, be myself and find support when I need it. I’m also making friends through fun activities we’ve had. For example, one of my engagement teams organized a cheese tasting activity to help us connect and bond.

Newlywed Ikram and husband in wedding dress and suit
Newlywed Ikram and husband in wedding dress and suit

Building personal and professional happiness

In September, I took some time off to marry my best friend (now husband), Nabil. After our wedding,  we took time to explore the beautiful landscape Quebec has to offer. I also took on a new hobby, sewing, and made my first skirt. Even though it doesn’t perfectly fit, I am very proud of it! During the pandemic, it has been important for me to stay healthy and fit, so I participated in the Tremblant 24H challenge with the Montreal office. We used a Slack channel to motivate each other to do physical activities, which was fun and rewarding.

All these little things have allowed me to build my little island of happiness at McKinsey and motivated me to continue to give my best at everything I do, in my professional and personal life.

Find a job like Ikram’s

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