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My best ever internship with McKinsey

We asked seven colleagues from Central Europe about their internship experiences at McKinsey. Learn about their favorite memories, growth moments, and decisions to return to McKinsey full-time.

A year-long transformation journey

My first project was probably the most memorable. We were creating a next generation grocery store for one of the major retail players in Central and Eastern Europe.

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Solomiia, junior associate, Kyiv

We developed break-through solutions for in-store operations and customer experience based on best practices and observations during on-site visits to major retail chains all across Europe. More than twenty of us visited three countries in three days. We exchanged ideas in-flight and used the diversity of all team members’ perspectives. Junior and senior tenured clients, interns and project leaders were all vital parts of our ongoing discussions. We identified a dozen initiatives covering all aspects of retail operations, from optimized cash desks and deli counters to digitized shelf replenishment and a staff allocation engine. After a year-long transformation journey, all of the initiatives were fully implemented by our clients.

This and many more experiences helped me decide to pursue my career at McKinsey. This is the place where I can grow beyond the limits, supported by extraordinary people who are always willing to walk the extra mile with me.

Responsibility from day one

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Piotr, junior associate, Warsaw

Before my summer internship at McKinsey in Warsaw, I had only worked at online startups. I wore a t-shirt to the office, played kickers during my lunch breaks and worked with my peers on the technical side of online marketing campaigns. During my first engagement at McKinsey with a major Polish insurance client, I had to quickly adapt to the new business environment and learn to see the big picture behind my work.

In my first week, my team mates gave me a crash course on the insurance industry; taught me how to depict my analyses on charts; and, showed me how to communicate my insights in a top-down manner to very senior people, including board members with 20 years of industry experience. When I presented my carefully prepared slide at the board meeting just two weeks into my internship, I knew McKinsey is a place to start a career full of ownership and support.

Powerful moments during McKinsey internship

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Michaela, junior associate, Prague

My internship was filled with powerful moments. I worked with exceptional people ranging from manufacturing experts sharing their expertise with the team to communications specialists facilitating tough meetings. Within weeks, we moved from hard, technical and chemical puzzles to softer aspects of the company’s culture. I spent multiple hours in the assembly hall and in meeting rooms which helped me get the perspective of line operators and understand C-level decisions. I am proud we helped to turn the company around, make the employees’ daily tasks easier, and production more efficient.

The combination of analytics, conceptual thinking and the people made me confident McKinsey was a great fit for me. In such an intellectually challenging job, it matters to me to be surrounded by friendly and supportive colleagues and to have fun office events within our community. At McKinsey, I’ve felt welcome from the moment I started.

Making a choice with digital focus

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Tudor, business analyst in digital technology practice, Bucharest

After earning my bachelor’s degree in computer science and management, I felt like I had to limit my career options in my fields of specialization.

During my internship at McKinsey, I was amazed by how digital topics permeated my entire engagement. Bringing in my previous experiences with automation to help our oil & gas client find ways to maximize the time their employees spent on high value activities felt empowering and allowed me to explore the best of the firm’s expertise. Even though I had never worked in oil & gas before, I was deeply involved in our client’s supply & trading operations and fuel demand planning processes, leveraging digital solutions and automation. I learned how I can take my skills and experience and use them in different ways.

After my internship I decided to join McKinsey as a digital business analyst. Once I join full-time, I look forward to working on diverse, inspiring projects while expanding my focus on digital topics.

Finally choosing McKinsey because of its most valuable asset – people

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Nikola Aleksandar, senior business analyst, Zagreb

Three weeks into my internship, I felt like I had been a part of the team and the firm for much longer. Facing challenges, addressing client expectations, participating in hands-on problem solving sessions, picking up the consulting lingo, brushing up my skills in PowerPoint and Excel, and seeing my slides shared with client leaders – all those experiences gave me a sense of accomplishment and pride. The energy and devotion I shared with my colleagues in the team room made me feel part of a like-minded, but strongly individual group of people. The environment of similar values and goals and mutual support helped me challenge myself to be the best me possible. Being part of such team and firm made me honored and proud.

The first training at McKinsey that helps to immediately embark into consulting world

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Alicja, senior business analyst, Warsaw

During the first two weeks of my internship at McKinsey, I participated in Embark, the firm’s onboarding training. It simulated a real project and included a lot of role-playing exercises. More experienced consultants taught us to be hypothesis-driven, effective communicators, and they shared their experiences from past projects. Afterwards, I quickly ramped up on my first engagement. I also had a network of inspiring peers from around the world who shared my passions for shaping businesses and impacting the world for the better. I chose to return to McKinsey full-time to work in a mix of industries with people from all over the world. I believe it is the best job for people who are curious about the world and care a lot about their development.

Gaining amazing experiences in the early stages of the internship journey

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Kristof, senior business analyst, Budapest

During the 10 weeks of my internship, I worked on two projects, serving a telecommunications company in Germany and a bank in Ukraine. On my first day on a project, I felt a mix of excitement and tension as I headed out to the airport with my suitcase (pre-COVID). During the flight, I prepared by reading some materials; when we landed, the project manager and I went straight to the client site. The engagement was just as exciting and challenging as I imagined, while the level of support I received exceeded my expectations. This continuous mentorship and inclusive environment gave me the comfort and confidence I needed to succeed. Within a few weeks, I was leading discussions with senior client executives and presenting the results of my analyses to the client’s board.

The McKinsey experience is about co-creation and continuous teamwork with people who become your mentors, thought partners, and friends. Gaining some truly amazing experiences in the early stages of my career, while discovering different countries and cultures, reinforced my decision to join the firm as a full-time consultant.

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