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Being myself opened doors

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I’d like to tell you how I came to McKinsey. I hope it illustrates the magic of McKinsey, and how McKinsey worked with me to turn my failed case interview into my dream job. The whole thing began in September of 2016. I applied to McKinsey at the suggestion of my friend, a Philadelphia–based consultant here. As I told him, I’d never thought about consulting; it didn’t seem to be my speed. But, he’s a close friend and he thought I’d love it, so I agreed to give it a shot.

A case interview?

A little while later, I was invited to take McKinsey’s problem–solving test. I was quite excited about this. McKinsey was interested in me! The test itself seemed to go well, and I was invited to interview. Then I got nervous. Excited still, but nervous. I had never done case interviews before. I did a couple of practice cases with my friend, and they didn’t go very well. I lacked structure and didn’t know any frameworks to help. But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to practice. Partially, it was because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a consultant; it was also because I didn’t feel like practicing for such a specific type of interview would help me grow as a person. That was a constant sticking point for me. I wasn’t going to invest tens of hours practicing for this one type of interview.

Be yourself in the interview

I did start reading more about McKinsey on the firm’s careers website. The interview resources were really helpful. They kept mentioning “be yourself” in the interview. This put my mind at ease; I decided to take this to heart in the most extreme way possible. I realized there was something I could do that felt in line with my learning–focused mentality. I read about every case and every industry outlined on the McKinsey website. I literally clicked through all 22 industries profiled and all the client cases described therein. Now, I was learning such cool things, and it was fun.

Jaime 1

My interviewer: a physician/consultant

On the day of my interview, I was greeted by a nice man with an easy smile, Mokaram. He was a trained medical doctor (whoa—so cool!), so we started talking about medicine and health care on our walk to the interview room. This conversation continued for about five more minutes, until he said, “I’m really enjoying this, but why don’t you take my card so we can continue this conversation offline?” I eagerly agreed. I had shown who I was already: insatiably curious, affable, excited about every day. But now I was going to really show who I was.

I can’t remember exactly how it came up, but one of the first things I told Mokaram about myself was, “I don’t really want to be a consultant.” He laughed in a lighthearted way and he calmly said, “Interesting. So why are you here?” I told him I was there to meet and potentially work with brilliant people from every field.

Showing the real me

The fun of showing who I was started to fade when the case began, though. I fumbled my way through it as best I could. I lacked structure. I didn’t sound confident. Mokaram was very patient and encouraging the whole time. Even as I left to see my second interviewer and said, “Sorry that wasn’t a great case,” he patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry; it wasn’t nearly as bad as you’re thinking.”

After fumbling the second case equally badly, I went home feeling not as badly as you might think. I knew I showed the real me.

Two weeks later …

A short time later, Mokaram called me. I didn’t receive an invitation for a second interview, but Mokaram gave me some helpful tips for next time and encouraged me to keep in touch with the firm. This is where the amazingness of McKinsey really begins: no more than two weeks later, I got an email from Christine, a Philadelphia–based associate who works with one of McKinsey’s organizational behavior solutions, People Analytics.

She said her team was interested in hiring someone with my background (pursuing a PhD in organizational behavior) for a part–time internship building out McKinsey’s perspective on talent management.

The perfect job

I was so excited! This was the perfect job. I bit at the opportunity immediately. Within a week I was speaking with the illustrious Bill Schaninger, a senior partner in McKinsey’s Organization practice, about my dissertation, and how I could potentially help the team.

Within another week I was hired. I wanted to scream from the rooftops. I was now an employee at McKinsey. Even after fumbling my case interview, the firm worked its magic to find the perfect position for me. Few organizations in the world have the capabilities to do this, and it’s one of the many reasons I love McKinsey.

Since then, my position has been made permanent and the firm worked with me to help me finish my dissertation while working full–time. I’ve been here for about a year now, and I absolutely love it.

Find a job like Jaime’s

About Jaime

Based in New Jersey, Jaime is a data scientist with People Analytics by McKinsey, one of our firm’s 50+ New Ventures startups. He is currently in the final stages of completing his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

When he is not writing his dissertation, or reading about software engineering on the NYC subway, Jaime enjoys playing soccer and tennis, as well as connecting with people from around the world via LinkedIn and Quora to help them discover their passions. Jaime has a bachelor’s in economics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a master’s in financial economics from Oxford University.

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