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Mentorship & support

Mentorship helped Marina find her place in McKinsey São Paulo office; then she paid that support forward to Ana.

Read more about: Emerging markets| Diversity

Marina and Ana share how they were supported by members of the McKinsey Black Network during their application process, and why they’re now inspired to pay that mentorship forward.

Marina’s story

“When I was invited to interview with McKinsey, I was not sure the firm would be the place for me because my whole background seemed too different from the McKinsey consultant I had heard about. I came out of a Brazilian public high school, studied geophysics in college, and faced challenges growing up as a black woman.

“Even though I’d heard from consultants and recruiters that McKinsey was looking for all sorts of academic profiles and that the firm embraced diversity in all its forms, I found myself anxious and insecure before my interviews. I practiced business cases with my McKinsey Mentor, but I kept asking myself if people at McKinsey would understand where I came from and whether they would hear my voice.

“It wasn’t until a consultant from the McKinsey Black Network reached out to me that I felt I had what it would take to be successful at McKinsey. Vanessa, my McKinsey Black Network Mentor, is an associate with the São Paulo office. She made herself available to talk to me about her experience as a woman and a black consultant. Through her, I discovered what the Black Network is and the incredible support its members offer to black consultants, promoting inclusion and attention to racial matters among our firm colleagues. I became very excited about interviewing with McKinsey because of the prospect of being where I knew I could be myself and openly discuss my opinions and struggles.

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“I received an offer join full–time, and knew I wanted to be part of the Black Network and become a McKinsey Mentor for black candidates interviewing with McKinsey to pay Vanessa’s support forward. One of my first mentees was Ana, a candidate for an internship position with our São Paulo office. My conversations with Vanessa made me realize how important it is to find people who share your fears and concerns, so I wanted to provide that experience to Ana, too. I decided to help her recruit with McKinsey.”

Ana’s story

“I applied for a business analyst internship with McKinsey after listening to consultants, partners, and recruiters talk about their lives at the firm during a lecture at my school. Still, I heard comments from other applicants about how hard the recruiting process was – even some stories about people being asked to solve complex math problems in short time frames. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the interviews.

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“I was so nervous during my first interview that I couldn’t hold my pencil in my hand right. My interviewer, Leticia, stopped the interview and said she would not restart it until I felt more relaxed and confident. She talked to me about how I was feeling until I was ready to go back to solving the business case. That was the first time I noticed how much people at McKinsey really cared about helping me.

“The second time was right before my final round interviews, when Marina, my McKinsey Black Network Mentor, called me to talk about her experience at McKinsey. She was so honest and so open with me, I felt I could trust her and open up about my anxiety. On the day before my final–round interviews, she called me to ask how I was doing and advised me to go out for dinner at my favorite restaurant or watch my favorite TV show. “Go relax and reenergize yourself,“ she said. ”You worked so hard to be here, I’m sure you will be great tomorrow.” Her words boosted my confidence and made me feel at peace.

“On the following day, I really felt I was at my best. I received an offer to intern at McKinsey in São Paulo. I am certain Marina’s words helped me succeed.

“Today, I am a McKinsey Black NetworkMentor because I want to boost black candidates’ confidence as Marina did for me. I want to show them we have a strong community here. I want to be open and create room for dialogue and support. I just told my first mentee about the Black Network, the training sessions we host, the initiatives we support, etc. Her response was impressive: she wanted me to tell her brother and his friends there is a place where they can work and find a community that understands their experiences. She even wants to create a black professionals network at her current employer if she doesn’t get an offer from us. That was very inspirational for me.”

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