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My experience with mentorship and apprenticeship at McKinsey

– Happy November! The last month has been a whirlwind of excitement! Besides helping my client get through a big milestone successfully, I was able to do a lot of self-reflection on the people who have coached and helped me here at McKinsey.

Mentorship and Apprenticeship at the Southern Office Retreat

The Southern Office holds an office-wide professional development retreat every 18-24 months. This is the event that I look forward to the most out of all the McKinsey training programs as it gives me a chance to have a great time of fellowship and learning together with friends from all tenures across the Southern Office (Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Miami).

The site of our Southern Office retreat
This retreat’s theme was “Mentorship and Apprenticeship.” One of McKinsey’s values is to create an unrivaled environment for exceptional people, and many of my colleagues demonstrate this principle by developing others through apprenticeship and mentoring. While there are many formal avenues for mentorship, such as being assigned a “Development Group Leader” to help you achieve your goals and aspirations, I’ve met many mentors at McKinsey informally through projects and extracurricular activities.

Meeting mentors

I found one mentor on my first marketing and sales engagement, where I was responsible for building a multiple lever model to help guide my client’s pricing strategy. Having had minimal exposure to Excel, I was worried about my capabilities to deliver strong impact to my client. One of the associates on my team immediately took me under her wing and patiently coached me through the study, often taking time out of her own workstream to problem-solve with me and answer silly questions on formulas and spreadsheet mechanics. This pricing effort ended up being the most successful initiative our client had in 2015, and my Excel proficiency has grown by leaps and bounds; I could not have achieved all of this without this colleague’s kindness and coaching.

Catching up with friends from different offices during dinner
I met another mentor through several extra-curricular activities and social events. She was an associate at the time and I was immediately drawn to her wisdom, humor and humility. I would often come to her with questions about personal and professional issues within and beyond consulting. I jumped on the opportunity to work with her when she was starting up her first client project as an engagement manager, and I am still working with her today! Time does fly when you’re having fun, and I can’t believe we’ve been working together for over six months (my longest project at the firm)! What started out as a friendship has now developed into a deep and meaningful mentor/mentee relationship. Her advice has been instrumental in shaping my life decisions and it’s been such a pleasure watching her grow on her journey at McKinsey as well.

What it means to be a mentor

I’m sure if you asked any of my mentors how they actually became a mentor, each of them would be taken aback and say they weren’t trying to be someone’s coach, they were just being themselves. Indeed, there is something intrinsic about mentorship and I’ve found the best mentors at McKinsey to be genuine and selfless human beings who are just trying to help bring out the best in the people around them.

On top of self-reflection, participating in panels and attending workshops, all of us at the retreat also had some free time to reconnect with each other through different activities and social events. I had a blast at this retreat and I’ve already started my countdown to the next one!


About the blogger

Business Analyst


Janelle was born and raised in Singapore. She originally joined McKinsey as a summer business analyst and returned to our Miami office full-time after graduating from Stanford with a degree in human biology. She serves clients around the world in industries such as retail, travel and transportation, healthcare, and energy. A lover of travel and discovery, she was drawn to McKinsey as she recognized the opportunity to combine her passion for adventure with her desire to learn new skills while creating meaningful impact. Janelle loves the outdoors and spends her free time playing tennis and SCUBA diving.