Leaving academia can be scary, but I realized just how much McKinsey values diversity, and the firm has significant training and support to help you get to know consulting.
I’m a scientist with a PhD in materials science and engineering. Along with my research, I’d always been interested in business and in the broader impact science and technology can have on society. That’s what led me to McKinsey. I was a summer associate in Minneapolis and built strong relationships before returning to the firm as a full-time associate after graduation. Today, some of my colleagues have become my closest friends.
Helping clients and colleagues grow in fundamental ways
My time at McKinsey has been incredibly rewarding in many ways. First, there is the difference we can make to clients. When we do strategy work, for instance, we help a client fundamentally rethink what their organization is and what it aims to do in the world. Second is the opportunity to work with senior leaders in business and the public sector, and third is seeing colleagues develop and gain confidence. It’s a part of my job here, and core to McKinsey’s values. It is extremely fulfilling to see a junior colleague’s career trajectory take a sharp curve upward as they gain experience.
Joining McKinsey from academia
Leaving academia can be scary, but I realized how much McKinsey values diversity in backgrounds, and how much training and support the firm provides to help those of us coming from academia learn consulting. My time as an associate gave me an incredible breadth of real business experience, which rounded out my professional development. Since becoming an associate partner, I have developed a powerful set of transferable project-management skills in a variety of settings.
My advice to anyone with an advanced degree is threefold: learn as much as you can about consulting, see if it is the right fit for you, and don’t be afraid to apply.
Follow your passion
Last but not least, I’d emphasize how much McKinsey encourages people to nurture and follow their interests. I have a lifelong passion for education.
While at the University of Michigan, I was part of the inaugural cohort of graduate teachers serving at Ypsilanti Public High School. Since joining McKinsey and moving to the Twin Cities, I have found opportunities to speak at high schools about the value of engineering and consulting careers.
University of Michigan
PhD, materials science and engineering
Pennsylvania State University
BS, materials science and engineering