Yes, you are expected to pull your weight, but you are not expected to do it completely in isolation. People are always happy to help you to perform at your best.
McKinsey offered the possibility to combine my interests in technology and business in a way that I could not find anywhere else. After having spent a few months here as an intern, this impression was further strengthened. In addition, I discovered the immense opportunities that you are given from very early on in this firm—be it working closely with senior clients or with our extensive network of experts. The opportunity to quickly get up to speed on the latest trends and challenges in a certain industry is truly a unique advantage.
Expectations for working at McKinsey
I was actually not convinced I would enjoy working at McKinsey at all when I first joined as an intern. From the outside, the firm can be sort of intimidating, with all its prestige and sharp suits. I was afraid that I would not fit in or not be able to deliver on expectations. This turned out not to be true at all. I found that people were a lot warmer and more diverse than what I expected. When it comes to being able to deliver on expectations, I think my perception of those expectations have changed. Yes, you are expected to pull your weight, but you are not expected to do it completely in isolation. People are always happy to help you to perform at your best.
Rewarding and meaningful experiences
In my latest study, we did IT strategy and transformation for a client, working in close collaboration with large parts of the organization. Before the project started, the level of trust in the organization, both among themselves and towards us, was incredibly low. During the process, we were able to start building up that trust and actually changing the mind-set of how they work with their colleagues. It was an important reminder that our work is about more than just crunching numbers—there is also an equally important people aspect to it.
Collaborating with colleagues
In my opinion, what makes the collaborative process at McKinsey work so well is that it always feels like the team is in the same boat. There is a shared understanding among everyone that the only way to succeed is to make your team succeed. I think the best way to describe my colleagues is “humbling.” People have such a wide span of knowledge—not just about work-related topics—and a lot of different experiences. When you combine that with very likable personalities, it is hard not to be humbled.
Advice for applying to McKinsey
First of all, if you are thinking about it, do it! I am very grateful for the opportunity I had as an intern to try it on for size, which was a valuable experience and put me in a position to make a better-informed decision later on. For someone with an educational background outside of business, for whom consulting might not be the obvious choice, I would advise that person to rethink what their education is really about. What is it that you have actually learned, and how is that applicable outside your primary field?
There are also several opportunities to get exposure to consulting even before you apply—such as case competitions and other events—which can be a good way to get a taste for what working here is like.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology