Outline: A student at Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics talks about her McKinsey internship experience for #Uduni job series. #mckinsey internship
McKinsey Job Report – Summer Internship
Introduce yourself and your work experience
Ruben Quendera (20), McKinsey & Company Internship in Lisbon Office (July 2015).
How did you find out about this position?
McKinsey does some school events regularly. In Católica’s case, if I am not mistaken, typically a dinner with scholarship students in the end of their second year, as a way to introduce the firm. Then on the third year, during the fall semester, they will invite you to apply to either summer or full-time business analyst. You can also apply by your own initiative and if you have a good resume you will be contacted to start the procedure. If like in my case you are on exchange, you can apply during the spring semester. In my case, they even gave me the opportunity to start the process in their Copenhagen office if I preferred.
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How was the application process for you? If applicable, please provide info on each individual interview round.
You fulfill an online application in the company’s website and then a recruiter will contact you shortly after to schedule the first part of the assessment. The process has three distinctive parts. You will start with the “Problem Solving Test” to assess your general skills and intuition in problem solving, not exactly your knowledge. They provide you an example in advance so you get used to the format. If you pass, two interviews with consultants will follow and if you make it through you will be interviewed twice again but this time by partners. The interviews are very similar, they are composed of three parts: personal assessment, case solving and some time for you to ask questions in the end. Personal assessment as far as I understood is all about understanding your drive and fit to the firm’s culture. Case solving is the technical part, where you need to excel in being exhaustive at first and then focused and sort of creative as you dig deeper in the case.
How long did it take the company to contact you after you had sent your application?
Following the PST, I was informed in the same day I believe. In the first round of interviews, it took around 2 business days. In the final round of interviews however it took more than a week, but apparently because one of the partners had taken some days off (it was Easter time). They contacted me in the day right after the interviews to warn me it would take at least one week due to the circumstances, so it was not that nerve-racking. At the end of the internship you might get a proposal for a full time position, and in my case the notice was given 2 days before the end of the internship.
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What was the exact position you were working in? Indicate the three main responsibilities / activities of the job according with your time investment (%)
I was a summer business analyst, which is quite similar to a starting full-time business analyst actually. Work and responsibilities are almost equivalent. It is difficult to choose main activities since it was quite a fast changing environment. Each intern is allocated to a project with a dedicated team of 3/4 consultants and analysts, including the engagement manager. At the very beginning, you learn how to deal with the presentation production units in Lisbon, São Paulo and India (at McKinsey they have them so you don’t have to worry about making beautiful presentations, your focus is the content) and keep up with the flow of documents. After you master that, it certainly depends on the project but you can be responsible for information research, benchmark gathering and making or general helping in some of the ongoing tasks. Except some excel and powerpoint knowledgement requirements. Later, if you are up to the task they will allow a small “front” of the project, where you have a more hands-on impact, like accessing the current cost of the incentives of workers, making recommendations and measuring the impact of recommendations, for instance.
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Describe a typical day in the job. (e.g. arriving at 9am, client meeting at 10am, team discussion at 11.30am etc.)
Short answer is: there are no typical days. It completely depends on the project and the client’s needs. In my case I was staffed in two different projects, the first in Praia, Cape Verde and the second here in Lisbon. While they were very different, there are some common aspects which you can count with: pressure to deliver, occasional late hours and impactful tasks. Additionally, a common practice is occasional team discussions, either for “problem solving” when some issue needs input from multiple people or for “alignment”, where the engagement managers asks the status of the tasks from the different team members, makes recommendations and guarantees that everything is aligned, eliminating possible situations of work being repeated or done for nothing.
Was there any team spirit? Tell us a little bit about the corporate culture and your colleagues / superiors.
In parallel to the pressure inherent to the job, corporate culture is outstanding. Between CSS (Client Serving Staff, basically anyone you would describe as consultants, whether they are analysts, associates, engagement managers or principals) there is no formal addressing (the Portuguese “você”). It is all on a second person (“tu”) basis. It encourages you to speak up, express your ideas freely and question other’s ideas if you do not agree with them. You are not only encouraged to do so, you should feel the obligation to dissent. Yours fellow peers are people who you spend a lot of time with, especially when you are abroad for example, so a big effort is made for everyone to feel at home with their colleagues. As I have been told during my internship by multiple people, “the work is you why come, the people are why you stay”.
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Evaluate your level of responsibility during the Internship
Meaningful Tasks (8/10)
Important Tasks (8/10)
How much did you enjoy your internship (1 – Worst Internship, 10 – Awesome Internship)?
A solid 9. The only aspect that can weigh on you is the workload, but the nature and impact of your duties and the firm’s environment are probably unrivaled.
If possible, please indicate the monthly compensation (if any) you received.
If there is anything you would like to to add about the job / company, please do so here.
Trying to summarize my experience, I would say you can certainly expect to have challenging tasks in front you, but you will always feel supported by colleagues from the project team so you will end up learning a lot in a short-period of time. Working hours can be though, although the firm’s culture compensates for it. Probably the best upsides I can think of are having everything you need in order to just focus on the problem solving and your tasks and being engaged in impactful projects with a top management approach: even if you are not contributing a lot at first, the simple fact that you are experiencing how it’s done makes you grow.