It's almost been a month since I started at McKinsey as a Summer Associate. I thought this was an appropriate time to reflect (by blogging, of course). There have been quite a few surprises for me on joining the firm. But first, let's start at the items that went as expected:
1. My colleagues are very talented, motivated and overall outstanding individuals. Which is expected, given how much thought goes into evaluating each person in the hiring process. As someone suggested 'There are no hiring mistakes here.'
2. It's been fun! My summer class is a lot of fun, and we have a lot of get-togethers in NYC.
But then were were some surprises:
1. It is amazing to see how much thought goes into every consultant's development. A major reason reasons why consultants do tend to do a large variety of projects early on is to get a vast variety of experiences and build up one's consulting toolkit.projects assigned to me.
2. Contrary to popular opinion, most new hires are not necessarily MBAs. McKinsey hires from other masters and PhD programs, as well as hires several experienced people from the industry. There are a surprisingly high number of MDs in the firm, which is something I did not expect at all.
3. Working at McKinsey (or any top consulting firm) would give you a great brand on your resume and open several doors. But as several people have told me, its wrong to assume that it is a passport to any job you might want. In fact, you might get pigeonholed into strategy roles, and glamorous as that may seem, for several sectors, that is just a limited set of opportunities. It is often not easy to just move over the general management roles.
4. While McKinsey might help you learn several great skills, one thing will still be missing: you wouldn't learn how to manage 'normal' people. The theory behind this is that most people at the firm are very driven, and you do not have to motivate them to work hard and produce top quality results. This will not be true in most industry roles, hence that is something one should build through other experiences.
5. Management consulting is not just strategy consulting; in fact, the 'classic strategy projects' form a small part of revenue of most consulting firms. Instead there is a huge mix of projects, including sales and marketing, operations, innovation, growth, new market entry, cost-cutting etc.
6. As I meet different partners and directors, I notice the various qualities that might have helped them reach that position. And they all seem to be very different from each other; some are outgoing, friendly people who thrive on building relationships. Others are just pure intellect; well respect for their knowledge and thought process.
It's hard to believe that a month has already passed. Another six weeks to go, and I will be done - and back to Kellogg! What happens after that? Back at McKinsey, or go some other route? That still remains to be seen.....