Chris is just going into his final year of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, and has just finished a summer consulting internship with McKinsey. He was kind enough to answer some of the questions we had about his internship and any advice he might pass on to other Bright Network members.
What attracted you initially to the internship with McKinsey?
Initially, the world of consulting drew me to apply for an internship at McKinsey. The opportunity to work in a wide range of industries on short fast-paced projects with massive impact was a big plus. The possibility of travel and the multitude of exit opportunities after a few years in the field was what got me sold. McKinsey is one of the top players in the field, which is why I applied for the internship.
Can you explain a bit more about exactly what your role entailed?
As no two consulting projects are the same, my project was much more implementation-focused. My role entailed liaising directly with the client to hear their wants and needs, to communicate that to my team, to problem solve solutions, and to coordinate the Firm's resources to deliver the solution.
The client wanted to save $2-3bn in the next 3-5 years and my team and I were brought on to help them achieve that goal. That meant providing strategic guidance, offering expertise from our global network of experts, changing their mindset and the way they work, and offering and implementing technological solutions to help them unlock that value.
What did you learn from it?
I learnt how to communicate effectively and persuasively, to manage my own time and that of others, and how best to use tools such as Excel and PowerPoint to synthesise and present insight from data.
I also learnt a great deal about the client's industry: where its pain points are, what the trends are, what technological developments are in the pipeline to revolutionise completely the way work is done, what the competitive landscape is like, how market trends are going to affect the industry's future, and, critically, what the client should do in light of all of this.
Has it influenced your thinking on what career path you might want to pursue in the future?
Yes, it definitely has. The prospect of staying and progressing through the Firm is now a possibility and one that I had not properly considered before I started my internship.
Have you got some top tips for members looking to follow in your footsteps?
I would engage in extracurriculars at university and start preparing for the case study interviews early.
The recruiters that will screen your CV and the consultants that will interview you are looking for individuals that have shown that they can work in teams, use their initiative, take leadership positions, and communicate eloquently and persuasively. All of these attributes can be honed and displayed by getting involved in student societies, sports teams, music and drama ensembles, etc. outside of your academic work at university.
However, that is not all that they are looking for. Having the right personality for the job is crucial but showing that you have the right brain is critical. The case interviews will test whether you are able to tackle business problems in a structured manner and practice is definitely required to do well in this aspect of the interviews. I would read "Case In Point" by Marc Consentino and/or "Case Interview Secrets" by Victor Cheng to get started and then practice case interviews with friends and family until you are confident you are able to approach case problems effectively.
We're delighted to announce that since writing this Success Story, Chris has been offered a return offer - to start when he finishes his university education. Well done!