What It’s Like To Intern At McKinsey

Abigail DeVito is a rising senior at Villanova School of Business interning with McKinsey & Company this summer. Courtesy photo

Coming from Villanova University, a non-Ivy League institution, Abigail DeVito confesses she was somewhat intimidated when embarking on her summer internship with the firm. McKinsey & Company is one of the most prestigious management consulting firms where only the best of the best are known to work.

Going in, she may have subconsciously expected an elitist bunch and wondered if maybe even her capability to do the work would be questioned. Instead, what she says she encountered was a pleasant revelation.

“Everyone is humble,” DeVito says. “Once you’re there, everyone is a part of the community working on the same issues. I was very pleasantly surprised and happy to see that everyone was really, really humble about their education. There’s school spirit, but no one’s talking about it to rub it in your face.” 

Fears that her background would potentially be perceived as less than because she didn’t come from Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, or some other Ivy school were uncorroborated. The fact of the matter was that DeVito, now a rising senior at the Villanova School of Business, was there. Last fall, the management information systems major had conquered McKinsey’s challenging, five-week long interview process which included an assessment exam that she likens to a mini SAT, a first-round interview, and a final round. Within hours of her final round, they had extended her an offer to join the firm as a summer business analyst in its digital practice.

The invitation aligned nicely with DeVito’s passion for technology and her love for strategy. With that — in June of this year — she set out on a 10-week summer internship with one of the most esteemed consulting firms in the world.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS …

Each week, DeVito boards a plane to Las Vegas where she spends Monday through Thursday working with her client. For client confidentiality reasons, she was unable to disclose the name to Poets&Quants. Details that were permissible were that the client is in the gaming and entertainment industry and they’ve turned to McKinsey to help achieve having 50% women in management roles by 2025 across the entire company.

Together, DeVito’s team of four — herself, an engagement manager, one associate partner, and one senior partner — are creating a strategy and roadmap of activities to help the company achieve their goal.

“I have been working on quantitative and qualitative analysis to identify gaps in opportunities,” she says. “For instance, where are women in the organization today? What policies and processes does the employer currently offer?”

DeVito adds, “I would say that for all of our work streams, it is very collaborative between me and my manager, but my ownership involves tracking of metrics of how we’re doing, analyzing the gaps and opportunities I mentioned, and getting a general sense of gender diversity in the organization as a whole. I also have client-facing experience with VPs and above almost every day.”

At the end of each week, DeVito returns back to the East Coast to her home office that’s based in Jersey City.

CLASSROOM PREP THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE

Though it’s her first time inside a consulting firm, this isn’t DeVito’s first time working with a client producing strategy recommendations to achieve a company goal. Thanks to a flagship course at Villanova’s business school called Competitive Effectiveness, she’d done similar work with Ford Motor Company. The class pairs undergraduates with executives at local and regional companies to work on real problems.

“Our task was marketing one of their cars to millenials in the Philadelphia area,” remembers DeVito. “The whole semester, the class teaches you how to learn and apply these marketing and management tools. At the end, you present a 50-page plan to the client and class.”

DeVito says the course opens students’ eyes to consulting and she credits the experience with helping her prepare for her McKinsey interviews.

WANT TO GET INTO MCKINSEY? HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

There are two parts to interviewing with McKinsey, DeVito says. One is a case study, the second is a personal experience interview known as PEI. For the PEI, candidates are asked to share a previous personal experience in a team setting.

“What they’re really looking for is your role on a team and what you did,” she says. “It’s uncomfortable to prepare for that because it sounds like you’re bragging. The most important thing is to be yourself, but really understand the impact you had in any story you tell.”

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