What It’s Like To Intern At McKinsey

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DeVito shares that the dialogue during her interview was a deep dive into very intricate details of the stories she’d shared. In this sense, she says Villanova’s Competitive Effectiveness course prepares students for a consulting interview — or any interview, for that matter — that asks team-oriented questions.

“It’s easily applicable when they ask for the most challenging time you experienced working on a team or a time you demonstrated leadership on a team. ‘What was the conversation you had with this person? How did they respond and how did you respond?’ I chose stories that I was really passionate about and that made it really easy for me to talk about the details. But, you obviously have to prepare.”

CASE BY CASE

Regarding the case study — where firms present candidates with a scenario consisting of a client goal, context, and questioning to see how the candidate would approach a case given a client’s desired outcomes — DeVito says she tapped into support from Villanova professors and other students at the business school who were preparing for similar interviews. Each helped her work on mock case presentations.

“It shouldn’t be, ‘I have to prepare by myself because I’m competing with you,’” DeVito says in reference to partnering up with other students. “I can tell you that’s the worst way to look at it. You can help each other.

“Preparing in advance is the best way you can do it,” she adds. “It’s not an easy interview. When I first started preparing, I wasn’t answering the case well. I wasn’t speaking well to it and I didn’t know how to approach the answer.”

To this end, DeVito recommends students spread out their preparation and give themselves a solid month to prepare.

“I think the mistake people make is waiting to see if they get the interview then preparing during that crunch time which is sometimes two weeks,” she says. “You end up just becoming a robot trying to answer the structure of the case instead of understanding the topic.”

Another tip: rehearse aloud, DeVito says. “You have to do it out loud and talk it out. If you just write it, you’ll never learn how to speak the answer.”

On the other hand, over-preparing is another pitfall she warns others to look out for.

“That comes across as you just memorized how to answer, but you don’t really know how to solve the problem,” she cautions. “What I realized in the interview is that, in general, the problem-solving mindset is the same for every scenario. The way you think about the problem is always going to be the same.”

‘IF YOU GOT THIS OFFER, WE THINK YOU CAN SUCCEED’

All said and done, DeVito says it’s been a rewarding process to make it into McKinsey. “It really is. One associate partner, a Villanova alum, told me, ‘Abby, if you got this offer, we think you can succeed.’ That’s comforting to know because it is such a tough process.”  

She also describes the McKinsey culture and experience as motivating. “It’s a challenging environment,” she says. “Every day is super busy and we’re working really hard. But everyone at McKinsey is really, really smart. They want you to succeed, they want to succeed themselves, and they want to create impact for the client.”

Offering a final word of internship advice to others, DeVito says her best tip is to not get caught up in the brand name of a firm.

“It’s a little hypocritical of me to say when I’m interning at a firm such as McKinsey, but I chose to come here because in the interview process I really enjoyed talking to them. The people I interviewed with were intellectual and down to earth. It’s not about the name. It’s really about the mission of what the company is doing and who you’re working with.”

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