So you aced your fit and case interviews and are now getting ready to start as a new hire at McKinsey – congratulations! Whether as a McKinsey Business Analyst or Associate, you just landed what many consider to be a dream job. However, we’re sure you know by now – the real work is just getting started. Here are our top 5 tips and new hire advice as you embark on your consulting journey with McKinsey.
#1 – Get Familiar with Excel and PowerPoint
Believe it or not, it comes as a shock to some people that consultants spend ~70% of their days in Excel and ~20% in PowerPoint. Taken together, that’s 90% of your day! This is especially true as an incoming McKinsey Business Analyst. Consultants process vast amounts of data through Excel and need to present their findings via concise PowerPoint decks. The goal of the PowerPoint deck? Making sure the client never asks to see your Excel model. Here are some ways you can work on these skills:
- Online training – Companies like Chandoo, Udemy, Khan Academy and Breaking into Wall Street offer great courses. And of course, we created the world’s only Excel and PowerPoint courses specifically for consulting.
- Case competitions – If you are still in school, case competitions are a great way to build your data analysis and presentation skills within a project-oriented context.
- Local universities or technical colleges – If you prefer the in-class environment, try seeing if any schools around your area offer financial modeling, data-structuring, or presentation-building classes.
- YouTube – Probably one of the most underrated learning platforms out there is YouTube. Search pretty much anything you want to learn about Excel or PowerPoint, and someone has created a video for it. Just be aware – it’s tough to determine who the real experts are. Plus, you use Excel and PowerPoint differently in consulting as opposed to banking and other industries.
#2 – Read Good Consulting Books
If you are entering as a McKinsey Engagement Manager – or hope to get there soon – you’ll need more strategic insight. Though you’ll be provided excellent training both before you start and on the job, you’ll quickly realize that there is so much to learn in so little time as a McKinsey new hire. To help you get up to speed as fast as possible, here are a few of our recommended consulting books:
- The McKinsey Way – A former McKinsey consultant provides insider information on how to succeed in the challenging consulting environment and insight on McKinsey’s hypothesis-driven approach to problem solving.
- Flawless Consulting – Learn about the importance of developing and maintaining authentic relationships in the workplace. The author also encourages consultants to be inquisitive partners who ask good questions to discover the strengths and unique values of their clients.
- Pyramid Principle – Communication is an important skill required to be a successful consultant. Through learning this seminal concept, you’ll learn how to present your thoughts in a coherent and captivating way that will drive action.
#3 – Start Networking
As a McKinsey new hire, you have to build up credibility to have a successful McKinsey experience. If you’re smart, you will position yourself to be staffed on a project right away. Being selected first – especially starting as a McKinsey Business Analyst – will give you a jump on building your skillset and reputation. If you’re not as fortunate, however, you may be “on the bench,” waiting to be staffed.
As a McKinsey new hire, take the time to reach out to experienced and senior consultants, all the way up to Engagement Managers at McKinsey, to get to know them. Don’t go too senior – McKinsey Partners are busy and you’ll just annoy them. Staffing is not a fair process – more senior consultants make decisions on who to work with. If you’ve had a good conversation with an Engagement Manager, his or her request to have you on a project will be a key difference maker.
#4 – Find a Mentor
One key differentiator between successful and non-successful consultants: whether or not they find a good mentor. As you start your job, be on the lookout for senior consultants who you vibe with. Don’t just look for pedigree; instead, look for the ones who you connect with naturally. If they’re not invested in the relationship, what’s the point to begin with?
The best mentor-mentee relationships are a two way street. And when you’re a new hire at McKinsey, make as many friends on the job as you can to build out your network.
#5 – Take Some Time to Relax Before You Start
We just went over a lot of new hire advice for McKinsey. Enough to keep you busy and on your toes preparing for your new role! Just remember – be sure to take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve just put in so much time and effort getting into McKinsey. Now, savor the moment and take that backpacking adventure you put off to do case interview prep. Even if you’re already on your first project, take a weekend to decompress.
When working at McKinsey, you’ll always have work to do and more to learn. Coming into the job with a fresh and energized mindset is just as important as anything else when preparing for life at McKinsey.