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got internship offer instead of full-time position at McK

internship McKinsey offer
New answer on Sep 20, 2020
4 Answers
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asked on Sep 03, 2018


I was applying for BA role at McK, however did really bad (in my opinion) during final round. I was quite sure that I would get rejected, but instead I was offered an internship. The feedback was, that they were satisfied with my analytical skills as well as my personal fit, but I didn't show enough business judgement (indeed, I didn't). Therefore they could only offer me an internship position, as they said, as an extended trial period.

I finished my bachelor studies a year ago + have been working profesionally more than two years, advancing from intern, to junior, to regular position and most likely getting closer to another promotion, so taking this internship would be somewhat regress in my career. Therefore I have to make the decision whether it is worth it. I do really want to work in consulting and in general am a risk-taker, but I want it to be well-thought-out decision. Hence, I have two questions:

1. Have you ever heard of such a situation when somebody is offered internship instead of BA role which is the role they were applying for? If yes, what are you thoughts on that? I am just trying assess how likely I am to get full-time offer afterwards if I do the job well.

2. If I make the decision to accept the offer I will have 6-9 months before I start, so I would like to prepare as best as possible to maximize my chances. Excel is bread and butter for me, powerpoint will be easy to catch up on, so there is business judgement left. I am just curious how can I improve on this area apart from obvious ways like reading business stuff or being curious about business world in general. Are there any other specific ways?

I will be grateful for any thoughts on that.


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replied on Sep 03, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


First of all congrats on the offer. Answering your questions:

  1. I've only heard about similar cases with Bain. Well, it happens. I would not worry that much about the career slow down - McKinsey will bring you the fastest career you could have imagined. If you are concerned about the internship - I personally recommend applying to the other MBB companies since you have 6-9 months anyway. Chances are high you can get a better role there
  2. As for the business acumen, here are some thoughts:

Business Acumen is actually about building proper industry and functional knowledge.

Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of geting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

There are several sources of information that will help you develop the business sense:

1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies

2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries.

3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

4) Industry Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge

5) News, Industry blogs

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Margins
  • Key performance indicators
  • Key revenue drivers
  • Industry trends

I strongly recommend drawing the typical structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge:

  • Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc)
  • Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc)
  • Operations (Process optimization basics)
  • Finance (Very basic Finance and Valuation)

Good Luck

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replied on Sep 03, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

First good piece of news is, you clearly didn't do as bad as you thought :) Your situation is a bit odd, and I had not personally heard of this. Back when I applied, BCG had given me a verbal and asked if I'd wait a year because the incoming class was full, but at least I didn't have to give up a full time job and knew an actual offer would come vs just an intership in your case.

Still, the decision making process should be the same: how bad do you want it? If you think you may regret not taking this opportunity, then I suggest you accept. In 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years, you will always have McK on your resume, with the increased opportunities this will bring. And if you do get a full time job out of this, you will have obviously made the right call.

Consider now what you would lose by accepting the internship offer and not getting a full time offer out of it: How good is your current job? How closely does it align with what you want? There are no right and wrong answer, but my strong suggestion is to look beyond the short term pain of giving up a job and going back to being an intern; if you really want MBB, do it - there's no telling if and when you will have another chance at applying.

2nd part of your question, how to prepare... sure, you can work on your excel and even powerpoint skills if you want. I'd also do some storytelling, and read cases + business situations to improve my overall business sense. More than anything though, I'd mostly try to remain open minded and relish the opportunity to work at McK once you get there.

Congrats again, good luck

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Anonymous updated the answer on Sep 06, 2018

Hey Adam,

congrats also from me.

The case is unusual, but not unheard of, I have seen this with several companies. If you do well, chances are very high that you will be in a permanent position very soon. Maybe you can even negotiate that the internship time is added to your tenure in the BA position.

Reg. question 2, some other pointers: Read some fundamentals.
Here's a short (and probably incomplete) list

  • High Output Management and Only the paranoid survive by Andy Grove
  • The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
  • the Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
  • Competitive Strategy (or almost anything by Michael Porter)
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder
  • Stratechery (blog) by Ben Thompson

These will fundamentally improve your thinking!

Cheers and good luck!


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Anonymous replied on Sep 20, 2020

Hi A,

Congratulations on the offer!

I would say having a chance to do an internship at McK instead of a BA job is not that bad in comparison with if you'd been rejected. Furthermore, you are very likely to get a full-time offer after performing your job well.

So, if consulting is really what you are looking forward to, take the offer and do your best to get the BA position. Besides, an internship at McK will be considered as a strong background if you change your mind in the future and decide to apply to other firms.

As for your second question, you should definitely practice different types of cases. You can do it with peers (who have already got some experience in case interview) or with an experienced coach who can provide you proper explanations and guidance throughout the process.

In general, work on improving quick thinking and storytelling skills, networking, developing common business sense, and ability to adjust different approaches fitting to a situation.

Best, André

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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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