A Leap Ahead: A Vet’s Experience with the Mckinsey Military Fellowship!

Today we have the pleasure of hosting a veteran writer who was successful in arranging a Mckinsey Military Fellowship. Below, they detail the program, application, interviews, and onboarding process and tips that helped them succeed.

For many veterans exiting the military, the recipe for employment post transition is tried and true. Get into a top school. Endure the recruiting process and accept an internship at a top firm. Succeed during the internship and pray you get the return offer. All of this occurs while juggling completing school and figuring out how to be a civilian. What if there was a way to skip the degree and land the dream job?

Enter the McKinsey Military Fellowship.

Late last year McKinsey and Company announced a flagship program offering transitioning Veterans the opportunity to participate in a 10-week internship at the firm prior to exiting the military as part of the DoD SkillBridge.

Their goal: recruit veterans and prepare them for Associate positions without taking the traditional route of a Master’s program.

The Application

The firm started advertising the internship in early October and held a few virtual Q&A sessions with McKinsey veterans and recruiters before the application went live. Overall, the application was straightforward. It asked for the normal information plus a one-page resume, college transcripts, and GRE/GMAT scores. After applications were due, the Fellowship Recruiting team held a number of case interview prep sessions and applicants completed Solve, McKinsey’s game, before releasing interview decisions.

My tips for a successful application:

Start early. Allow yourself enough time to compile the required documents, take the GREs, begin learning about the case interview process, and maybe even start utilizing some study aids such as RocketBlocks.

Review Your Resume. This is probably the most important thing in the application process. De-jargon your resume as best you can and be succinct in each bullet. Limit it to one page and use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. Once you have a working draft, send it to someone to review and continue refining the document up until the day you apply.  This may seem excessive, but a professional resume free of spelling errors that communicates your experience in civilian terms will set you apart from other candidates.

Take “Solve, McKinsey’s game” seriously and don’t try to figure out the trick as to what they’re looking for. Put aside time in a quiet place where you can solely focus on the game. Go into it with an open mind, don’t overthink your methods and just try your best! I’m not sure how they use this to screen applicants, but there are thousands of ways to “win” so make sure you just do it your own way. Be authentic!

The Interviews

When I received an interview, McKinsey linked me in with a mentor from the firm who was a Veteran to help me with serious preparation for the case interviews. It was a huge help and I was shocked at how effective the mentors were with coaching applicants. I could tell that everyone there wanted each applicant to get the job, and they were very generous with their time to answer the questions we had.

Prior to scheduling the interviews candidates had a screening call with the recruiters to confirm eligibility, talk about their interests, and put in preferences for which office they wanted to work in if they were successful. The team was very accommodating and didn’t mind which office I chose. The recruiting team was very up front with how in-depth the interview process would be in the information sessions.

We then had two rounds of two case interviews. The first round was with Associates and the second was with Partners. After the first round they narrowed the applicant pool down and provided feedback to those who were selected to move on. The interviews were conducted back-to-back over zoom, but McKinsey tried to accommodate everyone’s schedule as best they could. After the interviews concluded they notified hires by phone and email to outline the onboarding process. When it was all said and done over 500 people competed for 10 slots.

What helped me succeed here?

Coaching: McKinsey was extremely helpful in preparing me for the interviews; however, I leaned on a lot of connections external to McKinsey to help me learn how to case. Whether it was people going through the recruiting process at school or current consultants who had been hired; any spare time they could run through a case with me, I took.

Working on storytelling: While the biggest piece of the interviews is the case, another important aspect of them is the personal experience section. Here candidates will have to talk about how they have had personally made an impact in their work experience. The best thing you can do is come up with a few examples of significant leadership challenges, or times that you have been faced with adversity and the actions that you took to be successful. While most Veterans have no issues talking about leadership or challenges, you need to work on the story. Be concise and succinct and don’t ramble. Outline a few of your stories and then tell them to your friends and see what they think!

What I would have done differently

I underestimated how intensive a case interview can be. There is almost a cadence to how the interview should be conducted and it is something that has to be learned in addition to getting through frameworks, brainstorming, and the public math of a case. As soon as I applied I should have started to chip away at practicing the interview. Because I waited until after I was offered an interview, I was behind the power curve, felt rushed, and was not as polished as I could have been on the case sections.  

On Boarding

This is still on-going for the inaugural cohort! I will be sure to keep you updated after the fellowship concludes in May, but from my initial interactions with everyone at McKinsey, I am thrilled to begin working for the company. It is unreal how invested people are in my success already, and there is real enthusiasm within the firm about beginning this SkillBridge opportunity. Getting here was a lot of work and I’m sure the internship will be challenging, but the opportunity to be hired as an Associate without the MBA will be worth it!

I hope this post generates more interest in this amazing opportunity. Keep an eye out for when McKinsey start’s accepting applications for next year’s cohort! $

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