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McKinsey Atrévete: Interview with Sara Cabral (IE Bachelor in Business Administration)

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work for McKinsey? Sara Cabral – an IE student in her penultimate year of the Bachelor in Business Administration – spent two days living the life of a management consultant after winning an invitation to McKinsey Atrévete, a unique event for undergraduate and graduate students across Spain. Of the nationwide applications received, 20 finalists traveled to Toledo to learn from a team of McKinsey analysts, partners, and recruiters. IE Talent & Careers caught up with Sara upon her return to hear about her experience.

Sara’s Experience with McKinsey Atrévete

Can you tell us a little more about the McKinsey Atrévete Event? What does it consist of?

McKinsey Atrévete is an immersion-like experience into a consulting project. It was held in Toledo and we stayed there for a night with the McKinsey team, which consisted of junior business analysts, senior partners, and recruiters.

Basically, we were introduced to a complex problem a client was facing. The program was very intense and dynamic. Sometimes we were all together in a classroom where we were presented with background data and different techniques and procedures to follow in order to solve the issue, while other times we had to work on a specific step in meeting rooms with our assigned team. We learned a wide range of consulting skills and had the opportunity to put them into practice in role plays.

We also socialised and had lots of fun with other types of activities. I can’t give you the details of them because it would be a spoiler . . . Next edition, apply to find out!

What do you think are the benefits of participating in an event like this? What would you highlight about your experience?

I got deep insights into McKinsey and the consulting industry by living a real experience, while also building up my CV. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in consulting, or the industry draws your attention but you’re not quite sure about it, attending this kind of event will tell you a lot about what it’s like to work as a consultant. In my case, I turned out to be so excited that the experience motivated me to go one step further and apply for a summer internship in consulting.

In addition, you can make the most out of what you learn in the event by acquiring important skills. They actually taught us how to break up problems into small pieces in order to tackle all of them more effectively, how to structure our train of thought based on business logic, how to prioritize tasks, issues, and steps to take, and how to build relationships with stakeholders and clients. We put into practice analytical skills, teamwork coordination, interviews as a research method, and presentation skills.

How do you think your IE University experience and/or the support of IE Talent & Careers helped you obtain this opportunity?

I heard about of this event thanks to the Talent & Careers weekly newsletter. As a third year Bachelor in Business Administration student searching for summer internship opportunities, the Talent & Careers team highly encouraged me to apply to as many events as I was interested in. The Talent & Careers advisors also helped me prepare for the application process by giving me very useful tips and material to construct my CV and cover letters successfully. Many university students across Spain complain there is a lack of guidance from universities into investigating different paths for our professional life. However, we are lucky IE has this department that advises you and helps you find the appropriate career path. Participating in events like this one can really help you determine what path to take or which options to discard.

The IE University experience also played a role in this opportunity thanks to its alumni network and clubs. I was able to speak to IE alumni that are currently working in consulting firms and could share their experience and advice with me. In addition, I joined the IE Consulting Club, where I have met other students interested in consulting to share insights and skills as well as help each other prepare for selection processes in the industry.

What would you say to other students interested in applying to future editions?

This event is very competitive; many students across Spain apply and few get chosen. Therefore, really tailor your CV for the company and find ways to portray on paper how you stand out from other candidates. The motivation letter is a great opportunity to show this. Tell them more about who you are, what and how you think, and what things define you that don’t show up on your CV. Show them how you feel about yourself and about the company, the industry, and the opportunity.

Even though McKinsey is very demanding on academic performance, academics alone are not enough. They are interested in motivated, hard-working people that not only shine because of their grades but because of their passions, extra-curricular activities or hobbies, and additional experiences such as internships or competitions.

Last but not least, if you are interested in consulting or are curious about it, I really encourage you to apply to future editions. It is the best, most enriching, and most enjoyable event I have attended!

The McKinsey Atrévete Application Process

On the application process, Sara added, “It was very simple but also very competitive. No interviews were held, they directly selected participants based on these documents. It was very hard to get invited – only 20 students from all over Spain were selected. As a general rule, universities were not repeated, and if they did, the students were from different bachelors or different degree levels. In my case, for example, I was the only IE University student to attend but there was also an IE Master student.”