You guys are probably aware that McKinsey has 2 divisions that they hire in: Consulting and Research (supporting the consultants). A friend of mine received an offer from McK "Knowledge Network" as a Junior Research Analyst, and wants to know how good are his exit opportunities.
I assume not that good, correct? He's not doing any client facing work, brainstorming or anything like that, he will just collect and analyse data that consultants will need/use. I also have a feeling is much easier to get into McKinsey as a researcher than a consultant, it just doesnt have the same prestige, event though its McK, right? Its like the difference between FO and BO in a Bulge Bracket.
Now that he got this offer, I'm actually thinking about applying there myself just to get that "brand name" on my CV, as I bet not too many people outside MBB know about this Research division, and they would probably think I've worked as a McKinsey consultant :) I, personally didn't know about this difference (thought that when people say they work for McK they are consultants. ie. the real deal) and when he told me he got McK, I was like no way , especially because he's non-target, average GPA, average CV, nothing spectacular but then he told me about this Research division, as "backdoor" of entering McK, so yeah I want to hear your thoughts on this particular career route!
Can I go from McKinsey research to a consultant at McKinsey
Our users have shared a variety of different opinions regarding whether or not you can successfully transition between the research role at McKinsey and the traditional consultant role. It seems as if the career change is possible but not easy or guaranteed. Our users shared their thoughts below.
User @kalice123 shared that it is a very doable transition to make:
I know for a fact that it's doable. There was one girl who went to a non-target school, didn't get any consulting jobs out of college but landed McK research; did that for about a year or so, and converted to a Business Analyst in her second year. I believe she stayed for a third year and is about to go to one of H/S/W MBA. That was her strategy all along because she knew she wanted to do consulting, not research, but had to do that as a stepping stone.
User @chucanes shared that it is possible but not common:
I worked 2 years in an European office of McKinsey. I had a friend that was offered to join as a first year analyst track after 2 years as a research analyst. This is exceptional and he had been previously staffed in some engagements so he could make the transition. I would certainly not consider that a normal path...
User @m2 shared that it is a very difficult transition to make:
The wall between FO and BO in consulting is much harder than between FO and BO in S+T. I think it's borderline impossible to make this move directly -- I have never heard of this happening.
If you think that McKinsey Research gives you a 'brand on your CV' this is right, but only among people who really have got no clue about how the business works, not really PE/startup/corporate management!
What Does a Research Analyst at McKinsey Do?
McKinsey research analysts, at least those in an industry group and not at a knowledge center, are client facing, with a per diem paid for by clients, and are a source of profit for the firm, not an expense like operations.
That being said, it is definitely not operations/administration work.
If you want to learn/have a passion for a specific industry, I would suggest there are few better opportunities than doing this with McKinsey. Also, as a BA you are a generalist, therefore you work maybe 5 months on a study in oil & gas, 6 months on a study in Insurance, 2 months on a study in consumer goods, 4 months on a study in Pharma, etc, etc...and then you leave and get an MBA without having gained in-depth industry experience. That isn't a bad thing, obviously, but research analysts in industry groups, while not getting the broad experience, get staffed on and develop expertise in the specific industry they cover, as they are immersed in this 24/7.
From people I know, if you want Pharma or Retail or whatever, this is a great launch into that specific industry and the people I know who have done it have gone on to MBA's at UChicago & Columbia. MBA creds are probably slightly less than a BA, but the McKinsey name still carries with you and partners wrote rec's for these people. After b-school (depending on where you go), things even out and you can go back as an associate or move into the industry you like or go do whatever.
I've heard the main reason it isn't well known is because there are actually very few of them and it isn't a direct campus hire-recruitment program like the BA.
You can read more about McKinsey on the Wall Street Oasis Company Database.
Read More About McKinsey on WSO
- How To Get A McKinsey Interview
- Don't Waste Your 20s At Google Or McKinsey
- Choosing McKinsey V Bain MBA Internship
Need Help Preparing for Consulting Case Interviews?
Land at an elite consulting firm with the most comprehensive case interview prep in the world. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to land the most coveted jobs.