The end of my (undergrad) McK journey

Just writing this post to leave something for a long journey that's full of pain and tears and that does not have a happy ending.

Since my freshman year, I've set myself the goal of going into consulting and specifically, aiming for McK. I interned at a big name in my sophomore year and a tier 2 consulting firm in my junior year. I spent almost 200 hours preparing for case interviews and also thousands of dollars on coaching. I still remember how I did casing while doing my internship and going to bed at 1 or 2am everyday. I've practiced over 70 cases and every person I met told me (including those who've worked at McK) they think I got a good shot at the firm and I am a good candidate.

I had my interviews. First round went extremely well. However, in the second round, under stress and simply getting a really weird case, I knew I didn't give a good structure for one of the cases. In fact, that's probably one of the worst structures I've ever come up with. Although the last case went extremely well, after the interviews, I got the call telling me that I didn't get the McK offer that I dreamed about. The same call I received one year ago while I was applying to McK in my junior year and was rejected after the second round.

I don't know why I'm writing this post on this forum-in fact, I don't even know how to feel right now, other than feeling dead inside. I've always believed in hard work and believed that hard work forever pays. But it does not. I felt lost, and I don't know what to believe in to keep me going. What's really the point of hard work? And what's the point of life? Am I just a big joke? Is life a joke? I felt dead inside.

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Comments (24)

Aug 30, 2021 - 12:38am

it's just one company... if you are still this obsessed with landing McK, go Tier 2 or even B4 & then lateral after 1-2 years. Dozens of people do that every single year. You can also get an MBA at a target school and have 2 more chances to recruit for MBB from that route. This is by no means the end of the world if your lifelong goal is working at McKinsey

The only thing I think is a little ridiculous is that McKinsey literally helped engineer the Opiod crisis which lead to hundreds of thousands of people falling into addiction. Take a step back and think, why is that your dream firm?..

Aug 30, 2021 - 4:26am

If you think the point of life can be found in a mck offer, I feel deeply sad for you.

Most of us have been rejected at some point, take it it, reflect on the cause and leverage to improve yourself. Don't given in to despair for these silly reason

However, by being dead inside, you are already quite aligned with most consultants after realising the only meaningless thing is our job


  • 2
  • Intern in Consulting
Aug 30, 2021 - 1:02pm

I can relate to an extent to where you are coming from, as I applied to McK for SA, didn't get it but was told I was super close and to try again this year, only to not even get an interview for FT. I worked super hard on the feedback as well, so it was very disappointing to not even have a chance to prove myself again.

That being said, I don't regret putting in the work. I think through this process, I gained more confidence, refined my ability to articulate my thoughts, and generally developed a more structured and logical way of thinking about issues. These are valuable and broadly applicable skills, so if you improved on ANY of these, the effort was not wasted. 

I know the rejection stings and is all you can think about, but as other users have said, you can always try again later, and even now, there are tons of other firms you can apply to. This is certainly not the last time you will face rejection/disappointment and because you have so many other chances down the line, take this as a blessing and use it to become more resilient. Use this as an opportunity to overcome your defeatist attitude and that will do more for your career and long-term success than any Mck offer. 

Aug 30, 2021 - 1:40pm

I've worked for an MBB and a T2 firm and a T3 firm. Life has its ups and downs, but - as others have said - it is extremely unhealthy to tie your happiness to one specific firm.

Everyone gets punched in the face... not everyone gets back up.

  • Associate 3 in Consulting
Aug 30, 2021 - 1:59pm

Preparation puts you in a spot to maximize probability of an outcome, but cannot guarantee an outcome. Things are competitive and there are always moving parts & chance. Hopefully you didn't put all of your eggs in one basket, in which case you should have a great job after graduation

Honestly feeling dead inside because you didn't get a McK offer shows that you have a lot of room for personal emotional growth and refining your sources of validation and meaning. Hopefully this experience will help put you on that journey

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Aug 30, 2021 - 7:36pm

A lot of life and career is luck, and you got unlucky with that case. There is only so much you can control and luck you can make for yourself.

Don't beat yourself up, but be very proud of the effort you put in, learn your lesson (life is unfair often), and move on buddy! You can always apply in the future.

An in regards of where work sits in making people happy, this might be an important lesson if you can figure it out. I'll leave that up to you.

  • Prospect in Consulting
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:46am

Mate you are an absolute clown. McK obviously won't hire a beta cuck like you who starts crying because they got rejected. McK is full of Type A personalities and clearly you don't fit in.. Also wtf is 200 hours of case prep, this is obviously overkill.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Aug 31, 2021 - 12:28pm

Hey! We've absolutely all been there. First of all, congrats on getting to the final round both times. This shows that they definitely see something in you. Sometimes there are small things completely out of our control that can be the difference between an offer and no offer-- maybe the interviewer was having a bad day, you didn't sleep well the night before, etc. I've seen people who have done extremely minimal prep getting MBB offers, and when you prep a ton and don't make it, it is only natural to be really bummed. As others have said,sometimes it just isn't your day. This won't be the first or last time that it doesn't go your way.

I want you to take some time off to relax. Some may disagree, but I think it is absolutely okay to be bummed for a bit. Rejection sucks, and there is no way of sugar coating it. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for feeling bummed. However, also keep in mind that this will not last. Watch some Netflix, go for a walk, hang with some friends, etc.  As others have mentioned, McKinsey has done some shady stuff, spend some time reading articles about what they've done and think about what you avoided. I think you've done a good first step by venting here.

Undergrads hype up MBB a ton, but would things really be that different if you got an offer? Hear me out. Usually not getting something feels way worse than the joy we get from getting it. MBB is often a stepping stone to something else. Think about what that "what else" is for you. If it is McKinsey, which it sounds like it might be, you now have a ton of feedback you can reflect on and try to implement, and then try and lateral in next year (an MBA is of course also on the table, but i know whenever someone said that to me when i got rejected from my dream firm i always felt worse-- do i really want to be spending more money and time in school to just have an opportunity to try?). T2 firms are still fantastic, and to the vast majority, would still be an AMAZING place to work. Do you have a return offer from your internship?

Another thing you might not like to hear is your passion for McKinsey could be limiting you. Ie. when you go into the interview with so much passion, you will only naturally have more nerves than if you convince yourself it is lower stakes/ there is more to life. 

I am confident that given your work ethic, and success in the first round(s!), you will have a phenomenal career, and find things that give you fulfillment. Good luck my friend, and sorry again that the game didn't go your way... but remember that the season is still young :)

  • Prospect in Consulting
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:34pm

Really appreciate your comment-great points on reflecting on the "what else" and that it might be my passion that's limiting me. I was able to get a return offer and I'll keep my head up. As you said, the season is still young. Thanks again for this comment.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:05pm

This is a big ridiculous...

first of all, McK is probably the most selective large company in the world. You can't place all your hopes on that one. 

second of all, OK you prepared well but 1) other candidates do too 2) spending thousand of dollars on prep was a mistake, you could have done it for free ? 3) consulting recruiting is in good part based on luck and is kind of random sometimes especially if you're not minority/female

Didnt you apply to other consulting firms ?!

What experience do you have that differentiate you from other candidates ? They don't just care about GPA, they care about leadership and global mindset. Do you speak 3-4 languages fluently ? Have you lived in multiple countries ?Did you create a startup ? Your own student society? Did you participate in an association in Laos ? Do you skydive ? Do you play any sports at elite level ? Do you have any unique skillset that differentiate you from all the other HYPS kids ? 

if the answer to all of the above is no, you know what to do. 

  • Summer Associate in Consulting
Sep 4, 2021 - 1:40am

Most people at MBB aren't like that.  Like some are obviously, but not all for sure. One thing I will say is MBB loves D1 Ivy Athletes....

  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Sep 6, 2021 - 2:19am

You're right, things are not fair, and it's a good thing that you're learning this lesson before starting your career. Everyone has setbacks in their professional and personal lives, and *not* getting a job this early in your career will feel completely meaningless a few years down the line when you approach critical career junctions with much more to gain or lose.

I can tell that you were unhealthily obsessed with getting into McKinsey. Ask yourself why this was, and in what ways your alternative is so much worse? My guess is the prestige and halo effect of being associated with McK was appealing to you. I can tell you as someone who worked at a T2 briefly and then jumped to MBB, things are more similar than they are different. What distinguishes MBB in the marketplace is the internal processes, partner networks/ expertise, and knowledge management; the quality of people and skillset you will develop is roughly the same.

  • Prospect in Consulting
Sep 6, 2021 - 7:13pm

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