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McKinsey Trap

Look / If you had / One shot / Or one opportunity / To seize everything you ever wanted / In one moment / Would you capture it / Or just let it slip?

Eminem was wrong. You don’t get only one shot. You get at a least a few. In fact, if you just put yourself out there, you can get as many shots as you want.

My hangover was over and I already started thinking if I really wanted to continue doing this in 2017. It was 1st of January, so I guess the perfect time to ask philosophical questions.

I looked through some few jobs portals, but there wasn’t much interesting stuff in the market for sales positions.

So I applied to McKinsey and Bain&Co.

Why shouldn’t I? Most of my ex classmates dreamed of working there. Everybody things highly of these companies. Am I not that smart enough or what?

MV: “McKinsey, are you kidding me? You don’t like suits. You don’t like rules. You don’t want to be a slave. What is going on?”

DD: “I do not know what you are talking about.”

2 days later I got a reply:

“Your profile looks interesting. Could you please send a cover letter?”

A what? Cover letter? Do people still write them?

I had no idea how to write a one, so I just started Google-ing.

I found an article written by the type of person that tries too hard to impress people. She wrote something like…

“McKinsey is the top of the league. Every word that you write counts. Your cover letter has to be perfect. I spent one week writing mine.”

Say what?

Does she think a recruiter analyzes the application word by word and says “Neah… this lady missed a comma here. And she didn’t write the word “passion” at all. Neeeext please”?

Anyway. I just wrote two paragraphs, re-read them to make sure there are no big mistakes and sent it.

Less than 24h later I got invited to the next stage.

dreaming... 5 hours after reading that email

dreaming… 5 hours after reading that email

I was already thinking about all the money I could make and how nice my LinkedIN profile would soon look like.

I guess coming from Copenhagen Business School is a big deal in Bucharest.

But then I found out what the next stage consists of: the PST test.

Each time I tried practicing it I ended up with a headache.

After a few days of preparation I realized that the only way I could answer correctly to more than 80% of the questions (percentage required to pass) was if I had prior knowledge of that topic / industry. Otherwise I would overthink the details and not finish in time.

Or at least that’s how I tried convincing myself that I can be smart on a lucky day.

Anyway. The day came.

It was freezing outside and there was so much snow one to swim in order to move forward. I got my winter boots, my kind-of-baggy-jeans and a decent shirt and I was ready for that “one shot”.

perfect weather to go to mckinsey

perfect weather to nail MicKinsey’s PST

After 45 minutes I got to their office. During all this time I was listening to Future and I was asking myself “how ridiculous is this? I’m banging my head on this trap music while thinking that I can be a great consultant but not really caring about it?”.

Anyway. I arrived there, went to test room or “it’s now or never room”, took a seat and then heard:

“So you took the seat closest to the boss, ha?”

I actually wanted to take her chair, but it doesn’t have a good view over the window.

Anyway. I sit and wait, while making some more chit chat.

The first candidate shows up only with a suit on him. Then the second.

How did these guys get here? I could barely walk with my winter boots and they wear Oxfords. And how the hell didn’t they freeze? Their clothes are twice slimmer than mine, it’s -0 degrees and the only thing they seem to care about is not destroying the haircut.

Anyway. One of the suits started talking with a slightly shaky voice bragging and trying to make a joke at the same time. I guess he was trying to look cool.

let's talk about the leverage and the key takeaways at EOD

“let’s talk about the leverage and the key takeaways at EOD”

The test started. 2 hours later my head was spinning. All the exams I have taken until that point seemed to be a stupid joke compared to this one.

At the end I realized I had no idea if I nailed it or made a complete disaster.

And that’s how I knew I messed it up.

2 aspirins and 6 hours later my head was still spinning.

A few days later I got the results and it turned out I am not as smart as I thought.

It seems like I missed one of my shots. What now, Em?

MV: Well, he said that it has to be “everything you ever wanted”. I think in this case your mentality was “let’s just try it and see how it goes”.

DD: Yes, but if I’d think that each one of my shots is the only one, I’d get depressed after my first failure. How can one learn if he doesn’t fail?

MV: I like what you are saying. However, I believe you are now failing in an artificial way. You try one thing, but you like to have other options on the table as well. You like having a back-up plan, so you know that no matter how wrong something goes, you have other things that can save the day.

DD: Isn’t that what sales is all about? Having as many options as possible?

MV: Yes, but a great salesman treats each of his options with a high level of responsibility. You are now focusing in too many directions. It is good that you are thinking about different paths that will have a big impact on your future. What is not good is that you don’t commit to one thing without thinking about back-ups plans.

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