May 4, 2023
Justin Smith is from Fairfax, Virginia and uses he/him pronouns. He is a senior who is set to graduate this May!
Justin will be working for McKinsey & Co. after graduation.
We asked Justin to share both his post-graduation plans and Pamplin experiences with us.
How did you pick your major or concentration? Does it relate to your job?
I chose MGT - MCA and BIT - DSS mainly because I was looking for a strong foundation in business and liked the fit between both these majors to give both a more personal development and higher level major with a more specific technology major. I’m an incoming Business Analyst for McKinsey & Co. MCA relates exactly with what I will be doing. Arguably I’m more prepared from my MCA coursework with project experience, consulting tools, and a foundational industry knowledge than most of my new colleagues who received liberal arts degrees.
How did you find your job? What is your job title and what do you think you will do for them?
I applied online to McKinsey for an internship for sophomore summer and heard nothing back. I applied again for the junior internship the next year and at least received a rejection email. The summer prior to my senior year I once again applied online with just a resume and cover letter, was interviewed, and received a Business Analyst role. As a business analyst I’ll train for probably two months after starting and then will go straight to supporting projects. My role will be basically to analyze and solve a pressing issue for any client organization in a 2-3 week project timeline. I’ll be focused on mainly business strategy related projects for Fortune 100 clients.
What do you think the day-to-day roles and responsibilities will be in your position?
Most of the work I will do daily will range from meeting with clients to team working sessions working on research and solutions and probably would include some traveling to and from client sites around the world.
How did you find out about this position and how was the recruitment process?
McKinsey has been a dream company of mine for quite some time. Aside from being the premier organization for consulting in the world, I’d loved every interaction with the people, articles from the company, and stories I’d heard before I applied. They recruit every year, and I didn’t really know anyone at the company to directly talk to, so I really just applied online after loads of my own research. The recruitment process is very in depth. It started with some informal interview chats with other business analysts and meeting with the specific recruiter that pulled your file. After that, I interviewed online for 3 hours in my first round with a series of mid-level managers. After making it through round 1, I had 3 hours of partner interviews in round two. Each individual interview was 1 on 1 for an hour with a 45 minute case and 15 min behavioral portion. While all that interviewing sounds like a lot, it happened in the course of two weeks, and they called the night of your interview to schedule the next round and also to offer the job.
McKinsey has been a dream company of mine for quite some time. Aside from being the premier organization for consulting in the world, I’d loved every interaction with the people, articles from the company, and stories I’d heard before I applied.
What are you looking forward to in starting your new position?
So many things. I’d say I’m really excited to meet and work with my starting cohort of Business Analysts. To me they have such unique experiences and cool educational backgrounds that I’m just in awe of. I think another thing I’m excited about is the actual work, traveling, and client interactions. Consulting at this level really is aligned with my passion so I’m quite excited for my everyday role because it is such a cool opportunity.
Where is your current job located? Are you excited about your work site?
I’ll be in the Washington D.C. office on 19th and M. I’m very excited to work in D.C. I think it’s a great working environment near my home and can serve as my working hub especially with the opportunity I'll have to travel a decent amount from there.
Please give a brief description of job, internship, and or school leadership positions that you led to your future career:
Internships: I interned my junior summer with Deloitte doing management consulting in their government and public services sector; my sophomore summer I interned with Rehau in their innovations division doing financial modeling and new venture planning; my sophomore fall and spring I interned part time with Bryce Tech doing space technology research and data analytics.
University: I have three main involvements on campus: Consulting Group, SEED, and Cru. I joined the consulting group back in spring of 2020 and eventually became the Director of Organizational Development handling our interviews and training the associates program. I joined SEED in the fall of 2020 and eventually became the Chief Investment Officer handling our investment strategy as well as placing trades and tracking performance. I’ve been a part of Cru since my first semester freshman year and have led a men’s bible study the past three years and eventually became the production team leader handling our sound and lighting equipment for all of our events.
What do you want to accomplish within your first year?
I really want to embrace my new role and meet as many new people as possible and do as many broad projects as I can get my hands on. It isn’t really about competing with my co-workers at all as much as it is putting a year of valuable lessons under my belt while I’m growing my own personal and professional development. If I could be known as the guy in the office willing to take on anything and always over-deliver I’d be extraordinarily pleased.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I could see myself still at McKinsey in 5 years. Like I said it was my dream company and has lots of room for growth for me there. I would love to be returning to McKinsey after pursuing an MBA after 5 years, but we will see. I’d hope to be looking at a career trajectory leading to manager roles by that time as well. Personally, I still see myself calling the D.C. area my home and would hope to consider starting a family by that time as well.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue the same career as yours?
I think there are three things to commit to when considering a career in high-level consulting: academics, leadership involvement, and personal growth. Find what is right for you and then devote yourself to excelling at all three.
Academics: These are just so vitally important not because you’ll remember every quiz and test question or each project’s lessons but because you are signaling that you are not only capable but also disciplined enough to be trusted, given responsibility, and perform. This is just the baseline to get your foot in the door and it’s not saying you're any sort of IQ genius, but it really reflects your determination, discipline, and sacrifice.
Leadership Involvement: This one builds on academics because you should be filling your time with something you think will be practicing your career (for me: Consulting Group) something that will stretch your understanding and learning (for me: SEED) and something to keep your mind and soul grounded (for me: Cru) Being a leader is the natural progression of being passionate about your involvements there and actually leaving an impact on others. It’s important especially when translating to a role in consulting that you need to make decisions, direct others, and recommend a path to have practiced all of those things in settings that are aligned with who you want to be.
Personal Growth: This can take the form of multiple things, but a role in consulting requires you to be highly self-aware and personable. It doesn’t mean you need to be everyone’s favorite friend but more so that you can be a mature, quality adult and a person that your peers can rely on to be consistent, honest, and grounded.
What type of student would you recommend to apply to this job and why? (This may include a student's interests, what they are good at, characteristics etc.)
I think everyone interested in consulting should give it a shot and apply. In many ways, students that have an excellent record in the classroom, have clear involvement and desire to serve in an organization they love, and have broad business interests are great candidates. Consulting is about wielding the sword of business to its fullest mastery in any situation so if that excites you then absolutely pursue it. The career is also not for everyone, and I think it requires someone that can appreciate a long working process, can be adaptable and growth-oriented, and can drive change.
What is your favorite part of being a management and or Pamplin student?
Our professors are fantastic and honestly kind of are our biggest fans; they’re just such great people with such a heart for their students and bring a wealth of knowledge to the classroom. I think that goes for all of Pamplin. I’ve enjoyed the contagious learning environment and the culture and mission of our program that shines through our student organizations. I think the Management department and all of Pamplin do a great job at offering involvement in classes and student groups that are just elite opportunities afforded to all of us.
What is your LinkedIn?