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How to Land an Internship at McKinsey?

One of the best ways to get your foot in the consulting door is through an internship with a well-known consulting firm.

The McKinsey internship is one of the highest-ranking management consulting internships in the world. Interns are considered from a variety of different educational backgrounds. McKinsey only accepts 1% of its pool of candidates into its internship programme. 

Read on to learn more about landing an internship with McKinsey.

Which Internship Programmes does McKinsey have?

McKinsey has two internship programmes.

The first internship programme recruits undergraduates who have either graduated or who are still studying towards their first degree. The second internship programme recruits MBA students or graduates. 

What kind of work can I expect to be doing as a McKinsey intern?

At McKinsey, interns are valuable. Interns work on the same level as permanent full-time consultants and assist on big matters from the get-go. As an intern, you will be doing a lot of the grit work behind consulting work. This ranges from data collection, client research, and meeting with clients and interviewing them. Interns report directly to their supervising Engagement Manager who may be a senior Business Analyst or Associate. 

How long is an internship at McKinsey?

Both internship programmes are normally around 10 weeks long, but this may vary by a few weeks depending on location. 

When Should I start Applying for my internship at McKinsey?

McKinsey opens its applications as early as seven months before the deadline for its intern programme. Applications normally close around mid-October each year. If you are interested in applying for the next round, make sure to check their website as dates may differ for different offices. 

Also consider that passing McKinsey’s three tests will require preparation, so ensure that you put your study schedule on a clear timeline as well. Potential interns who pass the initial stages but fail the tests are placed on a three year ‘ban’ before being able to re-apply to the intern programme. 

What are the qualifying criteria to be selected as a McKinsey intern?

Interns are expected to at least be studying towards a recognised undergraduate degree at a recognised institution. 

Intern applications are considered from as early as a junior undergraduate or a non-business master programme, whereas MBA interns can be at any level of their MBA programme. This is because interns are expected to have at least some work experience under their belt, which is normally also a requirement for MBA programmes. 

McKinsey recruits interns with less than two years of work experience. Outstanding academic performance is a must at such a highly esteemed company. 

As with most big consulting firms, McKinsey does show a preference for certain universities. These target universities include the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and the University of Michigan from which it draws the highest percentage of all intern recruits, being 6%, respectively. McKinsey hires roughly 46% of all its interns from its target universities. On the up side, this still means that most interns come from non-target universities. 

How will an internship at McKinsey benefit me?

Firstly, the title of McKinsey intern has bragging rights. Getting into a McKinsey internship programme tells future employers and clients that you are a top-tier consultant and will perform well. Secondly, McKinsey interns are paid almost $7,000 a month at undergraduate level, totalling roughly $17,500 for a full 10-week period. MBA interns are paid almost $32,000 for the same period of time. This salary is higher than most major tech companies, let alone consultancies.  

How to stand the best chance to land an internship at McKinsey?

It is recommended that you follow a six-step process to secure your internship at McKinsey. The steps are as follows:

  1. Learn skills and gain qualifications.
  2. Network from an early stage before applying for an internship.
  3. Ensure that you have a professional resume and cover letter prepared.
  4. Pass McKinsey’s PST test.
  5. Pass McKinsey’s PEI test.
  6. Finally, pass McKinsey’s Case Interview.

What is McKinsey’s Three Tests About?

The first test is the Problem Solving Test (PST). This is a written test that tests mental abilities, data interpretation, verbal, numerical and logical reasoning. The outcome of this test determines which candidates move on to the Case Interview phase.

The second test is the Personal Experience Interview (PEI) test. This is also known as the ‘Fit Interview’ test. This is a short test where the candidate is asked about a specific event in their life. Whilst retelling the event like a story, the interviewer makes notes on how your consulting insights were put to use to perceive, address and resolve the problem successfully. More details about this specific test is available on this link:

There is no surprise here – the third and final test is the Case Interview. You will be given a set of business facts and be expected to solve the business case of problem as though the interviewer were your client and you, their consultant. These are 30 – 45 minutes long, and candidates are expected to go through 2 to 4 such interviews before completing the battery of tests.

What Can I Expect after Completing an Internship at McKinsey?

Getting an internship may be difficult, but once you have your foot in the door, the chances of being retained in the company are high. 

The difference between the two internship programmes is that undergraduate interns who are chosen to stay on at McKinsey are recruited into Business Analyst positions. On the other hand, MBA interns are recruited into Associate positions. 

As with all consulting firms, there is a defined career path within the company, and interns move up the chain every two to three years. The move up the ladder is however faster at McKinsey than at most consulting firms.  


  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.