MARCH 1, 2018 | BY EKIM BUYUK AND SHRUTI RAO
Jenna graduated from Duke in 2016 with a major in Econ, minor in Math, and an MMS certificate. While at Duke, she was involved in BOW, DBS, Duke/Durham Saves, and Alpha Phi. She is now a 2nd year Business Analyst in McKinsey's Atlanta office, where she focuses primarily on Travel, Transport, and Logistics work. Outside of work she loves going to farmers markets, hanging out with her boyfriend (it is possible to date and be a consultant!), and hosting dinner parties while she pretends to be a real adult.
What was your favorite part of being in BOW?
I loved getting to learn about new career options and hear from the women who had gone before me. Hearing from women in certain fields, outside of info sessions where they were trying to sell you on joining their company, was so helpful in helping me to understand what a particular job would look like and how it may line up with my passions and priorities in life.
Could you talk a little bit about your summer experiences while at Duke and how they influenced your career path?
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I spent 5 weeks at a wealth management firm and 5 weeks on a study abroad program in Brazil. I liked the people at the wealth management firm, but realized the work wasn't really what I wanted to do in the future. Sophomore summer, I did the Duke Engage program in Uganda (teaching 2nd grade and working in an orphanage). I loved the program in Uganda, and it helped me realize how important people are to me, so I knew I wanted a career where I would be interacting with people on an almost constant basis. I also realized that I had loved the opportunities to travel during the summer, so I knew I wanted to have a career that either allowed me to travel extensively, or that gave me enough PTO that I could go travel on my own :) Junior summer I interned at McKinsey in their Atlanta office. I loved my time there, and the team I was working with, and knew that I wanted to go back after graduation.
Could you talk a little bit about your role at McKinsey?
At McKinsey I am a business analyst. That basically means I am one of the people on the ground doing the work :) I am on one project at a time (I've done all travel, transport, and logistics work), and usually in a team ranging from 3-8 people. Every project (and every day) is different, but in my role you can expect a lot of meeting with clients, presentations, powerpoint work, and a bit of excel. I have been on 7 projects in my time here, and each "problem" we are solving is totally different!
How have you managed the lifestyle aspect of working in consulting?
I've been super protective over my lifestyle. I set expectations from the beginning of a project for the things that are important to me. I essentially set the expectation that I will get all my work done, but I will sleep 6-7 hours a night and not open my laptop on the weekends. Weekends are mine (starting Friday at 5pm) and that is how I make sure I am able to have a full life. Traveling does really help keep a separation of work and life, because I don't feel like I'm missing out on things during the week.
What was the most difficult obstacle you faced in your career?
Honestly, I don't think I've faced very many obstacles. Duke prepared me very well to be successful at McKinsey, and McKinsey has done a great job training me and providing me the resources I need, and empowering me to do well. One small obstacle is figuring out the best way to balance work and life and ensuring that I still have a fulfilling "life" while I build a career, but I think that's always a struggle in every stage of life.
What is something interesting you’ve learned along the way?
People are way more important than the actual work you are doing (at least for me). The people you surround yourself with (on teams and in offices) will make or break your experience, so make sure you're picking people who will support you and that you're on teams of people you have fun with!
What advice do you have for current Duke students trying to navigate their job search?
Talk to as many people as you can! Just reach out to recent grads and ask them questions about their day-to-day and their lifestyle and what they love and/or don't love about what they're doing. Ask about office cultures. Just get as much information as you can so that you can make the most informed decision. Also, it is super helpful if you don't first reach out during the recruiting season. We have full time jobs, and adding dozens of recruiting calls in (while important and fun and something that we enjoy) just means we get less sleep. If you reach out in off season, you are going to get way more engagement from us :)