Why I did not convert to fulltime on Google and went to Mckinsey in London: decryption of the air
June 30 at 20:00 in our instagram account spoke Vlad Vlad Rau - Senior Digital Analyst in the London office of McKinsey Digital Labs.
She told why she didn’t go to full time on Google, how McKinsey works and about her way to IT.
We share the record and transcript of the broadcast.
My name is Vlad, I work in London, in consulting McKinsey, they occupy project/data engineering. I don’t know how many have heard about such a concept, but our company is part of the Big Three: McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain.
We have several large departments. The first is the McKinsey Strategy. McKinsey Digital is also a strategy, only more digital-oriented; and inside this department there is Digital Ops - there I am. We have guys who have hands-on experience and skillset in certain areas - product engineering, data engineering, design, just product/agile. We have 2 main types of projects. Design work is when client companies come to us to solve their problems, and it takes from several weeks to months, depending on the project.
I am engaged in data/product engineering, and this also happens in different ways; Now I deal with more data analytics, that is, projects - analytical. In the previous year, I was engaged in a type of project called digital business building - this is when inside the corporate structure they want to create a new digital asset - in fact, a new “daughter” to be more digital-innovative, digital transformation and so on. We help to do this from scratch, and this is a rather interesting experience for those who, for example, want to make a startup in the future, because this, in fact, is a startup, only in a safe environment. This experience really helps you in the future - that is, you do not just work fulltime in a large corporation.
I have been working for almost 2 years. Prior to that, I interned twice at Google in a Dublin office, officially was a business intern. I have a rather interesting way in IT, now we’ll just talk about it.
IT is a rather mixed concept. It is not necessary to be able to program or have some unusual skills to work in these areas. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions - people often say: "this is not mine, I am not a programmer, I am not a technical person." In addition to programmers, there are project/product managers, large marketing departments and other interesting areas.
Initially, I wanted to go into business management; when everyone was determined with universities at school, I wanted to get a business degree. My first education is the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University in the direction of “information management”. The first two years there is a general track, then you decide on the profile. You can go to finance, marketing, logistics, HR, information management, international management. I realized that I want to go to the IT direction - so that there is a business direction, but in the technical field. This is a very interesting setup, because at some point in your career it’s not so important how good you are, and softskills, communication skills, strategic thinking, business logic and so on become more important.
During my undergraduate studies, I realized that I also want to have technical skills because I wanted to go as a product manager. I entered the St. Petersburg branch of the Yandex Data Analysis School, but did not finish it - it was very difficult to combine a multidisciplinary education. It often happened that in the classroom they said - “we will not explain it, they go to the university” - I had, in fact, two very different degrees at the same time.
I studied there for two years and went to academy; formally, I can recover now, but so far there is no such need.Of course, it was necessary at some point to go on an internship, and I decided to go to a large IT company; Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google are some of these.
But, basically, there was more communication - that is, as I said, in order to work in IT, you do not need to have super-skills and be the god of C++. It’s more important to understand what exactly you want. IT is a very diverse field, everyone can find what he likes. If someone says “IT is not mine,” I think that this person simply does not invest enough time in research.
How to learn English in order to be able to learn? What should be the minimum level? I know that B2, but it’s one thing to write a test, and another to learn Old and learn.
It’s hard for me to answer this question, because I realized quite early that without it, nowhere. When I entered the university, I already passed the exam in English, the school was at a fairly good level. I was still studying myself. The university also has a 3-4 course, all in English, that is, a very good investment in the language. The only thing I can definitely advise is to do as much as possible in the language. Read books, watch TV shows, communicate as much as possible in English, talk with people on different topics.
Even if you make mistakes - from the fact that you try and improve your level, your interlocutors will be pleased. Watch multilingual YouTube interviews, different things. For myself, I noted the phrases that native speakers say, and tried to embed them in my language. In general, here - only practice. I know that for the intern, in principle, B1 is enough - to live in the country fully and communicate with the native. For example, I am the only Russian-speaking in the department, around me there are only native people and people with good English.
Sometimes it happens that in high-tech teams - for example, in the London office of Facebook - every third person speaks Russian, this is already an inside joke with us, and this greatly interferes with integrating into the culture and correctly setting the language. You need to constantly push yourself, maintain the motivation to learn and speak the language. But, as already mentioned, B1 is enough for the intern. The first screening-call from a recruiter is a test for understanding and language proficiency: the ability to respond to standard phrases and resolve standard situations: maybe even level C1 is here.
This is another thing that pushes many people away from careers abroad and generally from careers in large companies. They always think that “we still have to learn a bit” before starting. I just have such a creed in life: the worst that can happen is just another reject, we must try so as not to regret the missed opportunity later. If you want to achieve something, be sure to invest in this time and try.
Where to start promotion in IT without a computer science education?
You must first understand what you like. I would start with research - what happens in IT, what is the hi-tech industry, what skills are needed, what do you want to do. Then already, if you dwell on any coding stories and want to learn how to write in some programming language, I would choose a side project for myself.
That is, if you want to develop applications, think of a use case for yourself and make an application for it. Now on YouTube and in other places there are a huge number of different free materials, and even paid ones too. Opportunities exist, you just need to understand what you want and move in this direction. There is definitely a Product Management School from San Francisco on YouTube, and there are very good product lectures there. Many conferences are now made in video format and are free. You can google right now, which conferences are held online, what are the meetings, and go there. Determine what you like, what skills and knowledge you need, and gain them. That is, it is not necessary to get a computer science degree - I do not have it, but I still write code at work. It is not necessary to complete a computer science center or Yandex SHAD, a lot of everything is optional. The main thing is to have a desire and invest a sufficient amount of effort and time.
What are the features of Google's business internships?
They are very different, and you should be very lucky with the team. There are standard sales/marketing team - they are also excellent, but not everyone likes it. There is a very large cloud-team, there are People ops-team, there is GTech - different internal solutions for Google itself. I am very glad that I got to People ops. My first internship was that we automated the process of generating offers - that is, contracts that you then sign. It so happened that I saved the company many business days - for example, the process used to take 40 minutes, and after my internship - 5 minutes.
That is, business internships at Google are more related to business logic and softskills. Other types of internships (SRE, SWE) involve the development of technical skills, but I did not notice a large segregation between business interns and tech interns. I could attend a wide variety of trainings; I went to most in-person technical sessions in Dublin while I was on an internship, except, for example, SRE Bootcamp. Another feature: if you are trying to write code, for example, as a business intern, sometimes access troubles arise, because formally you are not a software engineer; although these things are pretty easy to solve, and there’s no particular problem.
The next feature is the selection process. There are no standard interviews on a business internship, like cracking the coding interview. It is clear that this does not mean that if you have passed it, then the internship is received and nothing more needs to be done. If there are 2-3 interviews at the SWE internship, then there will be an additional conversation , maybe about design, but, most probably not; it’s more likely to determine if you understand what the conversation is about and some behavioral questions about “how much you are on Google”. If translated into Russian, I would say that this criterion determines how much you want this person to be part of the team, how much he has a collaborative mindset. Then it will be possible to look further.
I had 3 or 2 interviews at business internships, except for the call of the recruiter. They were more case studies; Those who have been selected for standard strategic consulting should understand what I'm talking about. That is, I have some kind of situation, and at that moment the guys already knew about what I would do. This is a pretty interesting feature of Facebook and Google. That is, Facebook has a headcount: when you receive an offer, for an internship or for full time, you already understand which team you are going to. Due to the fact that there is this headcount, many guys can’t find a team and get an offer for full time or an internship at Google, when they give you an offer on Facebook, if you are “smart enough”, and you already deal with the team, project and so on. And the trainee, in the same way, is told for 2-3 weeks.
Are you a programmer?
Yes, I am a programmer. Now I write most in Python, now it is a very common language. Last year I wrote React Native almost the whole year, before that - a bit in Java.
In this regard, consulting is interesting in that you cannot predict what you will do, there is an element of uncertainty.In the first month of work, I was very unsettled because I could not understand what skillset I needed to develop; I went to full time right after the university, and I needed to develop further in skills. In our team I am the smallest in terms of industry experience, everyone else is at least 6-7 years of work in the industry.
Then I needed to understand what to do next in terms of developing myself as a specialist, but now I have already decided on a strategy and am starting from my skillset in terms of projects, and not vice versa, as it was in the first year.
Why go to McKinsey as a programmer?
Here I must say that I do not consider myself 100% SWE, somewhere around 50/50 I really like working on the product, and at the same time, I really want to be part of the technical team, write code, and I really like it too. When I was at Google, I was not 100% SWE either, and I was also 50/50: I wrote code and did different product-like things. I really liked McKinsey, among other things, because here you can work for a short period of time on different projects, in different industries, with different tech stacks, with different teams. That is, you do not just work on one task in a limited team for an insane amount of time - you constantly change your background and, in principle, begin to better understand what is happening in the industry as a whole. You do not just write in one framework and language, while only knowing what is happening specifically on Google/Facebook, but not how the rest of the world lives.
This was one of my main concerns, why I wanted to go to consulting: I wanted to get this industry diversity. I also really wanted to get a big boost on softskills. It is also very team dependent; I don’t want to speak for all of Facebook/Google, nor for the rest of the companies, but I got the impression that the environment is too safe, that everything is too “google-y”, that everything is too supportive and collaborative, and this does not contribute to the pumping of softskills. I wanted to understand how the most different setups work in terms of teams, how to communicate with a variety of people. When you change teams every 2–3 months, this is the ideal environment for upgrading such skills.
How does the stack change happen? No one was embarrassed by the lack of experience in Python?
In Python, I wrote in the university, a little, and in ShAD. I studied in magistracy in Spain, where I wrote in Python and Arrow, I had a year of applied data science - business analytics and big data, I did not want to go to pure computer science degree. I wanted to get real skills applicable in the industry, and understand how to do it. I chose one of the master's programs at AI Business School, and with Python I was fine.
Another thing is that when we started a project on React native, I would not say that I had an awesome experience in development; Actually, I would say that it was not enough to perform normally, but I had very good support from the team and from the leadership of our London office. They did everything to make me comfortable learning quickly and quickly pick up skills. I had support at the beginning of the project so that I quickly gained the right amount of skills at the right level. It is clear that they do not expect from you that you, never having previously worked in a language, will immediately write in it as if you wrote it all your life. But, it seems to me, at some point, such a degree of expertise appears that it doesn't matter to you what language. Of course, there are caveats: if you always wrote in Python or JS, you won’t be writing production plus right away - although you can figure it out pretty quickly and start performing.
It is clear that the peculiarity of my work is that you need to constantly learn, you never know what will happen next. In this regard, I should have quite diverse technical text and everything that I do in general, and I need to invest a huge amount of time, including free time (it used to be on the weekend), when I just learn something new.
What are your department internship programs at McKinsey?
This is a good question, because it is from this year that we begin SWE internships. We have finally advanced it. This year it will only be for the London office, we still can not sponsor visas, as Google and Facebook do through the TR5 program.They have a customized process, but for now we are looking for more locals. This year I will have intern, and maybe this year we will conduct something like this again, towards the end of the year. I could tell you what internships look like in McKinsey and how they differ from SWE internships in “FANG”, because it will be quite interesting.
When I interviewed, we also did a little algorithmic check of what people can write and people rummage through algorithms, but at the same time, we even looked more at their mindset and how they can talk, run projects, what are they interested in, which way do they want to go, because we do not have 100% SWE.
How are people with PhD treated there, aren't they considered overqualified?
They are great for people with PhD, I think for McKinsey there are a lot of things for them. There are more technical roles - if you look at the analytics, it will be Quantum Black. These guys used to be in a startup, at some point McKinsey bought them - 3-4 years ago - and they are engaged in heavy data analytics. Everything is in classics there: deep learning, neural networks, a lot of things. PhD is just a plus.
We have guys who are more likely not digital hands-on like me, but simply Corporate Strategy; there are guys who work more with the healthcare industry and run strategies for the public sector - for hospitals. Now we have a pandemic period, and several of our colleagues have returned to practice, went to work in the local healthcare system (NHS) - they worked as doctors for several years, received PhD in some medical things.
We have super-diverse companies in this regard, people with different backgrounds find a place here. Because we work in a wide variety of industries on a wide variety of projects, it is often industry experience that decides that you will be useful and able to bring in your value and impact, rather than simply completing a business school and knowing the necessary frameworks. All frameworks can be learned, but industry experience is very difficult to obtain along with some more specific knowledge for industries such as medicine.
What is your attitude to the Russians?
For these two years everything was fine. We have a fairly large community on Telegram, quite a few chat rooms on a variety of topics, we all constantly meet. More technical guys are grouped together, others just talk about everything in the world, but in general there is a pretty welcoming community. There has never been any inadequate reaction to the fact that I am from Russia, neither from colleagues at McKinsey, nor at other companies. It seems to me that the big problem here is not what country you are from, but how you talk and how you position yourself, how much you try to respect a foreign culture and try to integrate into this society.
What was asked at an internship at Google?
It was a certain unique case, not SWE and not sales/marketing, which basically happens. I had a case-oriented interview: that is, they told me right away about the project in which I will participate.
I was asked specific things: since I am involved in process automation, they could ask me, for example, how the whole department of People Ops looks from my point of view; They talked about what departments and teams there are, processes — I didn’t have this information, of course, I told how I saw it. And then they say: in fact, it’s arranged like this, we went on. And then they asked, for example: look, we have process X, it is not very effective - how would you conduct automation, distribute resources, communicate with your colleagues, collect requirement? That is, they initially asked how I was going to arrange my work. These were case things. After that I was asked on many behavioral things, because this is a business interview; It seems to me that it was behavioral issues that had a separate whole interview. It seems to me that it’s time to do some kind of guide on how to answer such questions as how to make your own story. Because here it’s more important not just how much experience you have and what kind of expert you are, but how you position yourself and how well you can tell your story so that people understand how cool you are.
When I had several times such that I was a mentor for current students, and the person told me that he was not smart enough, I said - wait, let's see everything with you now, and we wrote a beautiful cover letter, and people received an offer. Here, probably, the bigger problem is that we do not fully believe in ourselves, and for some reason we underestimate our successes and cannot correctly pack everything.
Tell me about the selection process at McKinsey, how to get an offer?
The selection processes at McKinsey are very different, depending on where you want to go. If we are talking about corporate strategy - standard consulting, then you need to submit a CV there, and after that you do a test. Now in the Moscow office it has been replaced by a digital assessment, in some offices - too; that is, the next step is either a test or a digital assessment. After this, two rounds of interviews take place, three in each. That is, the first round is usually conducted by middle-level colleagues; There is a case part and a behavioral part. The second round is the leadership-level, and there are also three interviews, and also the case and behavioral parts, but more behavioral. Probably the best way to see how McKinsey is selected is in official sources: now there are a lot of workshops from different offices. For example, in the Moscow office they are quite actively conducted, undergo constant trainings, interviews, and so on; that is, if you wish, you can collect this information.
I also had 6 interviews, although this was not in the format of rounds - they were spread out over time, since I have a rather specific area of expertise in engineering. Case interviews were with a technical emphasis - that is, they could ask me some part of the business logic and ask me to write part of the code. I wrote mainly in Python, plus a bit of SQL. Since I was more interviewed on data, I could be asked about some Hadoop/Spark-specific things, and just about Python, and about databases, and so on. Could ask, for example, the following question: we have a client with a certain database that needs to be migrated to another - how would you explain this process, how would you do the transfer, what would you do with training and integrating it into the company? What use-case would you do for other databases, how would you justify it? That is, it’s such a full-case, but don’t “write the code, please.”
How did the interviewers relate to the incomplete course in SHAD, was this not perceived as an inability to complete what was begun to the end?
Normally treated. I said that I received it as a minor degree, and that it was physically difficult for me to finish it. I had a rather eventful life at the university, I also helped to organize conferences - for example, there are conferences “Management of the Future” at the School of Management, and there were also events like TedEx. Then I simultaneously studied several foreign languages - I still speak French, German and Spanish. Not C1, but a fairly normal level. Now I am tightening French and Spanish more so that after a year and a half I work for them. That is, my CV also said that I took other courses, participated in championships and so on.
It was clear that I had not abandoned anything, I simply could not combine it. But there have never been questions about why I did not finish the course - it is still just an additional education, not a university. I believe that the two years that I studied, gave me a lot and were a big push in my development as a programmer.
Why go to consulting and not stay at Google?
I already mentioned: basically it was industry diversity. If in the future I want to go into more product-oriented things, you need to understand what happens outside of Google. Both technical development and softskills were very important, and at the start of my career I would say that these are good starting points, and always, if I want, they will probably take me back - I'm not sure, but something tells me that yes, because I had good feedback and.
How to enter a foreign master's program?
Also very much depends on where you want. I can’t speak for all magistracy and countries, of course. There are many open resources and communities that help with this.That is, overall you choose the magistracy: is there a system of grants or not; apply for a grant, if any (or a scholarship), then pass all the necessary exams. Usually this is basic knowledge of English, and then, depending on the magistracy, either GRE or GMAT. GRE is handed over for a foreign master's program plus a foreign PhD, and GMAT - more for business schools. That is, if you ever want to go to the MBA, then the GMAT is the exam that you will prepare for a long time (well, or not for long - depending on how you write the first test one).
In my case, I realized that I wanted to take another extra year to study, I did not want to go immediately to fulltime after undergraduate studies. I could stay in a magistracy in St. Petersburg, but it was less preferable - I still wanted to get a new experience, I wanted something more technical, but not pure computer science, and at the same time abroad. I wanted to get a multi-cultural experience, to learn not only with Russian students and teachers.
We had two streams in the magistracy, each with approximately 50 people, and mine had 55 people and 40 nationalities. That is, guys from all the top countries, and you communicate with them, you understand how they react, how to build a collaborative mindset in the normal sense. It was a very good practice. You also pass an additional IELTS/TOEFL for knowledge of the English language if you have not studied and worked in countries where native speakers live (UK, Canada, USA, Australia, Ireland). That is, I passed this exam, then GMAT, then I submitted all the documents to the magistracy and waited for a decision. After that I applied for a scholarship. Depending on the university, absolutely everything is sometimes covered, or part is covered. In my case, only 20% of the training was covered, and after that I found another additional women-in-tech grant, applied for it in this magistracy and received another 20%. As a result, my scholarship covered 40% of the training, and all other expenses were on me. Also, depending on the university, the hostel may or may not be provided. I did not have this, and I rented a house in Spain.
My graduate school was 10 months old. There are various other options: full-time master's degree, when you study on campus, part-time master's degree, when 3-4 months study takes place online, and then 2-3 weeks in person in any country. There are those when almost every six months - in another country, and only a year and a half; that is, three large modules in person in which you study for several weeks, for example, in Spain or Dubai.
It all depends on where you want, what needs you have, how much you want to invest in all of this - including financially. At first, I thought if I wanted to pay for a magistracy or not, but then I decided that if I went simply to full-time at Google, for example, after a bachelor's degree, then for two years of the magistracy plus then full-time, my education would have fallen off. I realized that this is a good investment of money and time and made a decision. It seems to me that this is a good experience, even if you do not want to go abroad to graduate: in many universities there is the possibility of an exchange semester at partner universities.
Now the main Russian universities are trying to make such options, and it is interesting to at least try and serve. As I said, the main thing why I have achieved quite a few things in my life is that I was not afraid to try to serve. The worst thing that could happen is just reject. Try, try, do the work on mistakes, understand why you weren’t taken, ask for feedback.
Diversity in tech, the most painful topic - especially now, in the age of tolerance, when you’re afraid to say anything. How to create a community?
At the moment, we are already 3 years with two more girls of the community. Now this community is in VK, sometimes we have ideas to create a full-fledged community offline, but so far, due to the fact that we work full time in different countries, it remains online. I would like at some point to make some kind of safe place for people who can draw inspiration from some source, understand what opportunities exist and that you have role models that you can focus on. So that when something doesn’t work out, you could say: they did it, so I can do it too, I can handle it.Perhaps because of this, we created a community several years ago. While everything is working out, we are moving slowly, many plans for July-August.
It seems to me that quarantine has influenced me well, I was able to rethink a lot during self-isolation - what I want from life, from the blogs that I conduct, from the projects that I help to conduct. That is, now we plan to do something like a mentoring program, so that there are people who help you and lead you by the hand or at least support. But for now, this is just an online project. If you have ideas, or want to become part or contribute, then any time welcome. You can write me in a personal on any of the social networks where you can find me, and we can discuss everything. I try to respond within a few days (though, in Telegram, the response rate will be slower than in Facebook or VK); It's easy to find me, Vlad Rau is a rather unique combination.
In fact, it seems to me that now - looking back at the time when I was studying at the bachelor's program and was just starting, about 7 years ago - there were much more opportunities, much more support, much more open-minded people who can talk about your way, teach something, share useful links. I would say that now is exactly the time when these opportunities should be used to the maximum. Do not be afraid to ask, do not be afraid to write to people. A lot of people can answer: yes, of course, I’ll talk to you with pleasure, I’ll gladly make a refer, I’ll gladly tell you something else or introduce my acquaintance who is doing just that.
In July, we want to make a series of meetings and speakers. Now we are in the scheduling everything format, everyone has different time zones and everything needs to be synchronized, but announcements will be coming soon. I still have a Telegram channel, sometimes something useful happens there; True, now I often write some of my day-to-day things.
Tell me about salary negotiation
Very interesting question. I honestly don’t know how to answer it. In principle, I always knew where I was going - for example, when I interviewed for the first internship, I had no other offers. More precisely, they were, but they were Russian companies. There was no competing offer, for example, from Facebook - I could not say: “oh, you know, all FANG wants me, do you want me to raise the trainee's salary?” And when I interviewed for a full time at McKinsey, at the same time I interviewed another company, where they were ready to take me, but I opted for McKinsey.
We do not have a pay gap, the standard salary for the position, the difference is only in the bonus, depending on performance. McKinsey is a pretty top-notch company and many people want to go there. I realized that if I start trying to do salary negotiation, they will tell me - we have a standard process, these are the numbers, are you in or not?
In addition, initially I was interviewed at a position higher, and in the job description mentioned 8 years of experience - despite the fact that I am new grad. They were ready to transfer me to London, bypassing the Moscow office, to study my visa - this is a super-non-standard case for McKinsey, usually they do not transfer people to Europe without industry experience. They made a downgrade position, made a headcount for me and transferred to London - after this you somehow do not feel yourself in a position for salary negotiation. I know people who collected fans from offers - maybe then they can make a session with them, and they will tell their tips and tricks.
And how long is your contract?
I now have a work visa for 3 years, then it will be extended. I am already permanent, not a contractor - I got a normal fulltime position.
I thought that I was in no position to do salary negotiation, but there are guys who do it very well. They tell such a cool story - I hear. Perhaps this is such a separate skill, and you need to work on it - I can not advise anything, except that I definitely do not need to lie about the fact that you have a mountain of offers. Recruiters have the property of being friends with each other and switching between companies, and you can earn a ban.
If you have other offers - you can say about it, if not - then no. Being transparent as much as possible, especially if you have competitive offers, follows.If you calmly and transparently tell about the situation and say what your criteria are and why you would prefer one company to another, interesting proposals may appear that were not originally voiced, but are just what you wanted.
How often do you travel?
Very dependent on the project. Work-life balance is also highly dependent on the project. In the London office we have very good mental health. Long hours - this does not mean that you work efficiently: you can work from 9 to 19, and it will be much more productive than from 9 to 23, because then you can do something else, and enjoy your life.
In this regard, I like the European mentality in that work is not the most important thing in life. The same goes for traveling - when you select a project, you initially understand how travel it will be, and what kind of location it is. When I came here, I thought that when you have a family, when you have children - it’s not at all sustainable, and at some point I’ll have to choose, but now I communicate with people older than me, and they say that everything is discussed. You are welcomed if you have children and family. Especially now, when everyone understood that, in fact, you can work from home. If you feel like it, then you can work remotely; there are always some solutions to problems. I really like that McKinsey is listening to employees - they are interested in having a comfortable setup for work. But if you really want traveling - you can find a project during which you will constantly do this.
What is the gradation in the company?
We have digital analyst, senior digital analyst, specialist, expert, associated partner, partner, senior partner; in the corporate track it will be a business analyst and so on. In public in VK it signs. Better to look in official sources - it all depends on the position.
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