Inside Perspectives From Data Science at McKinsey

Brandeis International Business School’s MSBA career coach, Sonia Liang, recently had the opportunity to catch up with recent graduate Ziyu Tang ‘21. Ziyu started working as a data scientist at McKinsey earlier this year. She was awarded the Excellence and Business Analytics award at her International Business School graduation ceremony, and has been a great ambassador of the MSBA program and for Brandeis International Business School in general. She held an internship at BJ’s Club during her time at Brandeis and was the former TA of the International Business School course called Launching Your Global Career.

Ziyu is currently very busy wrapping up her first project at McKinsey. She acknowledged that McKinsey, and consulting in general, is very busy and fast-paced, especially as compared to working as a data scientist in other industries. For example, in her internship as a data analyst at BJ’s Club, Ziyu noticed that the working style is very different in the retail industry as compared to the consulting industry. She noted that this is because in retail “your goal is to serve yourself,” while in consulting “you may feel pressure because the timeline is pretty strict and almost every day I need to deliver the result to different teams, or to the client or to the consultant, because we are like a supply chain.”

Despite the intensity of working as a data scientist in the consulting industry, Ziyu believes that her experiences at Brandeis prepared her very well for her new role. While Ziyu did not personally complete a field project, she heard amazing things about the field project program from her friends and believes this experience is very useful for preparing for the consulting industry. Specifically, Ziyu highlighted the projects she completed for her Business Dynamics and Marketing Analytics courses as similar to the workflow at a consulting firm, where the “flow of a completed project is about talking to your client about how to separate a problem into small buckets” then finding a solution for each bucket. 

Ziyu was able to develop her technical skills in many of her courses at Brandeis International Business School as well. Specifically, one course in which she was able to combine working on career-related projects with coding was Big Data II. In this course, Ziyu was able to work in a group to create a professional-level report, which was invaluable to her career preparation. 

In general, Ziyu views school projects as more than just homework, and thinks it is important to go above and beyond to tell the whole story of a business situation in your assignments. Rather than simply creating a model to solve the problem, Ziyu recommends that students take the time to truly understand the business situation to tell the whole story. This helped her to prepare for her current role in the consulting world.

As is expected for a data scientist in the consulting industry, Ziyu had a systematic approach to breaking into the field. Ziyu recommends that in your first half year at Brandeis, you fully commit to your studies. Especially for students without a strong background in quantitative analysis, building “a solid foundation for coding and data analysis is the most important thing.” By the end of your first semester, Ziyu believes it is time to behave and perform “like a professional candidate instead of just a student.” This relates to your coursework as well as how you conduct yourself in interviews and networking events. 

In terms of interviews, Ziyu offered some great advice to current Brandeis students. If you continuously fail to move past a certain stage in the job application process, Ziyu recommends that you do a mock interview with “Sonia or other students to find if there are some problems in the way you’re talking about yourself.” Learning how to be relaxed and confident in the interview process is difficult, but Ziyu thinks this may make all the difference as long as you have the sufficient expertise and knowledge for the role.

To watch the complete recorded conversation, click here

Robert Banks ’21 is a former CSE Career Captain. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business with a Specialization in Accounting and Finance degree from Brandeis University. 

By Robert Banks
Robert Banks Former Career Captain Robert Banks