A Sy Syms Student Goes for the Gold: A Position at McKinsey & Company

In August 2019, at the start of her sophomore year, Rachel Doretsky ’22SB promised herself that by the time she graduated, she would snag a great job that allowed her to make aliyah.

syms doretsky mckinsey
Rachel Doretsky

This September, the Long Island native will keep that promise when she joins McKinsey & Company in Tel Aviv as a business analyst, becoming one of the first YU undergraduates to secure a position at one of “the most selective employers in the world, a company known for its notoriously competitive hiring process,” according to The Economist.

How did this Sy Syms alumna get her foot in the door? Doretsky chalks it up to hard work, tenacity and, as she noted, “the realization that there are no short cuts. If you want something, you need to be willing to work for it and do whatever it takes to get there.” Helping her build the confidence and savvy to do just that was an array of resources she called upon to navigate the road to McKinsey’s Tel Aviv office: mentoring relationships with professors and alumni, interning at the YU Consulting Force, membership in YU’s Consulting Society (a new alumni-led group helping YU students break into the field) and leadership roles in the YU chapter of the student-run TAMID club.

When she started at the Sy Syms School of Business, she was passionate about accounting, “but after two semesters, I realized it wasn’t the career for me.” She sought advice from Dr. Sharon Poctzer, Chair of the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department at Sy Syms, who pointed out plenty of opportunities in business other than accounting. Coincidentally, as Doretsky was considering her options for a new major, the YU Consulting Force, an internship program that involves YU students in consulting projects for non-profits, was accepting applications for its inaugural cohort of interns. (Dr. Noam Wasserman, dean of Sy Syms, developed the Consulting Force in April 2020 when Covid forced the cancellation of most internships.)

Doretsky applied, got in, and discovered what life as a consultant might be like. That moved her to increase her participation in TAMID, a student club that helps undergrads develop competencies like consulting skills by connecting them remotely with Israeli companies. One of her consulting projects at TAMID was with Zebra Medical Vision, a medical software company specializing in AI and recently acquired by Nanox.AI.

Her game plan was shaping up well. She had changed majors to finance and strategy/entrepreneurship and set her sights on McKinsey as a prospective employer, a choice motivated by her involvement with YU’s Consulting Society. Armed with an Excel spreadsheet and tapping into her YU network, Rachel methodically reached out over the course of a year via LinkedIn to McKinsey’s Israel recruiter to learn about the leadership skills and experience the firm sought in a candidate, all while building a rolodex of company contacts. “I spoke with business analysts, consultants, engagement managers, associate partners and even a partner—as many McKinsey people as possible. As a result, I met over one-third of the firm before being interviewed.”

With the groundwork laid, she applied to McKinsey in December 2021. What followed were a demanding series of one-on-one case interviews with consultants, engagement managers and senior partners designed to assess her analytical abilities to solve hypothetical business problems.

After four rounds of successful interviews, which took months of preparation, Doretsky received an offer in February 2022 to join McKinsey Tel Aviv as a business analyst. Soon after, another Sy Syms graduating senior received an offer from a McKinsey office in the U.S., making this a breakthrough year for YU undergraduates in this emerging industry.

Rachel Doretsky’s advice for success is simple and straightforward. “Be ready to pivot. Be patient but passionate, and when you decide what you want, pursue it relentlessly, even if it means going outside your comfort zone. Once I had hands-on experience in consulting and realized I loved it, I did whatever it took to reach my goal.”