After I complete my four finals during the week of December 6th, I would have officially completed my first quarter of business school. I still cannot believe that it has already been almost a year since I received that long-awaited phone call telling me that I was accepted to one of the best MBA programs in the world. Before coming here, I had a lot of expectation and hopes, and let me tell you, Kellogg has exceeded many of them. This quarter has been fantastic. I feel very accomplished but knew that there will be more adventures awaiting me in the near future. I am going to recap my experiences this quarter in 4 buckets.
Academics: I graduated from Berkeley in 2006, so it has been a while since I was in a school environment. The adjustment from work to school was a little difficult at first, but the pre-term leadership class, a.k.a. MORS-430 Leadership in Organizations definitely helped me to ease back into the academic mindset. I think that class is my favorite out of all the classes that I took this quarter. I learned about group dynamics, managing expectations, motivations and networking, which can be applied to many areas in and out of school. The class prepared for all the groups that I am involved with both in my classes and in extracurricular activities. We have group projects or group homework in all of our core classes. These groups were randomly assigned by the professors at the beginning of the quarter and a great way to meet people not in my section or KWEST trip. I was able to learn so much from my peers during these group meetings and discussions because everyone has such diverse backgrounds and can contribute further in my understanding of the class materials. The core classes this quarter also helped me to establish a solid business foundation and served as stepping-stones for electives that will explore different subjects in more depth.
Career: Since internship recruiting does not officially start until late January for 1st years, the fall quarter was entirely dedicated to exploration, preparation and networking. The Career Management Center (CMC) does a great job presenting the variety of industries that recruit MBA students. Many of my peers are career switchers, so it was extremely helpful to learn about the different industries and job functions and skill sets associated with each of them. There were many useful panels and lunch & learns that I attended to explore my options for summer internships. The CMC also helped me to put my resume into the Kellogg format and provided a lot of feedback on how to market myself more effectively in that one page of paper. Networking with company representatives was also something that I spent a lot of time doing. The Kellogg brand attracts many top companies from all industries who come to campus year after year to present their firms to the students. This is a great opportunity to meet with current employees and recruiters and learn about the company culture as well as positions available for summer internships. I feel that I have made many great connections this quarter with companies that I am interested to work for, and I know what to expect going into internship recruiting next quarter.
Extracurricular Activities: One of the key factors that attracted me to Kellogg is the numerous opportunities and activities to be involved or take on a leadership role in. Many 1st years become very overcommitted in this first quarter because there are an overwhelming numbers of things happening every day. As I mentioned in a previous entry, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) plays a very big part in all of this. Time management is key and also prioritizing what interests you the most when multiple things are going on at the same time. The two big things that I did this quarter were the Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI) and being involved in Admissions. NBI’s purpose is to match teams of Kellogg students with Chicago non-profits who are looking for assistance in dealing with a specific business problem. NBI allows students an opportunity to apply their industry expertise and business experience in a way that positively impacts the community. My team, a group of 5 first years including myself, worked on a marketing project for a local non-profit that makes note cards from recycled paper and uses the profits generated to provide jobs for transitional women. Our project involved looking at new viable distribution channels for the organization to increase sales revenue in order to create more job opportunities for women who are facing barriers in employment due to lack of job experience or skills. We defined the scope of the project at the beginning of the quarter with our non-profit partner. Throughout the quarter, we worked on researching the problem, creating detailed analysis and tangible solutions. We presented our findings during the final presentation to our client just last week. Our client was extremely pleased with our findings, and hopefully will implement some of our recommendations. Through this project, I was able to gain very practical consulting experience. Being involved in Admissions was also extremely rewarding for me. Aside from writing this blog, I served as a lunch host and admission tour guide to many of the prospective students that visit Kellogg each day. I enjoyed sharing my experiences here so far, and I hope that people were able to learn more about Kellogg.
Social: At Kellogg, we work hard and play hard. Social started with KWEST. Going on a trip with a bunch of strangers at first for a week definitely developed many long-lasting friendships for me. I love all my KWEST Mystery teammates. 1, 2, 3 Mystery all the way! Costume parties are also huge here. I think there was at least one social event a week. Granted I couldn’t go to all of them, since I did have to study sometime, but the ones that I did attend were all amazing. My favorite was definitely the Hoot for the Homeless fundraiser sponsored by the MMM program. It was the Tuesday before Halloween. Everyone dressed up in their best Halloween costumes and got together to raise funds for those who were recently displaced due to the floods in Pakistan. This was also the first performance of the year by the two Kellogg bands, Captain of Industry and Rocket Pockets. I was very impressed how talented my peers are. I am also very looking forward to the Kellogg Ski Trip, happening in just a couple of days. Around 800 Kellogg students will be taking over Aspen Snowmass for a whole week. The Ski Trip is another one of those things that you shouldn’t miss. It is planned by the students of course, with slope-side condos, skiing/snowboarding, other activities such as wine tasting, sushi making, and snowshoeing for those who don’t ski/snowboard, and themed parties. My condo mates are going group costume shopping together after we get done with finals. We will be coordinating our outfits for the ‘80s party, the Wild Wild West party and the Shipwreck party. It is definitely a good way to celebrate the end of the first quarter.
I know Round 1 Decisions will be out soon, so good luck to those who applied. I look forward to meeting many of you during Day At Kellogg (the admitted students weekend) in February as well as those of you still in the application process during a lunch or admissions tour when you visit Evanston.