When applying to business school, there are so many considerations to evaluate: academics, location, size, career services, etc. One of the most important factors in everything you have to weigh is the alumni network. Long after you’ve taken your last final, the network you both cultivated and inherited will be an enduring legacy of your MBA experience that will last you throughout your career.
For that reason and more, the strength of a school’s alumni network was a major factor in deciding where to get my MBA. Kellogg’s reputation as a highly collaborative school is often cited when referring to one’s current classmates, but I found that it extended to the alumni even long before I was their peer. While researching Kellogg during the application process, I made a point to reach out to alums as well as current students. I looked for those who had similar non-traditional backgrounds as I did, as well as those who were now working in industries that I hoped to enter post-MBA. And the response was incredible! Even though I wasn’t yet a student – I hadn’t even been accepted yet – most everyone I contacted responded right away, happy to talk to me about their experience and provide advice when I needed it. Their insight, enthusiasm, and even nostalgia for their Kellogg experience was palpable and contagious. I remember thinking that if they were willing to be so helpful and forthcoming even before I stepped foot on campus, who knew what kind of a resource they would be after I arrived.
My high expectations didn’t disappoint. Now, as a first-year student in the midst of recruiting season, the alumni network has proven invaluable. When I was recently out west to visit some companies, I reached out to one alum, who was working at a company I was interested in. He immediately agreed to meet me for coffee while I was in town and gave me great insight not only into the company, but also into my career goals and where else I should be focusing my efforts. Even more, he offered to connect me with some of his fellow Kellogg classmates who he thought would be relevant for me to speak with. Within days, I had received three introductory emails and responses from those contacts, and by the end of the week, I ended up spending up to an hour on the phone with each of them. One of these new contacts, who worked at a company I had applied to for an internship, even offered to help me prepare for my interview, should I receive one. Now that is going above and beyond!
The enthusiasm of the network to “pay it forward” extends beyond just cold introductions. Most every company event I’ve been to has featured a Kellogg alum. And today I participated in a mock internship interview hosted by alumni working in marketing, my preferred field. The fact that they take the time out of their busy days to help us practice our interviewing skills and be the best we can be is great evidence of their commitment to the school long after they’ve left the building. It’s an amazing part of my MBA experience, and “passing it on” is a tradition I’m committed to upholding once I’ve graduated, too.
Jordana Cohen (@jor_cohen) is a first year student in the 2-year program at Kellogg, focusing on Marketing Management and Media Management. She is a Kellogg Tour Guide and also involved in the Media & Entertainment Club, Marketing Club, WBA and many other clubs. She is also a tireless advocate of using “The Simpsons” quotes in everyday life.