Archive for October, 2010

Recruiting for the Consulting Industry

For the past week, MBAs at Kellogg have attended dozens of recruiting events put on by consulting firms. Rumor has it that the firms are doing well again and are looking to hire in record numbers for the summer of 2011. As such, Kellogg MBAs want to be sure to put their best foot forward for their interviews that will take place in January and February.

In recent blog posts, I wrote articles about the campus visits of BCG and McKinsey when they came to campus over the last two weeks. Since then Deloitte consulting has also visited campus as has Monitor and the Parthenon Group. Internal consulting group American Express also came to campus a couple of weeks ago and next week the internal consulting group for Fidelity is coming. And as the semester continues, more and more people seem to be  attending these events, and I suspect a lot more will be submitting applications in December.

About one year ago, most people in my class of 2012 had just finalized their applications to business school. Some of them had plans to enter the consulting industry, the day after submitting their applications, but for many of them, their goal in coming to business school was not necessarily to enter the industry. But over the past months, a shift has taken place, and more and more people have had a change of opinion, evident by the increasing number of people that continue to attend these networking events. Most recently, over 150 people attended a BCG reception and Bain’s reception in two weeks is anticipated to have more than that.

Inspired by the large number of smart alumni in the industry that are coming to campus talking about their jobs and future exit opportunities, students have increasingly become more interested in the field as time passes. Similarly, as the firms continue to come to campus not only for information sessions but also to host receptions, provide free open bars, and hang out and talk to students in the atrium, students continually become more attracted to the idea of working for one of the firms. At Kellogg, many people understand this phenomenon as the “atrium effect.”

And why does the “Atrium effect” happen every single year, you ask? Good question but upon reflection the answer is pretty simple. One reason is the fact that you see many of your classmates doing the same thing. And when you see 50 intelligent people with impressive backgrounds trying so hard to enter one industry, it’s nearly impossible not to take a second look and consider it yourself. A second reason is because you also see another one or two dozen smart and happy  alumni who you admire that are at these consulting firms.  Often times, you see people in high level positions you want to be in, and they’ve often spent time at some of these consulting firms prior to that and speak highly of those experiences.

Now, given what I’ve said above, fast forward about six weeks into the first quarter. And imagine our session now, where the classroom was jam-packed corner to corner with eager first year students ready to start prepping for a consulting job next summer. And as time goes on, everyone is starting to realize that there’s a lot of competition, so it’s going to take a lot of prepping to land one of these coveted consulting jobs. And that’s in addition to school work, outside activities, and social activities that everyone is involved in.

The question that many people will have over the next few months is, is all the work required to get a consulting job worth it? And more broadly, maybe the better question is “are MBAs with strategy consulting experience better off as business leaders?”

In my view, that’s probably not quite the right question to ask. The right question might be something more like, “will consulting make me specifically a better business leader in the long run, given my specific career goals and current skill sets? And if so, which firm will offer the best training to do that, and will I be happy there?” And even if the answer to the latter question is no, then is the time I spent at the consulting firm still worth it for me personally?

In my experience, most people don’t know their answers to these questions just yet, and they tend to go through the recruiting process first and then ask themselves this question second.

Stay tuned to eventually hear how these decisions play out over the next few months. I’ll be sure to post regular updates and answer applicant and career questions along the way.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Consulting 3 Comments

Google Comes to Class

Leaving your job and coming to business school is both an exciting and scary step for MBA students. For most it means going through the recruiting process again and for a subset of those it means doing some serious soul searching first. But no matter which category you fit into, some companies manage to grab everyone’s attention when they come to campus. These companies not only have strong brand names but they also have passionate employees that work on some of the world’s most cutting edge problems.  Well, last week, I had the privilege of seeing one of those companies firsthand, as Google came to speak in my Leading and Organizing Media Companies course.

One of the best things about coming to a top business school like Kellogg, is that there’s no dearth of great companies and speakers on campus. On any given day, there’s ten different companies on campus and just as many executive level speakers. This is good for MBA students who may not know where they want to work when they graduate and it’s even better for the students interested in learning more about the business world more broadly.

After spending a few months here on campus, it’s clear that investment banks and consulting firms are still popular choices.  But at Kellogg, so are other function and industries, like general management, marketing, CPG, internal strategy, and the technology industry.

Of the those listed above, the technology industry tends to be a favorite here at Kellogg, so my class was quite fortunate and happy to have  three folks from Google pay a visit.

During class we talked about the overall state of the company. We discussed issues such as the current job market, how to get a job at Google, and Google’s evolving business model. We also dove into the company’s People and Human Resources Strategies as well as talked a little about Google’s history and plans for the future. And finally, our professor budgeted in about thirty minutes for questions.

One interesting fact I learned from the event is that Google receives about 7,000 applications per day. As you might imagine, I was quite shocked at the number, so my natural reaction was to ask a few questions in return – how many of those are viable candidates, how do those viable candidates get filtered, and do some people ever slip through the holes?

I also asked questions about Google’s culture and whether that culture is evolving over time as many people have the perception that Google is becoming a big company.  Google had a lot of great answers last week and in one response they said that they still consider their culture to be a unique competitive advantage, and that they consider themselves to still be more like a start up, so are still looking for more entrepreneurial applicants.

On the other hand, they also admitted that the company is reaching a pivotal moment in history. It currently has more employees than it’s ever had before and it’s reaching a new segment of its company life cycle, so has to start managing its growth differently. One way Google has done that is by keeping its hand in a lot of interesting areas, for example in helping create the self driving cars (click here to see article on cars)

But perhaps more interesting (and more relevant) than the long list of vastly interesting things Google is involved in is the fact that the company maintains a relentless focus on the Google mission. The representatives not only referred back to the mission on multiple occasions but they also stressed that it’s important to keep that at the very core of what they do.

And that’s pretty interesting, right. After all, most of us think more of nonprofits when we think of mission statements because those are what inspires founders to create the organization and they’re what drive board members and volunteers to stay involved.

But for Google, having a mission statement and a set of associated values is critical.  And as a result, today Google remains like a highly driven entrepreneurial community of people despite it’s increasing size. And having a community with a shared purpose, and a habit of collaborating and sharing information will not only help Google reach new heights for years to come, but it may also help them to change the world.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 Business School, Careers No Comments

Boston Consulting Group Firm Reception

Last night, I attended a firm reception with the Boston Consulting Group. I attended a similar event with Mckinsey & Company last week (click here to read), and tonight, Monitor is having its own version of the event. Other than the fact that these consulting firms are all coming to campus during midterm week, the events are a lot of fun. Not only is it a good way to help differentiate all the firms, it’s also a way to get to know a lot of interesting people, both at the firms and in the Kellogg class of 2012.

With a group of 20 or more consultants from 7 to 10 offices, BCG filled up the Orrington Hotel yesterday to talk with students intersested in working at the firm. Our discussion focused on what to think about as you go through the recruiting process – what criteria are important for getting hired, how to think about choosing offices, how to approach cases, and the importance of getting to know people at the firms.

Among others, the Chairman of BCG, Carl Stern, was in attendance and he kicked off the event by making a few remarks. In large part that’s because he works from the Chicago office. But it also because he wanted to personally address the Kellogg students, giving us his take on the firm and on the consulting recruiting process in general. Chief among those things is that consulting field, and BCG specifically, are looking to hire its biggest class ever next year.

As he made the comment, I looked across the room, left to right, and saw a ripple of smiles, as the Chairman emphasized–as I recently have in a number of my posts–that the economy is doing well and that the firm is looking to not only hire great people but hire more of them than ever before. He said that’s because the job market is doing well for skilled people, and that BCG is doing exceptionally well. He followed that by gestfully making a comment that we’d all have a job at BCG if we just applied.

I’ve have heard similar messages at other company presentations I’ve been to recently, including Mckinsey’s last week, which has come as great news to Kellogg students. And that’s especially true now, given recruiting has been down in recent years, not specifically at Kellogg but across the nation and not only in business school but also at law school and in other programs. In fact, last year (for summer 2010) represented the worst legal recruiting year ever.

Granted, no one is under the impression that they are guaranteed a job in the consulting field. After all, a consulting job has long been considered one of the hardest things to get coming out of business school. And to be successful in the consulting interview process, you’d better be able to ace the case study! And that’s in addition to doing well on all the other things too – going to information sessions, meeting consultants, understanding fit and firm culture, doing well academically, and translating all of that into a great interview on a single day in January.

Right now there is an appealing growth and excitement in the consulting market for MBAs. The question is, who is going to ride the wave in the summer of 2011. And who is going to ride the wave with BCG?

Though perhaps the more applicable question for my class right now is  how do you stand out so you can be sure to ride the wave? With exactly 150 people registered for the event yesterday, there unfortunately won’t be room for everyone, even all the highly accomplished, smart and motivated students at Kellogg.

Stay tuned to see how things play out!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Consulting No Comments

Midterm Week at Kellogg

Midterm week for the first quarter at Kellogg is finally under way. While most people here at Kellogg want to perform well, not everyone is immersed in their books. But this doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, business school is not only about doing well in school its also about balancing that with a myriad of other things, professional, cultural, and social.

For the most part, campus was a lot emptier this weekend that it would be during the week. A lot of people are doing their studying at home, and others aren’t studying as much as the rest of us. That’s because the level of student preparation for midterms will probably vary pretty significantly. Some students may be sponsored (or JD-MBAs who recruited in law and have jobs at law firms) so grades are less important relative to their classmates. It’s also because some students have academic backgrounds in business already and so those students may not need to put in as much time. That’s especially true for subjects like stats, accounting, and finance. And finally, some people here are just really smart, so some of them are able to do their work in just a couple of hours.

At the same time, just because midterms are here, doesn’t mean everything else comes to an end. Last week was one of the busiest weeks we’ve had here on campus so far  in terms of extracurricular activities, and next week it doesn’t stop either. On Monday, BCG is here for a campus presentation. On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs and Monitor Group are coming to campus.  And most of us have homework assignments due in a couple of classes too. And that’s in addition to the meetings some people have for clubs that they might be involved in.

Compared to the law school, more of my peers seem a lot more calm and collected here than they did last year at law school. I think the same is true for JD-MBAs, in large part because the culture of business school is so much different than that of law school. As for me, things still feel pretty hectic, but that’s in part because I’ve got a lot of things happening on multiple fronts, and because I like staying busy. Personally, I’ve been spending a lot of time at Jacobs, unlike many of my classmates, since I tend to work better there than I do at home, and because I like running into people on weekends, while I’m doing work.

It’s been a pretty interesting past few weeks, but we’re still only midway through the first quarter. I suspect things will seem a lot busier next quarter when we’re balancing all of this with recruiting.

But while the schedule of Kellogg, and of the JD-MBA program, may sound brutal, my opinion is that we’re are pretty fortunate to be at Kellogg given the opportunities it will afford, no matter how grades end up playing out. So I encourage everyone to stay optimistic and enjoy the process. I also plan to keep writing posts over the next few weeks, no matter how busy it becomes. So I hope you’ll keep reading.

Good luck everyone taking exams!

Sunday, October 24th, 2010 Business School, Law School No Comments

Applicant Question: Two Tips for MBA Admissions Essays

Looking at your background, it’s clear that you’re a competitive candidate for admissions into a top business school.  You have relevant work experience and interesting experiences as a leader.  You also have proof that you’re highly-motivated and a hard worker.  All good traits. That said, what else can you do to stand out from the other five thousand applicants?

One of the best ways to stand out in the MBA admissions admissions cycle is writing a first-class set of essays. Essays not only give you the chance to elaborate on the things you couldn’t fit into other parts of the application, they also give you the chance to really tell your story – who you are, what obstacles you’ve overcome, the details of your professional experiences, and the things that make you stand out as an eventual leader in the business world.

What’s ironic though, is that in general, most people’s essays could still use some polish. After all, we’ve all been out of school for years and don’t spend nearly as much time writing and editing as we used to. Similarly, writing multiple essays for multiple schools can be difficult, not only because most people are busy and can’t devote as much time to write but also because the process is difficult – telling a full story to the committee, determining which stories fit best for which schools, writing in a style that’s both eloquent but also concise, and finally using your essays to say as much as possible while still making the essay readable and enjoyable. A herculean task by all measures.

Because I’ve been getting a lot of requests to help with essays recently, I thought I’d write a few “guiding” rules I like to think about as I write and review essays myself. I’ll share two of those tips with you here today, because I’ve recently edited a couple of essays where they became relevant.

1. Answer the question: One easy, but often overlooked rule of thumb for writing essays at any school is to answer the question. For some schools the essays are different than others so you have to understand not only what things you want to express to them but also how to actually answer the question. MIT’s questions, for example, are stylistically different than those of other b-schools, as they ask “…explain what you said, thought, felt and did.”  When I was apply to MBA programs, an alum of the school once told me that “MIT is thirsty for the details of the story, not your impressions of the story in retrospect …  Be explicit about what actually happened.” So always go back and re-read the question. Be sure of what it’s asking. And make sure that you not only answer the question but also that everything in your essay supports you answering the question. Because the worst thing you can do is answer an essay with your own agenda in mind. Admissions folks can see this a mile away, and I suspect that it’s a sure fire way not to gain acceptance into a good number of schools.

2. Headline: When possible try to set the tone of your essays by engaging your audience. Admissions committees have read thousands of personal statements and essays, so it’s important to set the tone for the statement and get the reader’s attention right away. Like any good book or New York Times article, a good opening line, whether an anecdote or a personal story, can be helpful. Just as long as it grabs the committee’s attention, while also reinforcing the topic. But also remember, just because you start the essay off in a casual or funny tone, doesn’t mean you should write the whole thing that way. Use your discretion but also remember that you’re writing an MBA essay so formality should also be a consideration.

This year shaping up to be just as competitive as the last few years, so you definitely want to do your best to land a spot at a great school.  So keep these things in mind as you’re writing your essays.

Also, be sure check back here, at jeremycwilson.com, for more essay and interview tips over the next few weeks.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Careers 2 Comments

Company Presentations At Kellogg

Early on at Kellogg, everyone quickly learns that success in the recruiting process requires more than getting good grades and doing well in interviews; it requires building networks of relationships and finding a good fit with your skill set.  One example of doing that is through coffee chats and lunch and learns, which companies tend to have pretty regularly.  Another example is going to the company presentations, which companies put on the entire fall quarter.

So far, students have been pretty good at attending many of these events. After all getting a good job upon graduation is the primary reason people decide to attend business school. But going to all these events, while also studying for class and taking part in Kellogg activities is also tough. And sometimes, it’s even harder for the students who may not have a sense of what industry they want to work in after graduation.

On one hand, the rewards from taking part in the activities can be many-fold: learning about various industries that you may not know much about, having access to top leaders in different industries many of which are Kellogg alum, and taking in part in fun and interesting events alongside Kellogg classmates who are exploring just like you are.

One the other hand, the more of these events you go to the harder it can be to squeeze everything into a day. Similarly, for some people, the more events they go to the harder it is to ultimately make a decision because they become exposed to too many opportunities.

But perhaps more important than those things (both of which can be spun as positive, i.e. busy days and lots of exposure to business) is that at some point, time becomes more limited as the quarter goes on, and at some point, people will have already begun prepping for the recruiting process in certain industries. So for some people, there is competitive pressure to move quickly, so you can be best prepared to do case prep, network with the right people, and target the job that you want.

That said, many of the first year students are still doing some floating between industries. Some are going to both consulting and marketing. Some are doing consulting and investment banking. Some are doing marketing and strategy. And another group of students is still floating between a wide array of other industries. But you can definitely see some shifts taking place, and we’re starting to see some regulars at many of the presentation. Personally, I’ve got a pretty good sense of the things I’m interested in, but I’m still keeping a broader net, not only because of my short-term recruiting interests but also because of my long term interests.

I’ve recently attended events put on by Education Pioneers and The Broad Residency, two organizations that I’m very interested in.  I’ve also gone to events by BCGBain and Mckinsey,  and attended an event put on American Express (SPG).  In addition to that, my Media Management class has also been interesting.  In the last two weeks we’ve met with the Statesman (Texas Newspaper) and the Tribune, and today, we have a guest speaker meeting with us from Google.

At Kellogg, we’re all very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with all these interesting companies. Stay tuned to hear about some of these sessions in more detail.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 Business School, Careers No Comments

Kellogg’s Minority Networking Reception

Shortly after my classed ended yesterday, I attended a Kellogg Networking Reception hosted by Kellogg BMA, HBSA, and ABC student clubs  Like most networking events I’ve attended, this one was a lot more fun and productive than I originally expected.  While some of my friends and classmates were focused on speaking to the firms that they wanted to work at, my goal was to leverage people I’d met in the past and my knowledge of different industries and companies to speak with as many employers as possible at the event.

More than simply chatting with employers about my future prospects at their firm, my goal was to talk to as many employers as possible. I drew on my work experiences with life sciences companies to engage in conversations with health care companies. I leveraged my start-up and technology experiences to chat with one or two of the technology companies there. And I also chatted with a few consultants from the various consulting firms and recruiters from the banking industry.

But more than just meeting people for the first time, the night was also the result of many proactive engagements based on previous interactions I’ve had with recruiters. Among others, I spoke with the Bain recruiter, whom I met eighteen months ago at a Bain event in NYC (click here for my post on the Bain event). I also spoke with an old friend, who graduated from Kellogg and works at a healthcare company on the east coast. It turns out, she was the first person I met on campus during my campus visit in early 2008. (click here for my reference to meeting her).  And finally, I also spoke with the recruiter I met from Google, whom I met when I was out in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago (click here for my post on NBMBAA in Los Angeles).

In the end, my experiences reinforced the idea that the world can sometimes be very small and that networking with people in a wide variety of industries is fun and useful, especially when many of them were Kellogg alum. I was glad for the opportunity to meet new employers and speak with ones I’d met before. I look forward to more events like this throughout the fall.

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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Diversity No Comments

MLT MBA Prep Deadline is October 31st

If you Google any prominent leader in business today, you’re guaranteed to find a story that talks about his or her large network. While this may not have always been the case, in today‟s Internet-driven global economy, leaders must figure out how to connect with millions of people around the globe to be successful. One common way people build strong networks is by going to a top business school (like Kellogg) and forming connections with hundreds of people that will be successful. Another way people do that is by working at firms where networks where networks are prioritized, such as Bain or Mckinsey.  Well, a third way to do that is by joining one of the world’s up and coming business school organizations, Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Hi Everyone: The purpose of this post is to let everyone know that the deadline for MLT’s MBA Preparation Program is approaching. The program’s mission is “to prepare minority young professionals for successful application to leading MBA programs” and I mentioned above, the program’s network is one of the strongest in the business world period.

But more than just a network, the program also provides you with valuable coaching around career options, a better understanding of the business school application and recruiting process, a better understanding of the importance of soft skills and finding the right fit for your career, and last but not least, an orientation toward service and giving back to the community.

If you’re interested in joining an up-and-coming organization with arguably the premier MBA network in the world, then be sure to apply by the October 31 deadline.  And keep in mind that MLT has a rigorous screening process. The program seeks to admit people that have a track record of success in the past, that demonstrate initiative and that show potential for the future. So be sure to submit a strong application.

I went through MLT in 2009 and I thoroughly enjoyed the process, along with the vast majority of those in my class.  I also attended one of the sessions last year, as a guest panel speaker. Click here to read more about that event.

And to learn more about MLT in general, see a few of the links I’ve shared with you below.

  1. MLT Homepage: Click Here
  2. MLT On CNN’s Black In America: Click Here
  3. MLT Leadership Team: Click Here
  4. CNN Article on MLT in 2007: Click Here
  5. CNN Article on MLT in 2009: Click Here

Are you convinced about MLT yet?

If so, click here to begin your application.  Good luck!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Careers, Diversity 2 Comments

NSHMBA 2010 Conference In Chicago

Six days from now, more than more than 700 people will come together for a breakfast in downtown Chicago.  And after that 8,500 people will join them in an event that some will consider the opportunity of a lifetime.  A chance where many of the attendees will not only leave the weekend with new friends and new job prospects, but some will also leave with the summer internship and full time job offers they’ve been dreaming of all year.

Hello everyone, I am just writing to quickly let you know about the NSHMBA Annual Conference and Career Expo. This event is the nation’s largest Hispanic MBA conference, and it’s coming up in Chicago on October 21-23 in Chicago.

As mentioned, NSHMBA’s expecting more than 8000 attendees and more than 250 corporations at this year’s event (click here to see the list of companies). Having recently gone to the NBMBAA Conference (click here to see my post), I’ll tell you firsthand that the Annual Conference is where NSHMBA really shines. And best of all, it’s here in the great city of Chicago!

A number of my Kellogg classmates will be there, including me as one of the winners of the NSHMBA scholars award.  The great organization of MLT will also be there, as will some of my good friends from Cornell’s Johnson School of Business, MIT Sloan, and the Wharton School of Business. Further, most of the local schools such as University of Chicago Booth, Loyola School of Business, and University of Notre Dame, will be there too. And that’s in addition to the NSHMBA corporate partners, which include most of the world’s top companies to work for.

And together, they’ll all partake in the opportunity not only to help catapult people’s career, but more importantly to support the “race” to bring diversity to our professional communities.  And the timing couldn’t be any better. After all, we did just finish up Hispanic Heritage Month yesterday (click here for my post on last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month).

So what about you  … Are you coming?

Feel free to drop me a line if you are. Hopefully see you there.

Saturday, October 16th, 2010 Business School, Diversity 1 Comment

Super Saturday At Kellogg

The ability to work hours at a time in business school can be very useful.  Consultants have to do it, as they not only have to do their day to day work, but also travel around the United States to serve their clients.  Investment bankers also do it, especially when it’s time to close a deal and the Managing Director needs you to finish the pitch book. And we all know that entrepreneurs have to do it, because their company livelihood depends on it. But what a lot of people don’t know is that MBA students also have to do it, as they not only have to do their school work, but also balance that with extracurricular activities, recruiting, and social activities that come along with business school.

For most people at Kellogg, business school is definitely a lot busier than they thought it would be, both academically and non academically.  One example of that was last week where veryone here had a very busy week academically and socially. We had our final paper in our  MORS 430 class that was due just days ago.  Many of us also had a group Strategy Case for my MGMT 431, and two other problem sets due last week (and next week). In addition to that there were other activities taking place. For example, today, a pretty large number of  students here are taking part in the IPO challenge (click here to see that Kellogg won in 2007), which is where students interested in finance are simulating the work necessary to complete an IPO. It’s a 24 hour project starting Saturday morning and ending 24 hours later.

And just last Saturday was another super Saturday at Kellogg.  In the morning, about 200 students came out to take part in the annual Kellogg volunteer day, called Kellogg Cares. It was a way not only to meet up with 200 first and second year students in the morning but also to give back to the local community by spending the Saturday working on a project in Evanston. In my case, I went out to Haven Middle School to help with leading fun and educational sessions for sixth grade students. One of my good friends in the JD-MBA program was also there, and we worked together on some of the logistics of the event. I also helped with the Mad Science experiment session, because my KWEST Mystery group was helping to lead that session.

After a full day of volunteering, everyone headed back to Kellogg, and most of us attended the Kellogg Tailgate right outside of the Northwestern football game.  Although a lot of us didn’t attend the game, it was still a fun experience, in part because the team here is doing pretty well but also because a lot of people came out to the event.  A number of first and third the JD-MBAs from the law school (second year JD-MBAs are at Kellogg) came up for the tailgate too.

And after that, Kellogg performed its annual Special K performance, (two Mystery Trip leaders starred in the show),  before heading out to Evanston for the night to celebrate.

Unfortunately, it’s almost always impossible to take part in everything that happens here on campus. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day.  At the beginning of the quarter, many of us thought we could take part in everything, but as time goes by, everyone comes to realize that it’s not realistic, or even possible to do everything. And that’s especially true for those that want to put in more time academically.

But that’s also one of the most valuable insights that you learn in business school. That we all have to make important tradeoffs. Because activities are happening all day here at the school, but eventually have you to start choosing which are important to you, because there’s not enough time for everything. And over time, you realize that time becomes more and more valuable and you have to start being ruthless with how you use it, so you can make the most of your experience. Most people here forgo a little bit of sleep to do as much as they can but in the end, most people realize that we’re better off making smart strategic choices.

For me, I’m glad I went to Super Day at Kellogg last week. In my personal view, volunteering is important, and so is taking the time to see many of my classmates on Saturday afternoon, and support my Mystery Trip friends at Special K. But for now, back to the books.

Friday, October 15th, 2010 Business School No Comments

McKinsey Comes To Kellogg

Just yesterday, first and second year MBAs gathered after classes to attend a networking event hosted by McKinsey & Company.  A variety of firms have hosted similar events since school began a few weeks ago.  These mixers have not only been a great way to learn about the companies themselves but also a way to meet some of the professionals and recruiters who work there, many of which are Kellogg alum.

Conventional wisdom says that when it comes to management consulting, McKinsey is the gold standard. Well, whether that’s true or not, the turnout at the reception certainly supported the idea. Last night over 200 of my classmates came together at the Orrington Hotel to meet McKinsey consultants. About half of them were second years who are gearing up for interviews with the firm over the next week or so. And the other half are first years, who are gearing up for the next few months of networking and receptions, before recruiting officially takes place in January.

Overall, the reception served two purposes. First, it allowed people to start to learn more about McKinsey. They firm did that by kicking off the event with a presentation and also by leaving time at the end for Q&A with consultants and former consultants.  Second, the event was also a way get to know more people who work at the firm. From the Midwest office to the Northeast office and from those who worked on strategy cases to those on the Business Technology team, McKinsey was well represented. Kellogg’s local recruiter was at the event, as were thirty to forty other consultants and former consultants, some of which are current students at Kellogg now.

Most of the night served the second purpose. The McKinsey team spread themselves out around the room, separating themselves at various networking tables based on office.  As you might suspect, the consultants I met at every table, were not only accomplished but also happy to be at the firm and excited about how they thought McKinsey was impacting their careers.

I met one consultant with a background in IT consulting who now works in McKinsey’s Business Technology team. I also met a partner from the Cleveland location, another consultant from the Chicago location, another from the west coast office, and another one who came in all the way from the Shanghai location. In addition, I also spoke with a few Kellogg students, some of who worked at the firm prior to Kellogg, another who just graduated in 2010, and another Kellogg student in the class of 2011 who spent last summer at the firm last year (click here to read his blog).

As a 1st year JD-MBA at the law school last year, I spent most of my time at these mixers just to meet a few new people without any real intention of recruiting, given the timing was still early. But this year is a bit different, as I’m recruiting for jobs here in business school. Fortunately, McKinsey is a big supporter of hiring from law schools and especially from the JD-MBA program. One example of that is John Livingston, a JD-MBA alum in 1993, and the Managing Partner of McKinsey’s Chicago location. John did not attend this specific event.

The whole process of getting a consulting job looks like it’s going to be long, just like applying to business school. But the process should also be fun and should be a fun way to meet a lot of interesting people over the next few months. It will be interesting to see how the next McKinsey event, and the upcoming consulting events shape up. It will also be interesting to see how the crowd at the event changes over time.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010 Business School, Careers 4 Comments

Breakfast with Second Year JD-MBAs and Northwestern Law Administration

Just over a year ago, I began my time in the JD-MBA program at Northwestern Law School.  Because we had the JD-MBA program in common, many of the JD-MBAs came together before school ever began, and bonded early in our first year as 1Ls, largely for three reasons. First because the school was smaller, so we ran into each other a lot more often. Second because there were fewer sections, so there were more JD-MBAs in each section. And third, law school is a lot of work, so we relied on each other a bit more.  All this of course, is in addition to the fact that we’re in a unique program so had an immediate connection. On the other hand, our time at Kellogg has been a slightly different experience so far.

For one, here at Kellogg, the student body is much larger, so we don’t naturally run into each other quite as often. Similarly, because there are eight sections (nine with the 1Y class), we don’t have as many JD-MBAs in our sections or elective classes. Add to that the fact that it always seems like there is a lot more to get done and a lot less time. And as a result, I’ve seen a lot less of the JD-MBAs than I did last year, or over the summer.

But this change was not unexpected. After all, during the summer, a lot of people began taking different classes, and after summer was over everyone’s summer ended at different times, everyone moved to different locations here in Evanston, and everyone attended a different KWEST trip (click here for my post on KWEST)(click here for my post on KWEST Mystery).

On the other hand, the good news is that we have 600+ new classmates here at Kellogg, all who come from impressive backgrounds and have interesting stories. And for most JD-MBAs it’s a very natural fit being here, because many of the students are more oriented to the MBA curriculum, as most were comparing the JD-MBA here versus other business schools.

In light of our tricky transition from the law school, the administration scheduled a breakfast today for the 2J (i.e. 2nd year JD-MBA) class, at the Allen Center. In addition to the 20 of the 2Js who attended, Dean Van Zandt of the law school came, as did Lesley Kagan and Cliff Zimmerman, both leading administrators at the law school. Similarly, a number of staff members from Kellogg were also in attendance, including a professor, a career services representative, and a couple of administrative personnel, including Dean Langewisch.

It was good to see some of my JD-MBA classmates again as well as see some of the staff members from the law school. Hopefully we’ll all see each other more often now that we’re starting to get into a rhythm at Kellogg.

Stay tuned to hear how it goes!

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 Business School, Law School No Comments

What To Do When Things Get Too Busy

The past week things have really started to pretty busy here at Kellogg. Starting this week, I’ll have multiple classes every day, team meetings for those classes during the afternoons, board meetings for activities during lunch time and the evenings, and case projects and problem sets due toward the end of the week. And this is all in addition to the chaos that’s about to start taking place when recruiting season begins over the next few weeks. Sounds pretty busy, right?

In spite of how busy things are getting, my lofty goal is to continue to stay on top of everything – class, school activities, social activities, and eventually recruiting – and I suspect that many of my classmates have the same goal. After all, Kellogg is filled with students who have not only done extremely well professionally, but also with people who have been active in their communities outside of work.

One reason students do this well is because many people do take part in activities that combine a number of the things I mentioned above (i.e. academic, professional, social) when possible, such as taking part in professional clubs with friends and having socials and get-togethers with section mates and learning teams, where they can combine building relationships with school and networking. This way students can interact with people from multiple communities they are involved in.

Another reason students do this well is their ability to manage time well and be efficient. That means they devote the right amount of time to the right activities and have just enough time to do everything, rather than taking on too much and getting in over their heads, something business school students consistently do, at least initially.

But no matter how hard most of us try, the typical student says it always feels like there’s not quite enough time to do everything.  And that’s scary since we’re not even at our busiest point of the year yet.

One thing students do to combat this increasing busy-ness is to be more proactive about getting things done early. For some that means to write out lists and checking things off as they are finished.  But for most students this isn’t usually the perfect solution, since it’s pretty easy to break away from your list and get caught up in other activities or just add more activities to the list.

Another thing students do is take on less activities in the beginning. In a recent conversation, one of my classmates said “I don’t want to get involved in many things this early but instead want to focus on school on friends for the first quarter, before choosing what I want to get involved in.”

And there’s also another group of students that take an alternative approach.  Their thought is that when things get really busy, you should consider doing nothing – don’t do any work, close your laptop computer, stop checking your phone, and stop thinking about the day-to-day details of your work – and putting the chaos down for just a few minutes.

To be fair, I don’t literally mean “do nothing.” After all, it’s probably physically impossible not to do some thinking when you’re alone. But in my personal experience, spending time away from the hustle and bustle and instead taking time to reflect, think, and do nothing in terms of work can sometimes be good for you.

Don’t get me wrong,  I do realize that doing this is pretty challenging, given the biggest challenge everyone has in business school is not having enough time. So it seems pretty counterintuitive to spend time doing nothing rather than studying for your upcoming interview, finishing a problem set, or going out with classmates. On the other hand, taking just a few minutes to reflect and organize your thoughts can be useful.

For some, it might just be a good way to relax. And for others it’s a way to think not only about strategies to get everything done for the week but also about your big picture goals in business school.

But be warned. At Kellogg you can’t always expect to have the free time to just do nothing. Instead, you have to set up a meeting time on your calendar to actually do nothing. Otherwise, it is likely that one of your classmates will book an unexpected meeting with you to talk about school work, and you might not find any free time all day.

In sum, Kellogg students should be sure to figure out a way to cut the clutter for just a short period of time each week. I suspect it will not only help us to relax but also to better take advantage of the interesting opportunities Kellogg has to offer. I hope that the strategy works for me.

Monday, October 4th, 2010 Business School 1 Comment

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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