Archive for March, 2011

Spring Quarter Classes

It takes a lot of time and energy to do well at Kellogg, so most people expend a lot of effort to ensure they choose the right classes. They configure and reconfigure their schedules. They ask friends what classes they are taking. They look at professor ratings from prior years. And they pick classes that not only help them get certain majors, but ones the seem interesting and that might give you certain skills that could be useful professionally.

Typically during the first week, students think a lot about this whole process. More time than you might think actually. They attend more classes than they’re actually registered for. They add and drop a number of classes in the online system. And they strategize with classmates to pick the classes that will best set them up for success.

Personally, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the classes I am taking. The tricky part is that as a JD-MBA, I have slightly less time at Kellogg, so I want to get as many classes in this year as possible.  On the other hand, my classmates have all of next year to take courses they might be interested in, so they have a bit more room for error, and don’t necessarily have to max out their schedules.

Well, without further adue, below are the courses that I am taking this quarter with a brief reason about why I am taking them. In general, my goal was to take as broad a mix of classes across a number of different departments. Similarly, I also chose classes that were more on the end of “interesting” than on the skills end. And finally, I also picked classes that would help me finish up a couple of majors here at Kellogg.

Entrepreneurial Finance:Taught by the renowned Professor Rogers, this class is supposed to be one of the 1 or 2 best classes at Kellogg.

Leadership Coaching: Although this class doesn’t give you credit toward graduation, it gets very good reviews every year and topically is very interesting.

Strategy in Non Market Environments: I am taking this class to help me finish the Social Enterprise (SEEK) major. Fortunately, it seems like the class is going to be very interesting too.

Leading A Sports Entity: Co-taught by James Phillips, Northwestern’s Athletic Director and John McDonough, President of the Chicago Blackhawks, this is one of Kellogg’s most high profile classes this quarter.

Operations Management: This is my last core class ever at Kellogg./

Managing Interactive Media: This class is supposed to have a good list of speakers from top media and technology companies and will also help me to finish the Media Management major.

In the end, I have a full course load, but I also have pretty good reasons for taking all the classes. Stay tuned for more information on how the classes progress as the quarter goes on.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 Business School, Careers 1 Comment

Spring Quarter is Finally Here

Winter quarter is traditionally regarded as the hardest term at Kellogg. Not only is it cold, rainy and snowing a significant amount of the time, but you’re also still taking core classes and in the midst of their first year job search. Further, students taking the Kellogg Global Immersion in Management class don’t get a real spring break. Instead they take winter quarter final exams early and straight out to another country to take part in a research project until the spring quarter begins two weeks later.

After a long winter quarter, all of us finally made it to spring quarter. “Thank goodness Spring quarter is here” is what everyone keeps telling themselves. The sun is starting to come out more often. We get to take more elective classes than we had during the first two quarters combined. And we’re closer to our summer internships, which also means closer to getting a pay check again.

But even for those without jobs yet, spring quarter should still be much more relaxing for their search. Because even though the timing is a little tighter to get a job now, the formal process is over, so the search now is less competitive, in the traditional sense. Likewise, many of the companies people are most interested in, such as starts-ups, will soon come to campus since they usually start hiring a little closer to the summer.

In the end, the spring quarter should give students a chance to let lose again and enjoy their time as students. Personally, I definitely plan to enjoy this quarter. Conceptually I plan to take a more fun workload than I did last quarter. Likewise, I also plan to take courses with papers rather than in class exams, and hope to frontload a lot of the work, since I plan to begin working in May rather than after finals. And I hope to spend a lot more time with friends and on working on side projects than I did in the fall.

Stay tuned to hear more about how spring quarter progresses.

Monday, March 28th, 2011 Business School 3 Comments

Last Day in Kenya

After two weeks of a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, and meeting lots of new friends, my time in Kenya is finally coming to an end, as tonight we will be jetsetting back toward the US to start spring classes on Monday. Given the timing, there is only one question that remains. What should I do today before we leave? Especially since today is a free day.

There are two ways to think about the question.

One way to go about the day is to do little, relax. Ideas for that would be relaxing by the state of the art pool, getting packed early, and hanging out with classmates who choose to do the same.

On the other hand, I can also try to max out my schedule today. Ideas for that include going to see baby elephants, going to another market to negotiate with local Kenyans, walking around the city and eating at a traditional Kenyan restaurant.

I know what you’re thinking? That’s an easy question. Of course you’d want to get out and see more on your last day. But it’s not quite that easy,  given we’ve been scrambling for two weeks, given a few of us stayed out in the city the entire night last night, given that all of us have been working enormously hard on the project for the past month, and given we haven’t had any relax time, many people are considering the first option.

On the other hand, I am going to choose the second option. After all, I’ve already written this blog post, gone to the gym, and had breakfast, and sent a few emails by 700am, all after staying up all night last night to celebrate my last night in Kenya with friends.

In today’s world, where business is becoming increasingly more interconnected, and increasingly relies not only on business skills but also on understanding the nuances of different cultures, getting out and getting experience in a foreign country is priceless.

I look forward to getting out today, and sharing a few more stories with you about the expeirence over the upcoming weeks.

Stay tuned.



Saturday, March 26th, 2011 Business School No Comments

Working Smarter

One thing I learned in law school is that to be successful sometimes you have to outwork the competition. Start preparing sooner. Pull longer hours.  And study harder than everyone else in your class. However,if the only reason that you’re winning is because you’re winning more hours, are you actually winning in the end, given the tradeoff of time and other opportunity costs?  That’s one questions that’s been on my mind a lot these days, especially here in business school.

Personally I tend to pull longer hours than most people I know. On one hand, I don’t have a background in finance or quantitative subjects like many of my classmates at Kellogg do. Likewise, I also tend to take part in a pretty large number of activities, probably more than average, so I often have a pretty large number of things on my plate.

I’ve recently come to realize that one problem with relying on time is that it doesn’t scale very well. That means that working 20 hours a day at work will never be twice as good as working 14 a day. Similarly, at some point, you can’t actually work longer hours so there’s a cap to your ability.

On the other hand, one thing business school teaches you is to work smarter. Business school gives you less time, more options, more distractions, and more indecision than many of us have ever had before. And often you’re in a position where prohibited from working more hours on some projects but still have to get it done.

Over the past few years, Ive come to find that working smarter, and finding scale are the most critical things to learn because it teaches you a new and better way of competing.  And if you can improve the way you compete, and still work harder than the rest, you might just be unstoppable in your new ventures.

Friday, March 25th, 2011 Business School, Careers No Comments

Applicant Question: Career Changing and Kellogg Class Size

The MBA admissions process is difficult to navigate. Not only does it take a lot of work to get admitted but it’s also enormously unpredictable. As a result, a lot of people get started doing research early to get a head start on putting together a quality application. They do their best to get good scores and write great essays, and they  also do a lot of research beforehand to find a school that’s the perfect fit. With that in mind, I recently received an email from one of my readers about my experience at Kellogg as she is gearing up to apply to business school next fall.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a pretty large number of questions about interviews from aspiring MBA and JD-MBA applicants. Given the applicant pool for top MBA programs is highly competitive, filled with applicants applying with perfect GPAs and GMAT scores, this year, it seems as though a lot of applicants are ahead of the game.

This reader asked me two specific questions. One in regards to career changing while at Kellogg. And the other with regards to the culture at Kellogg, given the size of the school.

See below for the question and below that for my response.


Thank you so much for taking some time out of your schedule to speak to us and answer questions during the student panel at the MLT Kick off.

As I mentioned, I am interested in transitioning from the oil and gas (energy) industry to the health care industry. Can you provide any insight as to the challenges of going through a career change during the MBA process?

Also, more specifically to Kellogg, I am really interested in applying. However, I am concerned about the large class size and whether it hinders a close knit community feel between the students. Any thoughts on the culture at Kellogg and your experience in general? I’ve read a lot about the reasons to go to Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, what are some of the reasons why someone should not go there?

Thanks again for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.



Hi (name)

Great to hear from you. And sorry its taken a few days to get back – we’ve been taking final exams all this week. That said, I’m glad I was able to make it out to Charlottesville to speak to the group.  Here are a couple of quick responses to your questions.

One, career change is hard but it is doable. I mentioned this in the session a few times – that changing careers in school is not a walk in the park. Why? Because there are usually fewer spots available than there are people going after the spots. So if two people with similar credentials are applying for the same roles, the one with the better background, more relevant story, and more applicable skills might have a bit of a better shot at getting the job offer.
However, fortunately there is good news too. One is that you get two tries to find your perfect role since you can recruit both in the summer, and then again for a full time job in your second year.  Second is that the career change you mentioned is seemed pretty aligned with some of your skills so you’ll definitely have a head start on people doing a pure change.  Likewise, if you know exactly what it is you want to do ahead of time, the process is usually much easier, especially if its a job in industry rather than services.
So while the consulting/banking route might be saturated with lots of people and have a somewhat ambiguous process that doesn’t always reward those who do the most research, the healthcare industry is more specific and you can specific knowledge to really stand out. And finally, another thing to note is that most people go to business school to do some sort of career change. And everyone comes out with a good job. You just have to work hard to make sure you’re successful.
Two, you’re absolutely right. Kellogg is definitely bigger than some of the other schools you might be considering – Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Duke, Tuck, and Johnson to name a few.  On the other hand, Kellogg is also smaller than some of its peer schools – HBS, Wharton.  To that end, I’m of the opinion that picking the right class size for a school really comes down to personal preference, since there are pros and cons to the different classes sizes.
The advantage of a smaller class size is obvious – you get to know a majority of the students there, on average you get to know students a little better than you otherwise would, and often times the community and alumni base is more close knit. On the other hand, a big class size also has its advantages. Big classes usually translate into having more alumni taking part in more activities, more access to professional resources, more on campus activities, and more classes offered by the school.  So in the end, I think it’s a pretty personal decision. Personally, I’m glad I chose big. And even though Kellogg is about 600 students per class, I’ve still developed a good number of close friends.
Anyhow, I hope this information is helpful. My contact info is below in this email. Please do not hesitate to keep in touch as you navigate the admissions process. Also, feel free to reach out if you make it out to visit Kellogg at any point. Happy to help however I can.
All best,
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 Admissions, Business School No Comments

Congratulations Kellogg Class of 2013 MBA Admits

Waiting for a business school admissions decision can feel like one of the hardest things in the world.  Not only do you not know whether you’ll get in or not, but you also don’t know when they’re actually going to contact you, at least not for most schools. Well, after weeks of waiting patiently, and after months of applying to schools all across the country, Kellogg applicants have finally been receiving their admissions decisions this month. And over the past two days, a couple of my good friends have recently been admitted.  So to the members of Kellogg’s Class of 2013, congratulations on your acceptance!

Hi everyone, I’m writing here just to send a quick congratulations to everyone who has been accepted so far.  For those of you who are seriously considering Kellogg, you should definitely make sure you come to Day at Kellogg (DAK) to see the campus and meet your potential classmates before making your final decision.

As an applicant I went to Kellogg’s DAK weekend and had a blast. Likewise, I also went to DAK 1 earlier this year (click here to see my post on DAK 1) to meet the new crop of admits, and plan to come out for DAK 2 this year to meet some of the new ones. Hopefully, I’ll see you there for the weekend.

Best of luck to everyone else still waiting out admissions decisions.

And best of luck to my friend from Kenya who is planning to apply in round three.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 Admissions, Business School 2 Comments

Power of Working Together

One hundred people doing some the same thing at the same time can at times be more powerful than a thousand people doing it separately. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – that math doesn’t sound right.  I agree. It doesn’t sound right to me either. But recently, I’ve come to find that sometimes there’s tremendous power not only in working together, but also in working together at exactly the same time.

For example, take a look at the picture above. Imagine 100 people taking time during the year to turn the levers but everyone coming on different days during the year. It’s possible, even likely, that you’d never have more than a couple of hands turning at the same time which is not nearly enough to make the machine move.  After all, the picture has five hands in it now. On the other hand, imagine you only have ten hands but all of them come together at the exact same time to turn the levers. In that case, coordination gives you enough power to make sure the machine is really moving.

One practical way this lesson has become evident to me is through our GIM trip, where 32 of us have come together to work on helping the Global Health Initiative commercialize an aids device in Kenya.  Not only are 32 of us all working on the Global Health Initiative Project, but we’re also working on the same general issues during the same two weeks.

Despite being placed in different groups with different stakeholders – hospitals, the government, clinics, distribution - everyone has still been working very closely together. Working together means having breakfast together every morning, having mini-team meetings after breakfast, scheduling meetings with the same agencies in Kenya, discussing the same topics with medical and government services employees in Kenya, meeting as a big group during the evening to share our stories and contacts, and getting together after that to wind down in the evening.

There is an old proverb that says, “If everyone in your weekly meeting drops a pencil at precisely the same time, everyone will notice.”  Well, when 32 of us entered the Nairobi airport with our Global Health Initiatives sign last week, I suspect a few people noticed. Likewise, when multiple teams were stopping by the same office in the  Kisumu Provincial Building today and met with some of the same people in some of the same offices, people noticed then too. I know they did because I got a few follow up emails from the agency the next day.

Today, the internet makes it easier than ever before to spread ideas and get people on board.

Well, what if everyone uses the Internet to bring even more people together to solve one of the world’s biggest problems, like poverty, inequality, and the recession.  Will anyone notice that?

Notice or not, I’ve learned that we’re all much better off working together at the same time if we want to maximize our impact.

Monday, March 21st, 2011 Business School 2 Comments

Write It Down

Have you ever had a good idea for a new business, but found it too complicated to get started. Well, what about a good idea for your current company, but weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Well, if that’s you, don’t worry. This is a common problem. But one way you can get started on your next big idea is simply to write it down.

Writing down your idea can be powerful. And even if it’s a rough sketch, write down your idea just to get started. Then once you’ve finished, write it again in more detail.  Next talk through your idea out loud to see if you’ve actually written everything down.

After you’ve written it in detail, then share it with friends.  Next, seek out colleagues to see what they think of your idea.  Then refine your idea based on their feedback.

If your idea is good, then something will stick. If it’s not, then tweak it. And then continually refine it until it does stick.  Soon your idea will not only stick but it will also take off.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. That it’s easier said than done. You’re probably right.  After all, people aren’t easily convinced. But if you’re passionate about the idea, then stay with it and convince them. Persuade the masses. Convince the skeptics of the value. And something great will transpire.

In sum, want to do something great. Then write it down.

That is why we’re carefully transcribing everything we do for our GIM Kenya trip.

Also, that’s precisely why I am blogging.

Friday, March 18th, 2011 Business School, Careers 1 Comment

Engaging In My Trip to Kenya

It costs a lot of time and money to go on Kellogg’s Global Immersion in Management (GIM) trip.  You forego taking another class in the winter quarter. You pay a lot of money out of pocket. And you do classwork during spring break, while your friends are having a blast in various locations around the world. But other than having a blast with your fellow classmates in a new country, does it make sense to go on GIM?

Well, this was the question on a lot of people’s minds all throughout the winter quarter. Every year, second years talk about how great GIM is. Then, first years bid almost all their points into the class excited, but then recruiting and other substantive classes start to take up a lot of time, and so people question whether GIM is actually worth it.  Did I make the right decision? Could I have gotten a better deal financially on my own vacation (the answer is often yes)? Should I have done something different?

Fortunately, people in GIM Kenya (Kellogg’s Global Health Initiative) thought about this question a lot less than some of the other trips did. That’s because this is the single GIM trip that’s rooted in public interest and international development. Nonetheless, the question has even come up in at least a couple of cases.

As I ponder this question personally, I can’t help back to some of my favorite student experiences and ask myself, “Do you remember the presentations from the professor?”  “Do you remember the most salient parts of the lectures?” “Do you even remember the name of the textbook you read?” For a lot of the classes, the answer is no.

On the other hand, I know exactly what I do remember from my favorite experiences: the engaged conversations I had after classes. Helping a friend work on a problem that they found critically important.  The practical discussions about what people are working on, and the philosophical discussions about how people want to change the world.

Fortunately, I also get to engage in these topics for GIM, especially with GIM Kenya.  With GIM Kenya I get to:

Engage in a public interest topic (HIV/Aids project in Kenya)

Engage in a mission critical issue, not just related to the US but also to those abroad.

Engage in travel to somewhere I might not go on my own.

And engage with a diverse set of like-minded classmates who are also passionate about public service and about changing the world (stay tuned to hear more about my classmates on the trip)

In the end, engaging is the most critical issue.

When is the last time you engaged? It’s never too late to start.

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 Business School, Careers, Diversity No Comments

Countdown to GIM Kenya: Leaving Chicago Tomorrow Afternoon

Tomorrow, me and about 30 classmates will be jumping on a plane and jet-setting out of Chicago and finally heading to Kenya, where we’ve all be excited to go for the last 10 weeks. While two or three of my classmates have visited Kenya before, for most of us it will be our first time in the country. To commemorate this special experience, one of our class leaders has been sending out a series of countdown emails, each filled with pictures and words to describe the trip.

Here below is the countdown from the last six days.

Day 6. With a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres (26,600 sq mi), Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and it is the largest tropicallake in the world. Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area (Only Lake Superior in North America is larger.) Lake Victoria occupies a shallow depression in the East African Plateau, and has a maximum depth of 84 metres (276 ft) and an average depth of 20 metres (66 ft). Its catchment area covers 184,000 square kilometres (71,040 sq mi). The lake has a shoreline of 4,828 kilometres (3,000 mi), with islands constituting 3.7% of this length,[2] and is divided among three countries: Kenya (6% or 4,100 km2/1,600 sq mi), Uganda (45% or 31,000 km2/12,000 sq mi) and Tanzania (49% or 33,700 km2/13,000 sq mi).[3] Lake Victoria supports Africa’s largest inland fishery.[4

Day 5. Asante class!  It’s been a fun quarter and the most fun part is only 5 days away!  Congratulations on completing the last class and let’s get ready for our Kenyan adventure! Hakuna Matata!

Day 4. (No text)

Day 3. The Maasai (also Masai) are a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the most well known of African ethnic groups, due to their distinctive customs and dress and residence near the many game parks of East Africa.[3] They speak Maa,[3] a member of the Nilo-Saharan language family that is related to Dinka and Nuer, and are also educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania: Swahili and English. The Maasai population has been variously estimated as 377,089 from the 1989 Census[1] or as 453,000 language speakers in Kenya in 1994[2] and 430,000 in Tanzania in 1993[2] with a total estimated as “approaching 900,000”[3] Estimates of the respective Maasai populations in both countries are complicated by the remote locations of many villages, and their semi-nomadic nature.

Day 2. Something we might run into in Kenya! 🙂  We are all most there!  Don’t forget time change tonight, and good luck with the last finals!

Day 1. Congrats on being done with winter quarter!  Kenya in less than 24 hrs!  Don’t forget to start taking your malarone.  See you all tomorrow at 12:45!

Stay tuned for more updates on GIM Kenya!

Sunday, March 13th, 2011 Business School, Diversity 1 Comment

Friends in Business School

I realized the other day that a fair number of my good friends at Kellogg come from very different circles. While some of them did come from my section, others I met in student clubs that I’m involved in, others while going throughout the recruiting process, some while transitioning in the JD-MBA program, and others study groups that I’ve been assigned to in class.  To my initial surprise, a smaller number of them actually come from the fun nights I’ve spent in Evanston or downtown Chicago.

This quarter, I’ve been working a lot with smaller groups that I did last quarter.  I’ve spent a lot of time with one group for a project in my media management class, and we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well in the process. Likewise, I’ve also spent a fair amount of time working on planning a KWEST trip for the incoming students in August, and I’ve also gotten to know these students really well, especially Josh.  I’ve also spent a lot of time working with a small group of people in the consulting recruiting process, especially my friend Vishal, and we’ve gotten to know each other quite well given the intensity of that process.

In addition to Kellogg, I also realized the other day that I have been working with a few people with regards to my blog.  Dino, Marquis, andEmanuel to name a few. My friend Marquis and I have been talking a lot about our websites and about potential start-up ideas we have for almost two years now.  My friend Emanuel and I have been talking a lot about new media and how to leverage that to have a large impact in the community.  And I’ve also stayed in touch with my classmate Dino since the application season, and we’ve discussed ways that we can improve our blogs and catapult Kellogg’s reputation in the internet atmosphere.

Over time I’ve come to realize that you don’t all-of-a-sudden make friends with people like these after one fun night in the city.  But instead you have to create friendships through a series of more personal interactions. You have to spend more time with them to understand their personal story and learn their career goals. You have to work with them on hard assignments to get a better sense for what they like to work on and how they perform under pressure. And you have to have longer, uninterrupted discussions with them to see who they really are and what they believe in at the core. In the business school environment with hundreds of people in each class and not enough time to make friends with most of them, establishing some of these deeper relationships is critical even though it feels impossible.

One of the simplest things to do in business school is making lots of friends. But one of the hardest things in business school is finding good friends that last well after business school is over.

Friday, March 11th, 2011 Business School, Careers, Consulting 3 Comments

Final Exams Are Looming

One thing about Kellogg is that the academics quarters fly by pretty quickly.  Unlike law school, where semesters are drawn out for fifteen or so weeks, and where the days are drawn out due to the hundreds of pages of reading we have for any single class, at Kellogg, the quarters are each ten weeks and we don’t have nearly enough time to get everything done.  Well, because the last few weeks have flown by so quickly, it’s now time to begin the final exam period.

It seems like yesterday that I just chose my classes for the winter term and took a seat in class to begin the winter term. However, I just realized the other day that not only is this term almost finished, but that I’m more than half way done with my time at Kellogg this year and in the JD-MBA program.

I realized this while chatting with a couple of my JD-MBA classmates, as we were reflecting a bit on the program. When we originally began our time in the program, nobody would have ever imagined making it so far so quickly.  But over time, we’ve all come to realize just how fast everything goes.

Sure final exams are coming up this week and next week. But we’re not as worried as we were last quarter, because it’s easier than ever to get through final exams now.  Now that we’ve taken a lot of them. Now that we have dozens of other conflicting priorities.  Now that many of us have jobs. And now that we know the process will be over in now time.

Don’t get me wrong, final exam period isn’t easy. Especially if you’re taking classes like Finance, Microeconomics, and Statistics. And especially for JD-MBAs, given this is our sixth term here at Kellogg and second year in a row in core classes. Fortunately, we’ve all done this a few times before. And before any of us know it, the process will be over and we’ll be headed out for spring break.

In sum, it’s easier than ever to get through exam period now. Just as hard as it was to get through them the first go round. Funny how things work out that way over time.

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 Business School 1 Comment

MLT Kickoff Conference: How To Get Into Business School

Every business school applicant has an overwhelming number of things to think about. It is easy to get caught up spending endless hours writing, editing, and applying, and you often forget that working hard isn’t quite as effective as working smart.  To help the new MLT fellows with that, I spent the day with them at the Darden School of Business to moderate a panel on how to get into business school.  Like last year’s session (click here to see my post on last year’s session), this year’s session was filled with eager and energetic MLT fellows as well as with a few MLT armed to share information with the up and coming applicants.

At long last, the newest class of MLT’s MBA Prep Program was finally welcomed in person at the 2011 kick-off event.  The event took place at Darden School of Business, and just like last year, I took a flight out to speak with a few members year’s class. Likewise, I also attended the event to moderate a session with the up and coming fellows on how to go about getting into business school.

So what does it actually take to get into a top tier business school?  A number of themes emerged from the panel. Getting started on applications early. Putting the GMAT behind you. Having a community of people to work with. And the theme I continually emphasized, having a compelling story.

This means not just relying on your resume as a banker or consultant, or overestimating the importance of your high GMAT score and GPA, but it also means discussing your story about why you want to go to business school in a way that gets the audience’s attention. And it’s a story that not only communicates your business background and knowledge but also displays that you’ve got business intuition and that you’re a winner.  That you believe deeply in the idea of going to business school. And that you’re up for the enormous task of succeeding, no matter what it takes to do that.

Fortunately, I had three great MLT alum who helped with the panel and helped field Q&A from the aggressive and energetic bunch. Questions about recommenders, industry choices, career changes, grades, and school applications all surfaced. Similarly, questions about difficulty of the MLT program, relationships with your MLT coaches, and networking with schools also came up.  Questions came for nearly an hour after we spoke in the beginning.

One question I answered at the end of the session was in regards to school selection. The gentleman asked, “What if the schools I want to apply to aren’t aligned with the schools that MLT calls my ‘fit’ schools?”  What a great question!! I decided to take that question because I felt strongly about the answer. I gave a two pronged response.

First, it’s likely going to be the case for a lot of you that the schools you want to apply to won’t be perfectly aligned with your “MLT fit schools.” After all, MLT wants to ensure you apply to fit schools to maximize your chances to get in; and rightly so. And on the other hand, you’re probably just gunning to get into all the “top” schools on your list. So understand the difference in MLT’s priorities versus what you think your priorities might be at the time.

Second, and more importantly, I told the audience, definitely apply to the schools you’re most passionate about. After all, part of the reason for MLT, and part of the American Dream is being able to reach for the stars and achieve the improbable. And for you, that means applying to the schools you’re most interested in. Especially since for many of you, this is your big chance to get into business school. So I say work hard, and apply not just to your fit schools but to the schools you’re most passionate about. Figure out a way to make it all work.

After this question, the panel fielded a few more questions from the audience, before we ended the session. And we spoke with a few of the fellows after the talk. In the end, it was a great session!

To summarize, if you get started early, work hard, and have an idea of where you want to go, you can make it into business school. Further, even if your profile isn’t quite up to par with the “average” admit, then just work harder, be a little more strategic, and do everything you can to get in. Because the best leaders know that determination is critical.  And because the most successful applicants not only have a way of defying the odds, but they also understand the importance of telling a good story to ensure that they defy them.

Good luck MLT Class of 2012!

And thanks to Darden for hosting the wonderful seminar.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 Business School, Diversity 6 Comments

Need To Get Organized and Get Things Done

Clutter. We’ve all complained about it before. Between running from meeting to meeting, to getting bogged down by emails and voice mails, we all have to figure out how to manage clutter. And that’s especially true in business school, where the number of meetings is higher and where emails drop into your inbox by the second. And for me and my classmates now, we feel the urgency to organize and finally start getting things done because just one week from now, we’ll all be taking final exams.

When you start seeing all this clutter, doing nothing is not an option. Being passive will only lead to more clutter and eventually make things worse. But what can you do when there is little to remove it?  Well, that is the big question; and the question that I’m also asking. Because in today’s society, where things are moving fast, we’re all getting more involved, and where more information exists, there is also more clutter.

That’s also true here in business school. Classes purposefully give you too much information. Too many pages to read. Too many other things to think about. And very little time to do it all.  So is this a good thing or a bad thing?

In some ways it’s a good thing, as it teaches you how to prioritize, how to make decisions, and how to act in the midst of uncertainty.  On the other hand, you might argue that it also gets you used to not doing full due diligence. It puts you under unnecessarily stressful conditions. And teaches you how make uninformed decisions, rather than though out one.

Hard to say which one is more correct. But either way, finals are looming. I need get organized and focus on getting a few things done, so I can be successful.

Friday, March 4th, 2011 Business School 2 Comments

2011 Kellogg BMA Conference: Maximizing Investment While Building Communities

The Black Management Association (“BMA”) hosted the 24th Annual BMA Conference last weekend February 25 through 27 at the Kellogg School of Management. The event is one of the largest business school conferences at Kellogg, not only because of the number of students and alumni who attend but also because  of the participants who come in to speak for the weekend and the message delivered by the speakers and panelists.

BMA members and conference leaders worked tirelessly to make the weekend a success. Leveraging the alumni and professors networks, we brought in keynotes and panelists such as Soledad O’Brien, Terdema Ussery, and Bridgette Heller, and they discussed topics such as media, business, entrepreneurship and investing. The panels and discussions were engaging and interactive.

The conference kicked off Friday night with an alumni mixer event downtown on the waters of Chicago, featuring both students and alumni. And bright and early on Saturday, Soledad O’Brien kicked off the actual conference and discussed about storytelling. One big theme that emerged from her discussion was that it’s important to have difficult conversations and ask the difficult question in order to tell some of the most important stories about race and ethnicity.

Next up, was a series of speakers and panels all day Saturday afternoon. One panel included James Reynolds Jr. (KSM ’82), Founder, Chairman and CEO, Loop Capital Markets and John W. Rogers Jr., Founder, Chairman and CEO, Ariel Capital Management, in the “Billion Dollar Roundtable panel”. And another panel included Tim King, Founder, President and CEO, Urban Prep Academies, and Carmita Vaughan (KSM ’04) in the “Investing in Education” panel.

After the set of panels was the Saturday Gala event downtown, which nicely concluded a great day of speakers and panels. The keynote speaker for the Gala was Terdema Ussery, President and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. And finally on Sunday, there was the Gospel Brunch, where a diverse set of students from the Kellogg community came together for food and fellowship while the University of Chicago Soul Umoja Choir sang a set of songs during the event.

In the end, the Conference was a resounding success, and it even elicited a short article the next day in the Small Business Chicago online. Thanks to Co-Chairs Stephanie Dorsey and Brianna English for their work over the past year.

Currently, the BMA Club is already thinking about at next year to see not only who wants to have leadership positions in the club but also who wants to help orchestrate the 25th BMA conference.

We hope you can make it to the event.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 Business School, Diversity 3 Comments

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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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