I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of education these days. And I’m not the only one. Every year thousand of people think about it, while they are taking entrance exams, trying to get into the best school they can. Then again when they’re taking professional exams. Trying to learn as much material as they can to go work in certain professions. In my view, the purpose of school often gets entirely lost.
Think about it. The purpose of education is to learn and to get access to more information and opportunities. Not only job opportunities but opportunities to travel the world, learn about new cultures, and explore new ideas. To find your passion, not only professionally but also academically and culturally. And in the end, to come up with new ways to contribute to society.
But today, more than ever, that is being lost. Today, every one of us is forced to think longer and harder about loan papers and assess how much debt we have to pay back.
We feel pressure to land six figure jobs to stack up with our classmates or at least lead us into the Promise Land of status and wealth. To go into finance, law firms or the best hospitals in the world to ensure that school was a good use of our time. Dont’ get me wrong, all that is great – competition, rigor and some level of screening.
But that’s not the purpose of school.
Given the time and money being invested, not only by students but also by taxpayers, we should be thinking more about this. Every student and parent should be pondering. And every taxpayer should be chiming asking about it.
What is school for? Are we doing it right? Are students learning? Are we better off? Or is the hyper-competitive system burning out some of our best and most independent thinkers?
Truth be told: I don’t know the answers either. But if you’re not at least thinking about it, maybe you should be.
In today’s multi-dimensional, interconnected world, success in business is harder than ever before. Not only do you have to be hardworking, smart and a little bit lucky, but you also need as much help and support as possible. In fact, some people say that there’s nothing more important than having support if you want to make it to the top. I propose that one really good way to do that in business is to have a “Sponsor”.
I know what you’re thinking: What exactly is a sponsor? And how does a sponsor differ from a mentor?
Mentors, are what most people tend to have. They are people that offer friendly advice. They offer career conversation when you need them and sometimes before you need them. Not only will the tell you about their own experiences but when possible, they will give you as many tips as they can.
On the other hand, a sponsor is someone who uses their own power and influence on their protégé’s behalf. Not only do they advocate for their performance but often times for their next promotion. Sponsors also help their protégé understand what they can do at a company, make connections to senior leaders; become more visible; and open up career opportunities. In short, sponsors pull you up to the next level.
On the other hand, not having a sponsor means that you don’t have people fighting for you when it counts. You might have people making decisions about your career who don’t know who you are or who have no real vested interest. And as a result, it can be harder to get on a key project, harder to get support if things don’t go as well as you hoped, and harder to learn how things work at the company.
But don’t just take it from me, take it from VPs I spoke with at Aon, SVP at Amex and another executive at Google, all of whom had the same opinion.
In short, if you don’t have a sponsor yet, think about how you might be able to find one.
Sometimes, there is nothing more important than good timing. When you’re applying to graduate school. Trying to find a new job. Hoping to get a promotion at your company. Or even looking to meet that special someone. No matter what the activity is, sometimes, timing can make all the difference.
When timing is bad, there might to be far more school applications than ever before, a boss that doesn’t want to put in a good word for you, or a gatekeeper at work that won’t help you get in front of the person you need.
On the other hand, when timing is good, everything you need can work in your favor. That gatekeeper will get you in front of the senior person at work. There’s an extra seat in the class because less people might have applied. Or your boss is having a good year and wants to see you succeed as much as he wants to do well himself.
I have a personal example from just this weekend. Small but a perfect illustration.
I was in an airport in another country. I was about to make my way back to the US and was mistakenly given a middle seat even though I was assigned an isle. But by the time I noticed, there was little I could do given the organization of the airport at the time.
But we just so happened to make our way toward the gate a few hours early to make sure our flight was still on time. Nobody was at the gate and the plane before ours was a bit delayed. We were about to make our way back to the cafeteria to wait out our flight there, since there weren’t enough open seats for all of us at the gate.
All of a sudden, a gate attendant speaks over the intercom, ”Everyone that needs a seat change, come by the gate so we can get your seats finalized.”
The timing could not have been any better. At that moment, I was about two steps from the gate. So I walked over and got in line, just before watching about 40 other people do the same. I told them about my mishap, and not only do they stick me in a window seat but it just so happened to be next to one of the guys I had went on the trip with. And they told me, there were only 2 window seats left, and that I was lucky to get one of them.
It reinfored the idea, that sometimes timing can make all the difference.
Have you ever thought you would do something a week or two from now, but it turned out that you didn’t have the time? Or maybe you were too tired so didn’t feel like it? But in retrospect you would have been much better off had you gone through with your original idea?
It can happens to every single person I know.
Works get busier than expected, so the dinner you had planned next week, never got finalized. Your feeling down after a few bad incidents at work, so you opt not to go to the event because – and you don’t have to since you never bought the tickets. And in some cases, you have so many things on your mind that you just forget the outing that you hoped to remember to do the following week.
In retrospect, sometimes you be much better off if you just scheduled the trip in advance. Bought the ticket. Committed to someone else that you’d be there. Not rely on the hope that you buy them later. Because when things get busy or when you get down, not only do you start to forget about events, but sometimes you just skip them because you don’t feel up to it.
I propose the idea that sometimes (not always but sometimes) it’s better to build things in. To buy a flight in advance. Commit to someone you’ll be there. And mark it in your calendar now.
Because if you don’t build it in now, chances are you won’t do it later.
What do I do now? That’s the question people a lot of people are asking themselves. MBAs that just finished business school. Law students that just finished the bar exam. Friends and colleagues that finished their big project that kept them captive at work.
Often times, we encounter big taks and we have to go face to face with really hard work. And the harder the work the busier we all become. And I suspect that the trend never really ends. But every time there comes a point where it all comes to an end. Life has to go on. And we have to figure out what to do next.
In most cases that’s easy with a little advanced planning. That’s why most people plan trips after a big exam. Family vacations after your big project at work. Places you’ve always wanted to go if you decide to finally quit the job you’ve always wanted to quit.
But what happens when the work is harder than you thought? When time slips away? Then you find yourself asking, “now what.”
Advice from someone smart that has been there: “Enjoy your freedom. It’s not going to last.”
Powerful quotes need to be spread to the world. They need to be told in person, online, and anywhere people can see or hear them. This is one of those quotes.
Most people complain about their cups being half empty. A smaller group of people consider themselves optimists and say, “no my cup is half full.” Then most of the rest of the people like to debate, which one is better.
Instead of any of those options, I propose we stop debating and take Cory Booker’s advice. That we find someone that needs a drink. And give them the water.
Thousands of MBAs finished their first year of business school just last week and went off into the workforce to start their summer internships. Some of them went into consulting. Others into banking and finance. And another group went to marketing, operations, general management and a variety of other positions. But no matter which industry people went into, most of them do have two things in common. Not only do they want to do enjoy the experience but they also all want to get an offer at the end of the summer.
Sure, it might still be early, but there’s a lot of things you can do now to make sure you get your offers. But don’t take it from me, take it from this great article I found on BusinessWeek.com. See the MBA advice they gave. I did this morning and it looks pretty solid to me.
CLICK HERE for the BusinessWeek article. See below for the first few lines.
Avoiding MBA Internship Blunders
By now everyone living in the world of MBAs knows that the summer internship is really a two-month interview to determine if the candidate fits in well at the company and merits a full-time job offer.
“If a student completes the internship without (a) acquiring new skills, (b) developing a list of new contacts and professional relationships and mentors, it was time wasted,” writes Vicki Lynn, senior vice president for client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum USA. “The internship is an opportunity to grow and develop professionally, add to skill sets, and acquire mentors and references—for the next opportunity.
But like any opportunity, an internship can also be a potential minefield. Mistakes that can sabotage any hope of a future with the employer are shockingly easy to make. Here are seven of the biggest blunders MBA interns make and how to avoid them:
Mistake No. 1: Partying Too Hard
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the BusinessWeek article.
On Saturday, we had the final event as students here at Kellogg: Graduation. Just like last year, this year’s commencement took place at the Northwestern football stadium. The ceremony started at 5pm (students had to arrive a bit earlier to get ready) and went until about 7pm.
Dean Blount gave the first speech, right after hearing a word or two from the University President Martin Shapiro. Dean Blount’s theme was changing the status quo. She opened by discussing the changes that had taken place in the past few years, some for better and some for worse. She noted, “Being a Kellogg graduate is being a leader who raises the status of a room when you walk in, and not just the status of yourself.” “So go out, thrive, and raise the status of every room you walk into.” And of course, she ended by reiterating her theme of thinking bravely.
* Photo from Kellogg website: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/news/commencement/2012/index.htm
Rosalyn M. Brock, Chairperson of the NAACP, and a Kellogg alum, delivered the keynote. Her key message was to focus on how you can look back to help others once you make it in your career. She noted that a lot of people did the same for us many years ago, and with our Kellogg MBAs, we’d have a great privilege and opportunity to do the same.
* I had the chance to chat with the speaker in a private setting just before graduation
Afterward, we had a professor deliver the remarks on behalf of the faculty. Then the FT KSA President gave remarks as did the PT KSA President. After that, the Kellogg staff spent about 90 minutes announcing over 850 names and handing out diplomas. And 700pm on Saturday 6/15 officially marked the end of our time at Kellogg and in the JD/MBA program.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about Kellogg, Northwestern Law and the JD/MBA program on JeremyCWilson.com. The good news is that unlike many MBA blogs, we won’t stop here. From here on out, I’ll still be writing, and later this summer we’ll be changing things up a bit. Stay tuned.
As recent grads from business school, we all can’t help but wonder how the next few years will be. And how they will be different than if we hadn’t chosen to come to business school, or to Kellogg. Will we be happy? Will we make enough money over the next two decades? And will it be more now that we went to business school? And will we be married, will we stay in touch, and will we be glad we went through the journey? While those questions are undeniably hard to answer, one recent survey did get some good information from one class of MBAs 25 years ago.
In short, members of the Harvard Business School class of 1968 were asked 85 questions about their professional and personal lives years after graduation. Alums were asked if their lives have been easier or harder than expected, whether they were happy and how they thought about business school and life in general.
I’ll note that I can’t speak for the survey in any capacity. Not the methodology, result, legitimacy, accuracy of the reposting online, validity or anything else about the survey. Rather, the reposting and analysis was created and posted on a website called, Poets and Quants. And I simply reposted here as I know a number of my readers will find it interesting.
Below is the result of the survey and an analysis. The results were originally posted here at this link: http://poetsandquants.com/2012/06/15/25-years-later-class-portrait-of-the-lives-of-harvard-mbas/
Can an MBA from a top school make a big difference in your life?
Just about all the applicants to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and other top business schools in the world believe that’s the case. Otherwise, they wouldn’t quit their jobs and attend a prestigious school in a two-year MBA program that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the research largely conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council shows that the vast majority of MBAs have no regrets. GMAC’s 2012 survey showed that 95% of MBAs and business school alumni rated the value of their degree as outstanding, excellent, or good. Nine out of 10 alumni say their graduate management education prepared them for their chosen careers.
Aside from such vague macro data, however, there’s generally little information that reveals what really happens to those who earn an MBA from a top school years after they’ve entered the workforce—until now. Poets&Quants obtained the results of a survey of Harvard Business School’s Class of 1986 that was done for its 25th reunion last year.
Members of the class were asked 85 questions that yielded revealing answers about their professional and personal lives at mid-life. Alums were asked if their lives have been easier or harder than expected, whether they believe America is a better place to live and work now, and if they ever had to hire a defense attorney. They were asked how they met their life’s partners, whether they divorced or stayed married, how much money they make, and what their personal net worth is.
A CLASS PROFILE THAT IS RICH IN DETAIL AND EXTRAORDINARY FOR ITS CANDOR
Because the answers were only intended for the class and not the public, the results are extraordinarily candid and frank. Some 271 members of the class responded to the survey, representing 35% of the total class and 42% of the alums for which Harvard had current street or e-mail addresses.
This is a class that has endured three recessions, including the recent economic collapse that has been the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. It is also a class that has seen vast changes in the world of work, from the sizable impact of international competition to the growing use of technology in every aspect of life. The class has seen dramatic upheavals in societal and cultural norms, from marriage and divorce to the decline of Corporate Elite and the rise of the entrepreneur.
In the year the class graduated, Ronald Reagan was President and Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. A gallon of gas cost 89 cents and the average income in the U.S. was $22,400. A Tandy 600 portable computer cost $1,594 (Apple had only introduced the first Macintosh computer a year earlier). Computers ”were so heavy we all needed help getting them into our dorm rooms and since we were the first class in the history of HBS to have computers, the spreadsheets were incredibly buggy,” recalls Pamela Meyer, one of the ’86 women who made up 24% of the class.
SOME 47% OF THE CLASS HAS BEEN FIRED FROM A JOB, 14% HAVE BEEN DIVORCED
The result of the reunion survey is a fascinating profile of a class, a rich mosaic with both substantive and frivolous facts. Some of the more telling tidbits:
- Even Harvard alums are not immune from downsizings and firings. Some 47% of the class said they had been involuntarily dismissed from a job, while 13% said they have been fired twice and 4% reported having lost a job three times in their 25 years since graduation.
- Sex isn’t a very high priority for the Class of 1986–at least not that they are 53 to 55 years of age. Just 3% of the alums say they want more sex. The highest priorities? Time (31%), health (18%), and peace of mind (13%).
- More members of the class have hired personal trainers (43%) than therapists (41%) or cosmetic surgeons (7%).
- Slightly more than one in four alums have gained 11 to 20 pounds since they wore their cap and gown. Some 15% put on 21 to 30 pounds, while 5% tip the scales with weight gains of 31 to 50 pounds.
- A third of the class (33%) admitted to having slept with someone whose last name they didn’t know (37% for men, 17% for women).
- One in four own 25 or more pairs of shoes (58% of the women and 15% of the men).
- One in five (20%) have skydived, while one in three (32%) completed a marathon.
- About 21% met their spouses at their undergraduate schools, while 14% found their spouses at Harvard Business School (12% in the same Class of 1986 and 4% in the same HBS section). Another 12% met at work.
- The Class of 1986 apparently wasn’t into the bar scene. Only 3% of the class met their spouses at bars. Some 6% said they met at a party, and 4% met randomly on a plane or in a taxi.
- Some 14% of the class is divorced, with another 1% separated. About 5% divorced and remarried.
- Some 18% dated someone they met online, but only 3% of the class married the person they met on the Internet or by some “other commercial means.”
The survey addressed most of the obvious questions any applicant would want to know, including what contribution did a Harvard degree make toward a successful life, how much money does an HBS graduate make 25 years after graduation, and how much personal wealth can a Harvard MBA accumulate in a quarter of a century. The answers are all here as well and they are eye-opening.
MEDIAN NET INCOME: $350,000 MEDIAN NET WORTH: $6 MILLION
For a group that has lived through three recessions, including the worst since the Great Depression, the Class of 1986 is doing pretty well, thank you. The median annual income of a ‘86er last year was $350,000. Slightly more than one in four class members reported annual income of $1 million or more, while 8% of the class said they earned more than $5 million last year.
The median personal net worth for the class was a heady $6 million. But that number only tells a small part of the story. Some 19% of the class reported net worth between $20 million and $100 million. About 4% of the class said their personal net worth exceeded $100 million.
As for other material toys:
- Nearly one in eight (77%) owned a second car.
- Four in ten (42%) owned a vacation home.
- One in four (25%) owned a boat.
- One in ten (10%) owned a full or fractional share of a private airplane.
What about the hard luck cases? About 8% said their personal net worth was below $1 million, with 3% in the under $400,000 bracket. Some 5% said they were making $100,000 or less last year. Asked if the post-2008 recession caused them to “consciously economize or otherwise had a tangible impact on your lifestyle,” only 18% of the class said “yes, meaningfully.” Some 41% answered “yes, somewhat,” while the 40% said “no.”
36% FOUNDED A COMPANY THAT EMPLOYED 25 OR MORE PEOPLE
Very few members of the class are traveling on the rocky ground, to paraphrase a recent Bruce Springsteen song. About 36% of the class founded a company that eventually employed 25 or more people, and an extraordinary 14% have been climbed into the C-suite at a Fortune 1000 company with the title of chief executive, chief financial officer, or another C-position.
How did their lives, 25 years later, match up with their expectations of what would happen? When asked how similar or different has life been from what you expected, only 17% said it was pretty much what they expected. Some 24% said it was “different,” 12% said “extremely different,” and nearly one in ten (9%) checked the box with the statement “What the hell just happened the last 25 years?” The largest single group of the class, 38%, said life has been “reasonably similar with a couple of curve balls.”
PERSONAL LIFE HARDER THAN EXPECTED AT GRADUATION FOR ONE IN FOUR
When asked if life had been harder or easier than expected, only one in ten (10%) of the class said their professional lives have been easier, while 16% thought their personal lives have been easier. A surprising number of Harvard alums believe their lives have been more difficult than they ever imagined. Some 38% said their personal life was harder than expected, while 30% said their professional careers have been harder. (Some 46% said their personal life has so far turned out as expected, along with 59% for their professional life.)
As for the bottom line answer to was the Harvard MBA worth the sacrifice, the class was understandably in agreement that the degree was an important ingredient in its success. Only 1% of the class–three of 271 respondents–believed their Harvard MBA was “not a particularly productive use of my time or money.” Nearly half (48%) described it as “one of the best decisions of my life.” Another 34% said it was a “very important contributor to my career.” Only 13% admitted that going to Harvard for an MBA was “a responsible move professionally but not a big impact on my overall life.” On a less serious note, 3% of the class agreed to the statement “when I meet people who went to Stanford, I am secretly envious.”
What did the class find to be the most valuable part of getting an MBA from Harvard? Some 28% of the alums said the top answer was the “ongoing professional credential” of the degree, while 22% said it was “placement in job after school” and 21% said it was mainly the “education.” About 13% believed the degree’s primary benefit was the “personal self-confidence” it bestowed. One in ten (10%) identified “classmates for social reasons” and 6% said the “network of alumni professionally.” Some 3% said it was “something to drop into cocktail party conversations.”
How much did the degree actually change their lives? Just 8% of the class believes their lives are not at all different by having a Harvard MBA. Some 46%, however, said their lives were “somewhat different,” while 40% said their lives were “materially different” as a result of the degree. Another 5% agreed with the statement “I don’t want to think of my life without HBS.”
EIGHT OF TEN CLASS MEMBERS WOULD HAVE GONE FOR AN MBA ELSEWHERE IF HBS HAD REJECTED THEM
One of the most interesting questions asked of class members was what would they have done if Harvard had turned them down for admission. Eight of ten members of the class (82%) said they would have gotten an MBA from another school. The largest percentage of ’86ers, 27%, said they still would have gone to business school but were uncertain which school they would have attended. However, about 19% said they would have gone to Stanford, 9% to Wharton, 6% each to Chicago Booth and Dartmouth Tuck, 5% to Nothwestern’s Kellogg School, and 4% to MIT Sloan. About 4% of the class said they would have continued to apply to Harvard until accepted.
Politically, the Class of 1986 is the complete opposite of the old adage “Those who are not liberals when young have no heart. Those who are not conservatives later in life have no head.” The class reported a strong preference for Reagan in 1984 and then Obama in 2008, even compared to popular vote totals. Some 63.5% of the class backed Reagan versus a national popular vote of 58.8%, while some 64.3% backed Obama, versus a popular vote of 52.9%.
Most of the class thinks it was lucky to graduate from Harvard when it did. More than half the class believes that America is not a better place to live or work than it was when they graduated in 1986. Some 21% of the class thought the country was “significantly worse,” while 37% said it was “slightly worse.” One of four of the class, however, had a very different view. About 18% said America was “slightly better” than it was and 7% said it was “significantly better.”
ADVICE: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, TRUST YOUR GUT, GET DIVORCED NOW!
Five common themes emerged when class members were asked what advice they would give others. The most common was expressed in such quotes as “follow your passion, “the money will work itself out,” “pursue what is most fun to you,” “do what you love” and “enjoy the ride.”
Oddly, though, the second most common theme appeared to be in conflict with the first. “Focus on making money earlier,” advised one ’86er. “Ignore that pursue your passion stuff,” said another. “Make more money,” added one ’86er. “Get promises in writing,” advised another.
A third theme evolved over the importance of picking a spouse. “Be more careful in choosing a spouse,” warned one’ 86er. “If he seems like a jerk, he’s a jerk.” Said others: “Marry someone else…a screwed up marriage screws up everything else.” And finally one obviously burned class member put it simply: “Get divorced now!”
Many members of the class wished they had taken more risks. “Trust your gut….take some career risks…be more ambitious…think big…there is never a good time” were among the comments.
And finally, many alums emphasized the value and importance of family. “Spend time with your children,” advised one. “There is nothing more rewarding than investing in your children,” said another. “Time will fly by and your children’s lives will never be repeated.”
Tomorrow, I’ll join 600 of my Kellogg classmates at Ryan Field to officially finish off my MBA degree. More than simply one defining moment, tomorrow will be the cumulative result of many engagements in opportunities and challenges, many of which we never imagined before coming to campus.
This achievement was especially gratifying, as much for the sense of being getting through classes like finance, marketing and operations as it was for thinking about things like teamwork, leadership and decision-making under pressure.
It was also immensely satisfying because I’ve also had to balance Kellogg with also graduating from law school. One of the 600 students to graduate this year, only 27 will have had to make that balance. At times it was tough. We often felt busier than many of our peers. But we all passed the “test” with flying colors.
We look forward to walking across the stage tomorrow. To getting our official degrees a few days after. And being part of the Kellogg family for a long time to come.
Stay tuned for more updates and pictures over the next few days.
The Voto Latino conference took place in Southern California a few weeks ago. I went to Los Angeles, CA along with the Education Matters Project to speak on a panel at Voto Latino’s Power Summit and to participate in their inaugural Power Summit.
As the 2012 election campaign season is under way, VotoLatino is launching their first annual conference to give participants the skills they need to organize and remind them of the importance of voting. Organized by Rosario Dawson and Maria Theresa Kumar VotoLatino’s goal is to empowers American Latinos.
Voto Latino also allowed us to collect videos at the conference. See below for the video and below that for some of the quotes from the videos.
- “Because of education, everyday I feel stronger, more powerful and more optimistic.” -Emanuel Pleitez
- “Because it’s the foundation of the American Dream.” -Juan Cuba
- “Give everyone here in the United States an opportunity to create the life that is their dream.” -Rosario Dawson
There’s no formula to doing well. In fact, nobody does well all of the time. On the other hand, there are some things you can do to ensure you maximize your chances of doing well. The more you do, the better of you might be. But you don’t need all of them. Maybe not even most of them. Also, you can’t MAKE some of them happen on your own. In fact, you may not even want to try some of them because it would be out of character for you.
Either way, these are some things I’ve seen work for a pretty good number of people. Without further ado, here is the list.
- Have a WILDY IMPORTANT GOAL and work on it daily
- Spend time with people that will be very successful – they say you’re an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with
- Find someone in college (or business school) who makes it big, and become friends
- Be born with a unique talent, that nobody else has.
- Start practicing a skill, sport, or talent when you are five years old (think Tiger Woods)
- Network your way to the top. Go to as many events as you can until you meet a critical mass of people
- Do a really good job at work and earn the promotions that get you to the top
- Work on important projects that nobody else wants to take on (due to fear)
- Do a good job a promoting yourself and your work. Get noticed by the people that count.
- Work harder than anyone you know
- Work on a lot of things at the same time to gain a lot of different but valuable skills
- Work on one thing and learn to do it REALLY REALLY well- better than anyone else
- Study and work when everyone else is going out and having fun
- Go out and have fun and maintain a happy health attitude that attracts a lot of customers and supporters
- Be lucky!
- Inherit a large sum of money and invest in your own venture
- Jump from company to company, or startup to startup, until you find the right one
- Stay at your company for many years to gain access to its most important work, like many Fortune 500 CEOs
- Tell great stories that make people listen to you and your work
- Give credit to other people, then they will enjoy working with you and giving you more credit
- Be tall and good looking (it has worked for past Presidents)
- Once you achieve your WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL, find another one
- Have a high degree of persistence, live by the motto, “survive and advance” when necessary
- Live by the motto, Done is better than perfect. Sometimes you just have to get things done
- Sometimes, things need to be done really WELL. Be thorough. Avoid typos and easy mistakes.
The last few years have definitely been fun. Unfortunately, we only have one week of school left so it feels a lot like the end of our time in Evanston. While all good things must come to an end, they don’t have to come to an end just yet. Before that happens, we just have one more thing to take part in before graduation. And it is Grad Week.
In short, Kellogg puts on a a series of events during the week of graduation for the graduating class to have a good time together, for one last week. The events start today, on Monday, and go through graduation and include a cruise on the lake, a trip to a Cubs game, and a formal.
Unfortunately, JD/MBAs have to balance this with studying for the bar. And those of us with summer jobs (very very few of us), have even less time. But tonight is the boat cruise, so I’ll be sure to make it out to this event.
See below for our schedule this week for grad week.
The end of the year is finally here! Everyone I know finally finished studying for finals today. To everyone out there, congratulations on finishing. To all those about to start summer jobs, safe travels and good luck. And to all those about to start in the fall, you’re in for a great ride.
But this post isn’t dedicated to talking to the recent grads or admits, instead it’s to quickly highlight some volunteer activities that Kellogg students got involved in this year. Courtesy of Kellogg’s volunteer club, Kellogg Cares, I wanted to share some of the activities that many students in the Kellogg community achieved this past year. Many of which I participated in myself.
1. Blood Drive – 64 units of blood collected, helping to save 192 lives in the Chicagoland area, and coming in 107% above goal (and 15 units above last year’s total)
2. KelloggCares – ~250 Kellogg students, staff, and faculty joined together to help dozens of local organizations for one day
3. KVOL and Run|Bike|Swim Shoe Drive – collected over 25 pairs of shoes for those in need
4. Gift Drive – Collected $1300 in cash and gift donations for delivering 240 holiday gifts for local Evanston children
5. Food Fight – Raised almost $7,000 for Greater Chicago Food Depository
6. Organ Registration Drive – 35 donors registered; talked to hundreds of students who were already registered about spreading the word
7. Marrow Registration Drive – 32 donors registered, spread the word about this lifesaving opportunity
8. 5K – Over $4,000 raised for Children’s Oncology Services to send four kids to camp
9. Clothing Drive – 1,200 articles of clothing collected to help Chicago area adults find employment (over 70% increase in donations from last year)
10. JA in a Day – 16 students volunteered to teach classes of Chicago students on economic and business principles
11. Ten Minutes at TG – 200+ cards made and donated to Children’s Memorial Hospital; 150+ cards/ letters written to women at Deborah’s Place homeless shelter
Not only has it been a fun year, but it’s been a pretty great year of service at Kellogg. We look forward to continuing the trend upon graduation.
You start out with a lot of energy. You go to every class, read every page, and do every assigned problem before class. And all of a sudden, after the 1st week, you feel like you are making huge strides toward your goal. You’re excited and motivated. Only 7 more weeks until the end. But then all of a sudden it happens ….
Then you hit the wall. You get bored. The material gets more dense. The reading seems longer. And all of a sudden, things get a little tougher.
At this point you have to start doing the work. You can’t just get by going to class. Now, you have to do practice problems. You have to write sample essays. And you have to read supplements, all while its 85 degrees outside and while your MBA friends are planning trips, weddings and vacations.
You tell yourself just a few more weeks of this. And that at 5pm, you’ll be done for the day. But you come to find that progress is slow and you need to allocate more time.
At this point, a lot of people want to give up, you want to hang outside with friends. But you see the future beyond the bar. Six figure salary, a job at the firm you pursued the past two years. And paying down that lingering debt. So you keep working.
Fortunately, one day soon, everything clicks. You get in the groove of studying. And then you can see it. You’ll be amongst the few who not only graduated from one of the best schools in the world, but who also passed the bar, and can legally practice law in your state.
And when you look back, you’ll say that the time you spent studying was worth it. The trick, is to figure out how to feel that way now.
2012 is shaping up to be a historic year. Not only are hundreds of incoming students leaving high paying jobs to come to Kellogg, but they’re doing so in record number. Likewise, the class of 2012 can’t wait to take what they have learned here and start working again. And what perfect timing! The financial crisis feels like an event of the past. Facebook’s recent IPO had the highest valuation in history. And the prospects of making it big loom again.
Meanwhile, Dean Sally Blount continues to raise millions of dollars for our new building, where she has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and several other magazines for her fundraising efforts. And Barack Obama is about to run for a historic second term right here in own back yard in Chicago. As the momentum continues to build, many of us cannot wait to see what the future has in store not just for us here in Evanston, but for the country as a whole. But the one thing we must keep in mind is just how much Kellogg matters in all of this.
Think about all the great lessons we have learned at Kellogg – things you just cannot learn anywhere else. We’ve learned the value of teamwork – even though at times we may have hated it as much as we liked it. We’ve learned the importance of not always discussing careers and salaries during KWEST – throwing our pre-conceived notions out the door. We’ve learned what it feels like when our most prized establishment temporarily shuts down (e.g. mandatory KEG reference). We’ve learned and experienced the ups and downs of recruiting – and we’ve made it through with flying colors. And finally, we’ve learned the value that Kellogg places on thinking bravely – whether you like the motto or not.
See, the question is NOT whether we will do well after Kellogg (or during summer internships for 1st years) – Kellogg students always do. The question is what we will do with our great education. Whether we’ll step up to the plate and try something new. And if we’ll work to come up with game-changing, innovative solutions rather than just work for that paycheck. Because with our Kellogg education, we will have that opportunity within our grasp more than ever before.
The problem is that many organizations may teach us to do the opposite. They will “do things by the book.” They will prioritize consistency over change. And they are organized to put your head down and say, “that is not my job.”
The reason for this is that, oftentimes, bravery in the typical work environment is often punished, not rewarded. Most places today are organized around avoiding risks and instead doing what they can to keep their “sustainable revenues.” That’s why nearly every top business school turns out management consultants in far greater numbers than it develops successful entrepreneurs. And why law schools produce lawyers who are phenomenal at giving options but not so great at providing real “here’s what I would do” recommendations.
Think about it — how often do we hear stories from those who have changed the world, telling us that they learned how to become brave and did something new because of work, rather than despite work? Not many.
And that is precisely why a Kellogg education matters.
During times of change, the great leaders are those that want, actually need, to change things. And that only happens when an organization encourages individuals to take brave steps forward. When they are compelled to do things differently. And when they have a great education to help them take that first step. And that is exactly what Kellogg promotes.
In a recent talk I had a few weeks ago, Carter Cast, Kellogg advisor and former CEO of Walmart.com, said the same thing. That “it is important to understand your purpose…to use your time at school to learn what your true north is and be sure to working towards it, even when you’re asked to change the business model.” He ended by saying, “Who cares if some people don’t believe in your idea? Do it anyways.”
Megan Kashner, founder of Benelovent.com in Chicago, reiterated the same thing on her panel at the Social Impact Conference. She shared how she worked in nonprofit from a young age and went straight into the industry after getting an MBA. And unlike the advice of her fellow panelists, she said, “You don’t have to wait. You can go work at a nonprofit right away after business school.” In short, be brave.
And it is no coincidence that both pieces of advice come from Kellogg alumni. Why – because Kellogg opens up new possibilities. Possibilities that only a great education could make available.
Don’t get me wrong. Many Kellogg students will also lead highly successful lives at traditional jobs, and that is fantastic. The world needs us to think bravely in those roles as well. We need CEOs to lead their companies where they have never gone before. We need socially-minded bankers to work on deals that could change the landscape of the industry. And we need investors to take risks on the next big company that will also provide social value. And Kellogg gives them the tools to think of new models, create new types of teams and come up with new ways to solve problems.
On the other hand, Kellogg’s new campaign gives us a platform to also be brave with our career choices. Whether it is starting a business, joining a nonprofit, or running for office, it teaches us to remember that even though making your mark on the world is hard, that with patience, commitment and courage we can take what we learn to do really big things.
So to the graduating class of 2012 – let’s embrace the idea of how much a Kellogg Education Matters. And as we graduate, let’s reach back, convince another budding MBA to come to Kellogg too. And if you have leveraged your degree in areas where we need more MBAs — like social enterprise, entrepreneurship and government— reach back and persuade another student to do the same. If you are going into industries where we need more Kellogg alumni, reach back, hire someone from Kellogg and be a mentor for them.
Now more than ever, the world needs Kellogg students to help bridge the gap between what business is today and what business could and should be. America needs Kellogg MBAs to reach higher and dream more. And if we all agree to set a better example, not only will we succeed, but that, through Kellogg, our businesses will all become a beacon of light to business people in every corner of the globe.
So as the year ends, let’s be sure to remember how much #KelloggMatters and let’s be sure to show the world just how much #EducationMatters. That today, it gives us the privilege and opportunity to take on leading roles in society. So we should treat it as such. We should use it as a platform. A way to give back to those that helped us. And a way to improve access in our communities. For every one of us that got into school, there are tens of thousands of people across the world who would love that same chance – the chance to take that exam we complained about. The chance to have a conversation with a fellow classmate. The chance to have a seat in a classroom as a proud Kellogg student. So let’s show the world we were the right people for those seats.
For those interested, you can learn more about the Education Matters national campaign here: www.educationmattersproject.org
We are 20 days away from changing our lives. Yes, just 20 more days until Kellogg and the JD/MBA program officially come to an end. But for those who are getting excited, don’t get too excited just yet. Because I’ve got two words to temper you just a bit. Two words that are making most JD/MBAs wish they had a bit more time to relax. Bar Exam.
One thing I’ve learned right here in the JD/MBA program (that applies to any program) is that you can’t let up. Because often times, we have to keep moving forward, we have more work to do, we have to learn more about our jobs, we have to keep fighting for every customer. In short, we’ve got to keep running through that finish line.
With just one more paper to go (on the Kellogg side) I find myself still working harder than ever. For many of my classmates, they are more focused on one thing, whether school, graduation or work. But for JD/MBAs, we not only had to finish law school but then we had to finish business school a few weeks later. Meanwhile, we started bar exam prep before Kellogg ever ended. Fortunately, most of us don’t have classes at the moment, but a few of us do have a few lingering projects.
For me, I also have a lot of side projects going on. This weekend, I am working with Latino Legacy Weekend in Austin Texas. We’re still working to move Education Matters forward. I’m also in the process of redesigning my website in a really big way. And I’m also starting to do a bit of work with the campaign in Chicago.
So for me, the year, or even the week doesn’t end with finals. I’ve got to keep moving things along for a few weeks after finals and in reality will be just as busy up until the bar ends at the end of July.
In short, I’m running through the graduation “Finish Line.”
One thing I tell everyone that I speak with about the admissions process is that there is one single question that is more important than the rest. Important to ask students when you visit schools. Important to answer when writing essays, even when they don’t ask you. And important to answer in your admissions interviews. And the question is ….
The question is “Why?” No doubt about it, why is the single most important question you should answer in the admissions process. It’s what’s most compelling things you can give your audience. Sometimes it’s the only compelling thing.
Your readers don’t care if you want to be a consultant, if you want to become an entrepreneur or if you want to become a health care executive. They care why you want to. They care that you want to pursue the dreams that you dad never could pursue. Or that in your home country, there is not enough access to the health care devices to keep the country safe.
So next time you’re writing essays, I propose that you consider answering the following:
- Why is that our goal?
- Why did you say accept that job (or reject that job)?
- Why do you care about leadership?
- Why did you pick them as your mentor?
- Why do you want to start this business?
- Why do you want to go back to school?
The more compelling your answer, the better off you’ll be. In spite of the “what” you write down.
For more information on why the question “why” is important, I recommend a Ted Talks by Simon Sinek done about one year ago.
I just got back from interviewing a student for Education Matters. At the end, she mentioned how smart the people are in her class and also how competitive they are. She was shocked at how tough things can seem sometimes as a student.
But this doesn’t come as a total surprise. Especially at the Medill School of Journalism, where there are fewer jobs than ever. Where the industry in some ways is changing, maybe collapsing. And where jobs are hard to come by.
The same thing holds true at Kellogg and you see it pretty clearly in the recruiting process. Where you apply to a job alongside everyone who has similar backgrounds, who took all the same classes, and who worked as consultants before Kellogg. How can you distinguish yourself that way?
The same thing happens in law school, where everyone is forced to take the same classes, where everyone wants the exact same job after graduation (big law firm) and where many students are light on work experience.
So I propose the idea that it’s not always important to be better, smarter or faster. And sometimes it’s not even important to have more creativity. Instead, I think, it’s because they understand what work actually matters.
The problem is … what matters isn’t obvious. In fact its nearly impossible to tell. It changes by person, by vendor, and sometimes every day of the week. Sometimes what matters is working on the right task. Other times working the right person. And sometimes it’s simply good timing.
The most successful ones are those that somehow find it, capture it, and then proceed to ignore everything else that gets in the way.
But this is easier said then done. Especially in business school when most students want to get involved in everything, and in work, where you want to learn everything about your job. But many of those things are not nearly as important as you think.
Success is often the combination of knowing a lot about one thing, while also knowing a little about a lot of things. It’s about understanding the value of being a generalist and also being an expert. Many times though, we can only opt to be on one side of the fence or the other.
In business, often times people are referred to as generalists. These are the general managers who touch multiple functions, work with multiple teams and work across boundaries and geographies. On the other hand, companies also have specialists. These are the consultants who know a lot about their industry, sector, business unit, or specific task at hand. There is not always a clear cut answer on which one is the preferred route. Even in business school.
Deep knowledge and understanding of a topic surely helps you in a variety of ways. It helps you create better analyses. You gain more access to the numbers. You refine your ability to understand how a particular system works. And once you do that, you can begin to master other similar topics with overlapping content.
At the same time, it’s impossible to become CEO or political leader without also being aware of the wider world. That’s because we have countless interactions with people from different backgrounds, geographies, interests and beliefs as we navigate our daily lives.
On the other hand, the problem today is that the world is getting bigger every single day. The Internet makes the large world larger than ever and for now, it continues to expand. There is also more news available and more issues that we have access to given the world wide web. And there is no way to manage it all. So how can you remain a generalist today?
It’s tempting to spend ever more time pursuing that goal. On the other hand, being an expert hasn’t changed. It’s still equally as hard as it used to be. But still doable?
Which one should we pursue?
Does it make a difference if you have a high paying job or low one?
Does it matter if you have an MBA or a JD?
Every single person still has to answer the question.