They say that time only flies when you’re having fun and enjoying what you do. I joined the full time MBA program at AGSM, Sydney in January 2009 and I had no idea how fast the year went by, when I started packing to move to Chicago in December.
Now who in their right mind would move away from a Sydney Summer, from a temperature of 30 C (86 F) to one with a temperature of -20 C (-4 F). Well, it turns out that if you have an opportunity to study at one of the world’s finest institutions with a desire to make a career in Marketing, small things like a temperature difference of 50 C is not a big deal.
So I continued my MBA journey from AGSM by choosing to pursue a quarter on Exchange at the Kellogg School Of Management (KSM), located on the outskirts of Chicago in Evanston. People felt sorry for me, since I was at the airport catching my flight on New Year’s Eve and when I arrived in Chicago it was well and truly FREEZING. The moment I stepped out of the airport I couldn’t feel my face and I have never worn so many clothes in my life before. Not a good start you might say, but first impressions can be mis-leading and the next 3 months were to be the most fulfilling, exciting and fun filled months of my life.
When I arrived, everything was covered in Snow and it was beautiful seeing so much white everywhere, it was also scary at the same time, knowing how cold it was going to get in later weeks. Like any school, Kellogg has its own way of doing things. The students are proud of the way they run the school, and of course its high ranking and strong reputation in the USA - often compared to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. About 60-70% of the students in the two-year full-time MBA are from the USA, with the remainder comprising people from countries abroad. There are 550 full time MBA students in each year and this excludes Kellogg students from other non full time programs. During my 3 months at the school I tried my best to get to know as many Kellogg students as possible (a habit picked up at AGSM), but that’s a feat even Kellogg MBAs aren’t able to accomplish during their entire course here!
The Kellogg culture is actually quite similar to that of AGSM, diverse, social, friendly, integrative, and all-encompassing. The student life here is just mind-blowing. There are more than 90 clubs ranging from the traditional consulting, marketing and Net Impact clubs to scuba diving, skiing, football, dance and yoga clubs. There also special clubs devoted to people from certain countries like the Africa Business Club and India Business Club as well as clubs devoted to special events that get audiences in large numbers.
On a normal day, there are at least five different events taking place throughout the day. Lunch time is in the same format as AGSM and there are normally multiple events running in parallel during that time. Most events provide lunch, so it’s possible to get through a whole week without buying lunch (yes, I did that) ! Kellogg is the best school for marketing in the world and the quality of lectures is excellent. Some of the courses are really interesting and fun, with assignments that actually give you hands - on learning of the course concepts, and lecturers that wrote the textbooks or case studies themselves. One of our new lecturers was also a contestant on the show Survivor (yes, I am attending that class) !. People normally party every Tuesday (since many students don‟t have classes on Wednesday). Every Friday there are theme based parties in the main hall of the school with free drinks and snacks.
There are a number of bars in Evanston and students normally hang out till late at these bars on Fridays. It’s actually quite common to walk into a bar and find that it is filled with Kellogg students drinking, dancing and playing drinking games. Overall the school is excellent and the most people are really friendly and social, in fact I was even able to propose and get help to organize a Yoga Festival to raise funds for a Chicago based Charity (read here).
Another thing I discovered were 4 magic words that will allow you to have a conversation with any KSM Grad if you ever crash into one, these were:
- KWEST: is a weeklong trip that happens before Orientation. It involves a group of five second year MBAs taking about 15-20 new students on an adventure trip to different parts of the world. They literally cover the whole globe and the options range from Alaska to Thailand. There’s also a special trip called the Mystery trip where you don’t know where you are going till you land at your destination.
- GIM: is very similar to the Business in Asia course at AGSM except that you have a choice of going to many more places. Some of the GIM trips happening next month during Spring break include Brazil, Israel, Zambia, India, China and Japan.
- DAK: stands for “Day at Kellogg‟ . It is a three Day period where Kellogg welcomes all students who have offers from the school and tries to entice them into accepting their offer. Certainly involves a lot of partying, drinking and meeting new people. Special K! : is exactly like the AGSM Revue, except that there is a dedicated committee that plans for it six months in advance. Students involve themselves in a bunch of activities and are trained by professional instructors. It’s like a concert (Kellogg has two student rock bands), a Broadway show and comedy show all rolled into one.
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