Fall Quarter at Kellogg: Redefining Awesome
The single most discussed topic these days on campus is “Finals,” the nickname for end of term exams. So I thought it was time to sit down and reflect on my experience so far, in the eyes of an international student of age above median. As you go through, please remember that this is the experience as I lived it; different students have different experiences.
Imagine you just scored three points in a basketball game and your fans are yelling at you because they’ve been waiting in anticipation. So I come from Cameroon, a place where the word “awesome2” is pronounced as a special distinction, as we have high expectations. Now, I am confused at how often it is used at Kellogg. I hear people saying it everywhere in town, but it carries more meaning here.
For example: a fantastic classmate was looking to name our workgroup, and she came up with Team Awesome3. How did it help? We did great and were united as a team under this identity. In another example, first-year students were hugging behind me recently when suddenly one screamed “oh my g… that’s awesome4…” clearly wowed by another classmate’s success. That’s Kellogg, a place where the word “awesome5“ is rightly abused. People here do really awe… pardon me, amazing things: from winning new venture competitions to building innovative ideas. I find it all simply awesome6.
So it is 4:52 a.m. on a Monday morning, I have a Turbo Accounting assignment due at 10:00 a.m. I have been seated since 11:00 p.m. and am still on problem 28 of 35. What I don’t realize is that the salty water that I just wiped on my lips is from my eyes. I am in tears. There are amazing moments at Kellogg: days running from one activity to another, cheering contests, dinners and late night events sponsored by the school, making videos at 2:00 a.m. knowing you have to be on campus early in the morning, and so much more that I can’t account for.
While you may socialize to the extreme, you can’t miss a class (unless otherwise justified). You have to do your assignments with the group or individually depending on the directions. You are expected to contribute in groups and not free ride (by the way, we do group evaluation at the end). Oh! And you’re also reading the 45-80 pages of text preceding each strategy class.
Skills I strengthened during the term:
- Linear Thinking: When analyzing an issue, no need to jump from part to part if no data suggests I should. Thinking coherently, going beyond the obvious answer and questioning assumptions is what gets me to the right solution.
- Time management: Being late in any event isn’t the most tolerated thing. While people are patient, they have time commitments too.
- Priorities management: No matter what I am going through, delivering on time is what is expected from me. After all, my classmates are facing at least the same situation if not worse.
- Personal Finance Management: There are many fundraisers, social events and trips, just to name a few. If I can’t do them all, nobody will blame me. Keeping an eye on one’s finances is key.
- Collaboration: Perhaps the most important skill. As it turns out for my assignment at 4:52 am, it was actually a group assignment, but my groupmates and I opted to do it individually in an effort to save time. That was learning the hard way. We are way more effective now as a team.
The Classes: What I Learned
- Management and Organizations: My very first lecture, and Professor Victoria Medvec is a dream seller. She has a fan club on campus. Every case is about a CEO facing a challenge; every issue is at the top level. We studied people from Fortune 100 companies. We took decisions for and made suggestions to those CEOs. I couldn’t dream of more for a start.
- Business Analytics I: First contact with probabilities after nine years out of school. Back to school is not always easy. Professor Michael Mazzeo is awesome7. Email him at midnight that you are stuck, and you’ll be surprised at what time he replies.
- Business Analytics II: When certainty becomes uncertain, the most accepted answer is: “It depends.” If your results aren’t robust and your variables are junk, you did a bad regression. After grading an assignment, Professor David Dranove literally says, “If you had less than 80%, come see me after,” a code to say get prepared to sit with me or my assistant until you understand the concepts. While that is exactly the solution, for our busy schedule it means rearranging one’s time. As a result, students are fighting hard to be on top in the first place. And please don’t ask me whether I did see him. It depends.
- Strategy: The most interactive class of the term. The level of analysis that comes from classmates is impressive.
- Professor Danielle Li: Why should company X invest in this business?
- Student A: The high return is appealing… (He is a venture capitalist)
- Student B: What should we compute first? (Engineers)
- Student C: From my experience, typically consumers in this business are price-sensitive and also react to new advertising… (This is a marketing professional)
- Student D: It depends; on one hand there is an incentive to invest given the growth rate of the market, yet… (Did you figure out it’s a consultant?)
- Turbo Accounting: This class is really turbo, consider twice before registering. Professor Mark Finn is awesome8 as well. He will make you analyze live financial data and connects everything to real life. I enjoy his daily news, basically key news around companies (IPO, bankruptcy, etc.).
- Finance I: I learned to like Finance with Professor Phillip Braun. Started with understanding the effective interest rate on my personal loans to now managing portfolios. Really motivated me to take Finance II next term.
- The Dean: This is not a class but the most awesome9 person at Kellogg. The person inspiring the awesome10 things here. So futuristic and insightful, every time I’ve had a chance to listen to Dean Blount, it was all about dreaming big, making meaningful change in organizations and places we live, thinking bravely. It is a catch phrase, but I truly believe it.
Winter Term Forecast: Career Management Center (CMC) is Outperforming
Summer internship recruiting is on its way. We are busy as ever. From coffee chats, to resume review (yes it takes time too) and interview preparation, the clock is running. On campus interviews will start in January, yet the CMC office is outperforming already. I went to a Dean’s event recently, and behind the door was one of our amazing career coaches. I had only met with her once and that was two weeks earlier. As I got in, she called my name straightforward and proceeded to talk about my career situation. Isn’t that the type of support we need and want from our CMC? Once again, I’d call that awesome11.
By the way, if you read until the end, it means you liked the story and for sure you are awesome12. Did I really just use the word 12 times? Welcome to Kellogg!!!
Cyrille Minkoulou Ateba, MBA class of 2015, intended major in Strategy and Management, comes from Cameroon. He joined Kellogg to become a world class leader, a journey which started with diversity. In his words, Kellogg excels in fostering diversity-different views that make the whole compulsive. Africa wouldn’t have so many wars if people had appreciated the real power of diversity.