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There are a lot of things you need to think about when choosing a business school: reputation, location, student population, and proximity to a late night Taco Bell, among others. In my opinion, one of the most important considerations is the strength of the alumni network.

The sole purpose of the MBA isn’t to help you land a job after you graduate. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s chiefly to set yourself up for future success. And as time has repeatedly shown us, it’s impossible to do so without the support and mentorship of others. Business school gives you the opportunity to join an elite group of professionals connected by a common experience and who genuinely enjoy seeing each other succeed in their endeavors. There are incredible alumni at all business schools around the country, but I want to take a minute to tell you why Kellogg’s alumni have blown me away with their commitment to supporting Kellogg students and how they truly embody the spirit of community.

There’s a fair amount of soul-searching in business school. While it’s important to come in with a vision of where you see yourself after graduation, you will learn about a ton of companies and positions you never knew about that make you question what you really want to do. My method of dealing with this self-reflection (other than staring out of my window on a rainy day while drinking red wine) is learning as much as I can about everything out there. Fellow students are a great source of information, but I also want to know what established professionals in the spaces I’m interested in are doing.  And so I turned to Kellogg’s Alumni Directory.

The Kellogg Alumni Directory

I filtered on my industry preference and found about 50 alumni. I identified about 20 that seemed to be doing exactly what I hope to do, and sent introductory e-mails requesting time to chat. It was the Saturday night before Christmas, so I figured I wouldn’t really hear back from anyone until early 2014. Instead, I had received five responses within the hour and another 10 the next morning – all eager and happy to talk to me about their experiences and my background and interests. From Managers, to VPs, to Presidents – no one was too busy to help out a fellow “Kellogg-er”.

Everyone I spoke with was incredible. They were honest and helpful, and some even offered to submit my resume to HR. Most of all, they gave me advice on how to best position myself to succeed, wherever I choose to go.

At the end of these conversations, I would thank them for their time, but their response was consistent across the board. This was their duty as a Kellogg alum, one they took pride in and one they enjoyed doing. They only asked two things:

  1. I stay in touch.
  2. I pay it forward.

And so, prospective students, if you are looking for a long-term relationship with an incredible group of people, Kellogg is exactly the school you’ve been looking for.

Sheila Shah (@Sheila1030618) is a first-year student in the 2-Year MBA program. While at Kellogg, she’s focused on healthcare, innovation, and entrepreneurship and is involved in clubs from Board Fellows to High Tech.