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By Mari Gottlieb

Before starting at Kellogg, I was apprehensive about whether I would enjoy my business school experience.

I have an almost 2-year-old son, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to truly enjoy my time at school. As I prepare to finish my first year, I can say my concerns have been put aside.

The qualities that initially drew me to Kellogg were the inclusive culture, close-knit community and the extensive resources to support families. Over the past year, I have also developed a deeper appreciation for how student-driven the school is. What this means is that you have the resources and support from both your classmates and the administration to initiate change and bring awareness to the issues you care about.

I recently got to experience the benefits of a student-led culture when one of my classmates and I approached the administration and Women’s Business Association (WBA) about developing a forum for discussing career and family planning topics and formalizing a support system for current and future mothers. The WBA has been incredibly supportive by devoting ample time and resources, as well as prioritizing this topic as an important initiative for next school year.

I recognize that there are not many students at Kellogg who are also mothers. In some environments, this could make it more difficult to relate to others. However, this has not been a challenge for me, which I largely attribute to Kellogg’s culture. I love that my classmates embrace diversity, and I also think Kellogg does an exceptional job facilitating friendships between students of different backgrounds through KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips), our sections and many group projects.

I want other mothers to know that their business school experience can be rich, rewarding and fun. My advice for mothers attending business school is to figure out what is important to you and be disciplined enough to stick with it. Accept that you won’t be able to do everything you want to do or be able to do it as well as you would like. But recognize that you can still do a lot.

Since I do better with examples than abstract advice, here is how I currently prioritize my time during the week (when my husband is traveling for work):

Priorities: *

  • Family: Being home with my son between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. most nights during the week.
  • Social: Prioritizing the social events I care most about each quarter and attending those, and spending time with friends outside of school at least once during the week (I often have a babysitter come after 8 p.m. once my son is in bed).
  • School: Taking classes in subjects I am interested in and learning a lot; from an output standpoint, putting forth enough effort on my schoolwork so that my grades won’t jeopardize any recruiting opportunities.
  • Self: Devoting a couple of hours a week to my own activities or hobbies. This has been harder to maintain across time, but is still important. (For examples, I got scuba certified last quarter.)*When I was recruiting, my two priorities were basically family and internship search.

Where I cut back or try to save time:

  • Student clubs: My only role in a student club is chairing the Current & Future Mothers initiative.
  • School: I’ve had to rein in the overachiever in me.
  • Cleaning and household errands: I limit cleaning and errands to between 30 minutes and 1 hour each day, which is not nearly enough for a house with a toddler, a dog and two cats. I also budget to have a housekeeper come regularly.
  • Online shopping: I buy a lot of stuff online to save on trips to the store.
  • Cooking: Can it be done in less than 20 minutes? If not, then I pass!

I’ve found that my classmates are incredibly supportive, not just of me, but of everyone, and have made my school experience so much fun. I’ve also been able to participate in the activities that are most important to me, while still being there for my family. So I am not just enjoying my Kellogg experience, I am loving my Kellogg experience,

Mari Gottlieb is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. She is originally from California and worked in investment management before Kellogg. This summer, Mari will be interning with the asset management group at UBS.