We decided to follow up with some of our past MBA blogger interviewees to see where their admissions journey brought them. First in our series is Abhishek Gutgutia, author of the blog, “The MBA Roller Coaster” and first year student at Northwestern Kellogg. The original interview with Abhishek can be found here.
Accepted: Is b-school anything like you had expected? Any surprises?
Abhishek: Business School has been a mixed bag for me – some of it was as expected and some quite unexpected.
Coming in, what I expected and got was exposure to great classes, peers, and career opportunities. I expected to learn a lot from classes and be able to relate them to my business experience and that has been the case 101%. I have enjoyed every single class till now at Kellogg. I expected my peers to be congenial, intellectually curious, and hard working – this has absolutely been the case, although I must admit the competition has been a whole lot more intense than I expected. Whoever says that Kellogg is an easy-going school is from another planet. The competition has been intense and nerve-wracking and even amidst that every single person is more than willing to stop everything they are doing and help out others. As for career opportunities, I didn't know so many existed in this world. Even the most resolute of persons would find it difficult to find their feet once they are here. Which leads me to something which was wholly unexpected.
It is said that if you want to switch your career and discover your real passion, you must do a two-year MBA; however, I found that within weeks of coming into Kellogg, I had to make a choice – consulting, banking, vc, high-tech, marketing, entrepreneurship etc. etc. etc. – for my summer internship. There was little time to be unsure and test the waters. You had to make a choice, dive in, and hope to survive. Of course, one could argue that you always have a shot at another full-time career come second year, but in most areas, you need a summer internship in order to secure a full-time opportunity. And hence, choices have to made, and now.
Zooming out a little bit, after the first week of immersion, ice-breaking, and bonhomie, I encountered a straight 12-week period of intensity in which you had make a choice at every turn: which club are you passionate about, what courses do you want to take, which industry do you want to work for, which company do you want to work for, are you sure? Are you really really sure? The days would be a non-stop 6 am to 11 pm in most weeks if not more. This intensity was highly unexpected, and I would advise all new admits to use their time between work and Kellogg to really think about every aspect of their Kellogg experience, reach out to current students, and make as many decisions as possible before even stepping on campus.
Lastly, I must mention that the level of administrative support here is unprecedented. The student body and administration here truly breathe as one, and to me that is just fascinating.
Accepted: Looking back, is there anything you'd do different during the MBA application process?
Abhishek: Looking back, something I would do for sure, which I didn't do, would be to visit every campus I am applying to and assess the fit. There are just so many nuances to business school life in terms of peers, administration support, career opportunities, that it would be downright foolish to just go with rankings or peripheral knowledge. I was lucky in that I flew from India to attend Day at Kellogg, and I got an opportunity to see Kellogg very closely and satisfy myself that I had made the right decision.
Accepted: What's your favorite class so far?
Abhishek: My favorite class so far has been Business Strategy. I got a fantastic professor who turned a subject, most would dismiss as fluff, into something tangible and critical. Most of us would lose sense of time in the class, and there would be constant back and forth of arguments and counter-arguments with the whole class alive.
I must also mention the Leadership in Organization class that is pre-term class, rather boot camp, that is mandatory. I think it is the perfect class to start one's business school life as it teaches you the basics of winning team formations, team management, negotiations, and leadership which can be put into practice from day one, especially given the teamwork oriented nature of all classes at Kellogg. In my opinion, this is the cornerstone of the Kellogg experience, in which you have two years to practice and hone your leadership and team management skills in a risk-free environment.
Accepted: Are there any clubs that you are particularly active in? How central to student life is club participation?
Abhishek: I am very active in the Entrepreneurship Club and its events. Other clubs that draw me are the high-tech club, and general management club. I am also a student leader in the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) student leadership team which organizes a KIN Global Summit in late spring at Evanston. I am most excited about this role of mine.
Clubs are absolutely central to the student life here. They are your platforms for leadership experience, and conduits for effective networking and reach-out to alumni and companies. Club leaders work really hard to organize the right events to help the first years make the best use of their time. The only unfortunate thing is that there is such a deluge of club events that you have to make hard choices. There have been rare days when my schedule didn't include two or more events in the same time slot with me torn on the decision. I reiterate: decide before stepping foot!
Accepted: What is the relationship like between first and second year students at Kellogg?
Abhishek: The relationship between first and second years is just fantastic. It takes just an email and active calendar intervention to set up a coffee chat with any second year to talk about anything under the sun. There is a strong pay-it-forward mentality that characterizes Kellogg for me and this is exhibited among the alumni as well who are more than eager to help you out.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about the agribusiness sector and how Kellogg will help you reach your goals in that area?
Abhishek: The agribusiness sector is going to see a lot of activity and disruption in the next 3-5 years given the exponential increase in world food demand. Kellogg has a very active Food & Agribusiness Club run by passionate students and through the events organized by them I am abreast with the world agribusiness scenario and future outlook. This helps me in a very specific way. More broadly the excellent general management education at Kellogg (one reason I chose Kellogg) prepares me for the agribusiness sector as it would for any other, by teaching me every aspect of running a business, and if not teach, give me access to the right people who can point me in the right direction with vigor.
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