2012 Northwestern Kellogg MBA Admissions Q&A with Jennifer Hayes and Erik Mazmanian
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Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham and I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s Q&A.
I want to welcome all of you, the applicants, to the Q&A today. I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about
’s MBA program. I want to give a special welcome to Jennifer Hayes and Erik Mazmanian who will be joining us shortly.
It is critical to your decision-making process, your application, and the entire MBA admissions chances that you know as much as you can about the school to which you are applying. Being here today allows you to ask experts about Kellogg. I want to give a special, special welcome to Jennifer Hayes, the Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Kellogg who will be answering your questions.
As I mentioned a moment ago, also joining us is Erik Mazmanian, a second-year student at the Kellogg School of Management where he is concentrating on entrepreneurship and innovation in finance. This past summer, Erik worked in the International Business Development team at BrightSource Energy, a venture-backed solar energy company located in Oakland, California. Prior to Kellogg, Erik was an executive advisor with the corporate executive board at a professional research and advisory services firm in Washington, D.C., where he spent five years advising Fortune 1000 companies on R&D and innovation strategy priorities.
Thanks to everyone for joining. Jennifer, what is new at Kellogg?
Jennifer Hayes: Thanks, Linda. We are really pleased to be joining you today. There is a lot new at Kellogg which is very exciting. We have had a new dean, Dean Sally Blount, for just a little over a year and there have been some really wonderful things going on.
We have had a reorganization going on here and some new key administrators hired to support our areas of excellence. One of those which I will note in particular is Betsy Ziegler who has come in as an Associate Dean of our MBA programs and Dean of Students. She is here to ensure that there is a best-in-class experience across all of our MBA programs, full-time, part-time, and executive.
We also are in the midst of a strategic planning process. Early next year we will be launching a vision for the school including goals for what Kellogg is going to be known for by 2020. We are all very eager to hear this information.
Lastly, though not for this incoming class, we have announced a new building, a new site, and the architect. We are all very excited to see the launching of that project and to see it evolve over the next few years.
Linda Abraham: That is great. Erik, I would also like to hear from the student perspective what is new at Kellogg.
Erik Mazmanian: First, thanks to everybody for joining. I am very excited to be here. I will just echo pretty much what Jennifer said. I can add one point from the student’s perspective which I have found to be pretty useful and interesting. You can imagine a new dean and a new strategic planning process can be very much of a top-down process where the administration decides what is best for Kellogg and Kellogg then moves in that direction.
We as a student body have really appreciated and loved the collaborative strategic planning process, where all points of the student body—from the Student Association to the presidents of the different clubs on campus—have been almost brought in to co-create the strategic plan with the administration. Not only does it feel like we, as students, have skin in the game, but it also, I think, will lead to a better outcome for the entire school. This is what is new and all of the talk going on in the halls is part of the excitement and involvement in what the next few years at Kellogg will look like.
Linda Abraham: Thank you, Erik. I will turn to a couple of questions. Puneet asks, "I have a question regarding recommendation. Is it advisable to take a recommendation from a current supervisor if he has only known me for six months? If I do not take it from him, does this need to be explained in an optional essay?"
There is a related e-mail question which asks, "What if I don’t want to ask my supervisor because I do not want the supervisor to know I might be leaving the position in another year? I have a colleague who works closely with him or her. Can I ask that colleague and is there any explanation necessary?"
Jennifer Hayes: There are a lot of questions around recommendations and choosing the right person. This is a very good question. Being with someone for six months certainly can mean that they have seen a significant amount of your work. It depends on the relationship.
I think the best recommendation for us to see is someone who has seen you grow, seen you excel, and seen you demonstrate your ability. A lot of this is your judgment. If you feel like this person is a good representative of your experiences, then this is a great person to ask.
We certainly can appreciate that some people are not able to ask their supervisor. In terms of asking a colleague, we would prefer that one of the two recommendations comes from a superior. It is helpful for us to get their perspective on how you have grown and how you have developed. At times, a superior can be a more objective party versus someone with whom you work day to day.
The additional information section is a great place to make a quick note—we are not looking for a lot of information—on why you have not been able to ask your current supervisor to be a recommender.
Linda Abraham: Now we have a question for Erik. Ryan asks, "Can Erik talk a little bit about the differences between on-campus and off-campus recruiting?"
Erik Mazmanian: There are many facets to discuss with the difference. I think I will touch on two things: timeline and process.
The timeline for on-campus recruiting, I would say, generally occurs a quarter before the timeline for off-campus recruiting. I will give an example to make sense of that.
Generally speaking for on-campus recruiting, the fall is when you are doing a lot of your early discussions and conversations with companies and with alumni. You are getting a better sense of whether you want to work in brand management or consulting or finance; a sense of what the opportunities are out there and how can you build your network in those function or industry areas. Usually, in the winter you move from the informational interviews and discussions to the actual interviewing process. By the end of the winter quarter—coming up on February or March—most folks (not all) who have been focused on the on-campus recruiting process have already locked up jobs or zeroed in on a few choices.
For the off-campus, it is basically a quarter after that. You generally spend the fall and winter learning about the areas you want to focus on, speaking to companies, speaking to alumni. Towards the end of the winter quarter (February or March) you start to move into more of the formal interviewing process which occurs in the March and April timeframe with jobs coming out a little bit later. Just think about the difference in timeline. It is usually a lag of one or two months with the off-campus process.
In terms of the activities, it is a "the grass is always greener" type of thing. The on-campus process is much more structured and much more formalized. The school is, I think, probably better equipped to support you with on-campus recruiting just because more students tend to go in that direction than to off-campus. You have a lot of formalized activities, presentations, and support here in the Career Management Center. The off-campus process is a little more unstructured. I think it is difficult for some folks, but it does give you a lot of flexibility to really zero in on what you want to focus. Often with the off-campus process, you end up getting a job that might be even more in line with what you actually want to do.
I would be happy to talk more specifically about that, but think about it as a difference in timeline lag, and think about it in more of a structured process versus a more unstructured process where you almost create your process and build more informal support mechanisms within the school to help you.
Linda Abraham: That was a great answer. Christopher asks, "Are people who have worked at multiple jobs and companies by choice at a disadvantage to people who have remained at a single company? How much job-hopping is considered too much?"
Jennifer Hayes: I think we want to understand people’s motivations behind a job change whether it was one job change or five. I guess I feel as though it sometimes takes more courage to move onto something as opposed to staying in a job and being a little complacent. We really just want to understand the motivations for the change. Perhaps it was a much better opportunity for you and that’s fine. We certainly do not look down on people who have had multiple changes.
Linda Abraham: Fazulul asks, "Could you please elaborate on Essay #3 which, I know, challenges most Kellogg applicants? What exactly are you looking to find? The question is: "Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would you and your peers select you for admission and what impact would you make as a member of the Kellogg community?"
Jennifer Hayes: This is an often-asked question. What are we looking for? I don’t mean to sound evasive, but there is not one right answer to any of our questions. Really, we want you to be open and genuine and thoughtful and to not provide a cookie-cutter answer. We want you to tell us what is important to you as you interpret the question. I have to say that it is the variety of the answers that makes it an interesting process for all of us. Do your best and interpret it in the way that you see fit.
Linda Abraham: The next question is for Erik and Jennifer may want to fill in. This question is from Sarah and she asks, "Erik, what are some of your best experiences at Kellogg? I would love to hear about the depth of Kellogg’s international program. What are the top recruiting sectors and where do most students get hired?" She could not find this on the Website. Maybe you could post a URL for the profile because I know it is there. Erik, do you want to start?
Erik Mazmanian: I will be happy to take the first question. As far as my best experiences at Kellogg, it is a tough question. At a higher level, I would say—and this might sound a little bit big—it is just being part of the community here at school. I am sure folks have heard about how the Kellogg community is very tight-knit; it is very collaborative. All of that is definitely true. I think you will find this in many other schools, as well, though.
In terms of the friends I have made and the network I have built here, and the fact that this community does feel very tight-knit and I feel I have made connections here that will last for decades, it has been pretty special. This is something I think has been very valuable to me. You hear a lot about it, but it is not until you are actually immersed in the experience that it really resonates and hits home. At a more targeted level, with my career, my career focus has been renewable energy and clean-tech, hopefully on the start-up side. Kellogg may not be known for energy as much as, say, another school, but still, there are many opportunities here. I have been able to carve out a lot of very different energy-related academic or professional experiences here.
For example, I took a class called New Invention Energy last winter. It was basically a cross disciplinary team of a few MBA students, a few law students, and a few students from the McCormick School of Engineering working on advancing an energy technology start-up. How you take an idea and spend ten weeks pushing on different marketing and technical aspects to try to bring that to market was an incredibly valuable experience for me.
Also, the school hosts a multitude of what they call "Energy" or "career treks." For the Energy Trek, we went to the Bay area for three days last spring and visited about nine companies over three days. They talked us through their business model and their strategy; we walked through some R&D centers at some of these companies. We were able to interact and see how these start-ups work on a day-to-day basis and what it would be like to work there. I ended up getting a job at one of the companies we visited. It was not only a great experience, but it was good for my career, as well. Having several different, distinct experiences in my area of focus has been a great experience for me.
Linda Abraham: Jennifer, do you want to add or take the question about the international program or the top recruiting sector?
Jennifer Hayes: We have lots of international programs. First I would mention our partnerships with schools around the world at the executive MBA level. Our full-time students can spend a quarter abroad and this year there are about 150 students going on exchange. This is the highest number we have ever seen, or at least the highest we have seen for a very long time.
We also have classes here such as the International Business major. There is an entire set of classes you can take. Classes combined with trips are very popular here at Kellogg. One is Global Initiative Management which is more of a research/study opportunity. You spend ten weeks learning about that country or region and the last two weeks traveling there. Then there is Global Lab which is typically a course which our second-year students would take. It is an international consulting project which is a fantastic way to work with some top-tier organizations in a country in which you might have an interest.
Lastly, I would mention that we have an incredibly diverse faculty. I think about 40% of our faculty have worked, lived, or studied internationally. They bring a very diverse perspective and also teach in our executive MBA programs around the world. They work with executives at very different levels and bring that knowledge back to the Evanston Kellogg classroom.
Linda Abraham: The third part of her question was about the top recruiting sectors at Kellogg. Where do people find that information? I know you have an employment profile.
Jennifer Hayes: We do. Our 2011 employment statistics will be posted by the end of this year. You could find it on the full-time section of the Website by the end of 2011.
It is no surprise that the big companies and industries which are hiring are consulting, financial services, and marketing. This does not mean that there are no opportunities or students interested in sectors like healthcare or technology or energy, for example.
Erik talked a little bit about on-campus versus off-campus recruiting. I think one of the great strengths of Kellogg is the diversity of companies which come to hire and in which students are interested. Many of our students are going out on treks over the winter break and many of them happened over our Thanksgiving holiday this past week. Students are saying, "Hey, we want to go meet and network with really strong companies that may not be coming on campus to visit." There are about 40 treks which are really student-driven. This is a fantastic way to meet and network with people in the industry and often it turns into job opportunities.
Linda Abraham: We have a question from Diane. She asks, "I read about the SEEK program at Kellogg on your Website. I am curious as to what kinds of specializations you offer in the non-profit sector. Could you please expand on that a bit? Thanks."
Jennifer, maybe you could take that question in terms of the overall not-for-profit. Maybe Erik could offer comments from the student perspective.
Jennifer Hayes: There is a lot going on in terms of social enterprise at Kellogg. The major here is SEEK (Social Enterprise at Kellogg). The student community is really called Net Impact. This is the organization here on campus which is in charge of so many community activities.
Actually, 94% of the Kellogg students are involved in Net Impact. It is huge, and we just won the Chapter of the Year award. Net Impact is an organization that is on most business world campuses and we are very proud to receive that award.
We had our 12th Innovating Social Change conference. This is something that is very important to Kellogg and has been for a long time. We had 708 volunteers participate in community volunteer work over the past year. There are academic ways to do experiential learning with courses like Board Fellows where you sit on the board of a non-profit for an entire year and then take a class with this cohort of students on board governance.
There are umpteen club activities like MBI, which is a local consulting project in which a lot of first-year students participate. There are competitions all around the country in which many of our Kellogg students are winning.
That is a quick summary of some of the highlights.
Linda Abraham: That is pretty good. Laura asks a question about essays: "I am already writing my essays and I would like to know if, in essay number two, we have to base our response on things that are already in other parts of the application? Can we incorporate new details and things that were probably not mentioned in the rest of the essays and CV?"
Jennifer Hayes: That is a good question. We feel there is limited information which you can give us in the essays, so we would prefer to receive new information and not necessarily have you repeat and restate things you have already stated.
Linda Abraham: What about going into greater depth?
Jennifer Hayes: I think you may mention in passing a leadership experience somewhere into which you might want to dive with more detail in an essay. That would certainly be appropriate.
Linda Abraham: Knute asks, "What is the biggest misconception out there about Kellogg and what is the one thing you wish every prospective applicant knew about the Kellogg MBA program?" Erik, would you take this one?
Erik Mazmanian: I would say hands down that the biggest misconception is that Kellogg is "exclusively or primarily a marketing school." That is not to shy away from the fact that we have a tremendous marketing program and there are many folks that pursue careers in strategic marketing and brand management in some of the world’s best companies.
I remember being a little bit concerned that my focus was not going to be in marketing. It was going to be much more on the industry side and in energy. I wondered if there were too many resources or a direction going towards marketing in the school. I found that to be a complete myth. Not only is there a tremendous marketing department, there is also a great finance department, a great management and strategy department. Jennifer just mentioned the Social Enterprise at Kellogg which I think is a truly differentiated department compared to many other top schools.
I would say that if you are interested in a career in marketing, this is a great place to go. If you are not interested in a career in marketing, I would not at all make that a deal-breaker in terms of your decision about coming to Kellogg. There are many great functional and industry specializations and areas here at the school. That is my answer with regard to debunking a myth. I would like to tie that answer with the answer to the second question. I think Kellogg has a traditional reputation with being very strong in marketing and general management and this is very true. However, it is almost, if not equally, as strong in several other disciplines. I encourage prospective students to take that at face value and to look at all the different career options offered at the school. They are strong, as well.
Linda Abraham: Jessica asks, "Will I be penalized if I have not been able to come to campus prior to submitting my application at an interview?"
Jennifer Hayes: It absolutely will not. We certainly encourage people to come to campus. They have a great opportunity to meet students, to sit in on a class, and to really see if this is the right place for them. However, we are not tracking whether or not you came to campus or evaluating that in your application at all.
We want people to come at some point in time. If the time to visit is after you have gained acceptance, and coming to one of our Admitted Students weekends is the only time you can visit, it is absolutely fine.
Linda Abraham: I am just curious with regard to the applicants who are here. Prior to hearing Jennifer’s answer, how many of you thought that if you did not visit the campus, you would somehow be penalized in the admissions process, that it would hamper your evaluation? Did you feel that a visit was mandatory? It is about 20%.
Jennifer Hayes: I am surprised.
Linda Abraham: I am glad you were able to dispel that particular rumor.
Jennifer Hayes: Visits are valuable, but it is really for the individual. It is the same thing for any of our off-campus events. We certainly track whether or not people attended, but it is not used in any way in the evaluation.
Linda Abraham: The next question is for Erik. Anthony asks, "First, thank you to everyone for making the time this morning. Erik, my question is for you. What other programs were you considering and what compelled you to choose Kellogg over these other programs?"
Erik Mazmanian: I will say, generally speaking, that I was looking at a couple of other programs in the top five or the top seven written up in the U.S. News and World Report. There was one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast. I will leave it at that.
In terms of why I chose Kellogg, I would separate it in terms of why to choose any school in terms of career and fit. With regard to career, do you feel this school can prepare you for your professional aspirations to meet those aspirations? On the fit side, do the community and what the school stands for fall in line with your views, your perspective, your disposition, and so forth?
For me, I came in as a career-switcher, so I had to be confident that Kellogg had the resources to help me get from consulting into energy. I felt confident that the opportunities provided in terms of some of the things I just mentioned with classes, the treks, and Kellogg’s global brand, if I wanted to do energy in the West Coast or if I wanted to do energy in China, the network is strong enough and global enough to help me get there.
This was important. The more important part for me, though, was fit. I felt that a couple of the other schools I applied to would probably be (relatively-speaking) equally able to help me on the career side. However, for me the fit side is what really stood out. I thought that the school and the community—after coming on campus and participating in some of the prospective activities—really felt like home. It felt like someplace where I could see myself and where I could make long-lasting friends and so on. I needed to see that the career side was there, but the fit side was what put it over the edge in terms of choosing the school.
Linda Abraham: Deovrat asks, "I have gone through a lot of profiles of Indians at Kellogg and a majority of them seem to have worked for a ‘big name.’ Is it a disadvantage not to have worked for famous firms? (I would call them blue-chip firms.) What would we do or showcase to mitigate that?"
Jennifer Hayes: I would say that a lot of people—not just folks from India—have that same question and same concern. Diversity of career experience is so important to us in admissions and it is important to our students to have very diverse perspectives in teams and groups in class.
The answer is absolutely not. We are not only looking for big name companies and blue-chip companies. We might understand different career paths and roles if we see them more frequently from some bigger companies. If you are from a small organization, you might have to do a little more work in your essays and in your interview in helping us to understand the organizational structure or your career path, in particular. Other than our lack of information about the organization, I am not sure you have to do anything differently to tell us about your progress and your success.
Linda Abraham: Alay asks, "Hello, I am interested in the MMM program. After connecting with students and a few alums, I understand that MMM takes more students with higher work experience and GMAT scores. Is this true?" He writes that he comes from a motor-racing background and he has three years and nine months of experience: "Could you tell us a little about the MMM and also answer my question?"
Jennifer Hayes: The MMM program is, in brief, a two-year degree. You get both your MBA and your Masters of Engineering Management. It is a partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering.
This is a fantastic, fantastic program for people with an interest in operations, in design, and, of course, in management on the MBA side of things. It is not about the work experience you have had. It is really about the interest you have, an interest in this sort of intersection of those three things I just mentioned.
Are we looking for people with more experience and higher GMATs for that program? I would say absolutely not. I think an important thing to remember is that our statistics are what the class ended up looking like. Of the people who accepted our offer, that is the class profile. It is certainly not indicative of exactly what we are going after. We want people with strong work experience, but it does not mean they have to have a certain number of three, five, seven, or whatever.
It is the same thing on the GMAT. We are looking for academic excellence across the board. I would say for the MMM program, in particular, there are some courses that are slightly more quantitatively challenging on the McCormick Engineering side of things. You would not want to be at Northwestern or Kellogg if you did not have quantitative strengths. However, it is even more important for you to show evidence of that strength if you are applying to the MMM program.
Linda Abraham: Matthew says, "I have a question regarding the interview process. I live in Hawaii and will have an unpredictable schedule which might provide me with a challenge to exact on-campus interviews. Is there any disadvantage to doing an off-campus interview or being told I have a waver just being in the area without an alumnus?"
Jennifer Hayes: Well, I would love to be in Hawaii, so I am happy to hop on a plane and come on out and interview you. Our interview process is different, so let me back up just a little bit for those of you who might not be aware.
Kellogg asks all of our applicants to request the interview, and you have a choice to request the on-campus or off-campus interview. We really do not have a preference. Each year, somewhere between 60% and 70% of all the interviews are conducted off campus, largely by our alumni. It is up to you to really decide whether you have the resources or the time to make it to campus. Many of you don’t, so you are not at a disadvantage by choosing the off-campus interview. I don’t know whether we have alumni or not in Hawaii, but certainly if we did we would match you with an alum, and you would conduct that interview when the two of you could find a time to do that. If you did receive an interview waiver, that is not going to negatively impact your candidacy or your chances for gaining admission to Kellogg.
There are people who are all over the world or who are military professionals who are not able to be in a certain specific place at a specific time to do the interview. This is a part of our process for us to waive interviews, move through the review of the application, and be able to get you a decision on time. What happens very frequently is that those candidates who’ve been waived the interview at the outset would be requested to do a phone interview. The phone interview is not something that a candidate can request themselves. However, if we felt that a conversation and that dialog would make a material impact in the decision that was going to be released, we would reach out to you to schedule a time for a phone interview; and they’re done liberally.
We want to have the conversations with people as often as possible. You being in Hawaii certainly adds diversity to the class, so please don’t worry about not being able to come on campus for that interview.
Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. I think this question is for both of you. Erik, maybe you want to start, and then Jennifer. Adit asks, "What are some of the resources available for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in both the United States and global economies?" Erik, do you want to start with that one? Then Jennifer, maybe you can fill in.
Erik Mazmanian: Sure. I’ll touch on three different points in terms of entrepreneurship. The first is from a purely academic perspective, and this is something that I’m actually pursuing as a major. The school has an Entrepreneurship & Innovation major, which is something I don’t have the numbers to back up but I think is a major that has increased in significance to the school as well as the number of students that are choosing to pursue that major path.
It’s a number of courses around how you launch a new venture from a financing perspective, from a go-to-market or strategy perspective. It touches on a lot of different kinds of key points, almost a roadmap or a rubric for how you launch a business or maybe how you join a business that is five people or ten people deep, and how you really grow and scale it. The classwork there – and that’s something that I’m involved in right now from an academic perspective – has been really, really interesting.
The second piece is the Levy Center for Entrepreneurship here. It’s something that I’ve been tangentially involved with. They provide kind of an umbrella of entrepreneurship resources for the school, one of which – and I think Jennifer can probably speak to it better than I – is KEIP, which is the Entrepreneurship in-residence program. That’s for students who know they want to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and know they want to work for a startup, usually in the Chicago area. It’s kind of a matching process where the school matches startups in the area with students. They conduct an informal interview process, and if the fit is right, then the student works for the summer. I think that Kellogg helps a little bit financially with the compensation there. It’s for students who are very interested in pursuing an entrepreneurship career but maybe want to get a little bit of money, as opposed to working for free, which is often what happens as an internship perspective. The KEIP program is terrific there.
The last piece is what I mentioned about 20 minutes ago with the NUvention: Energy Course and the Cross-Disciplinary Course working on advancing an early-stage energy technology. That’s kind of a Northwestern-run class experience. There are also three different NUvention classes. One is in Medical. For two quarters you work on bringing an early-stage medical device or other type of healthcare technology to market.
There’s a two-quarter Web course, where you basically design a new kind of software, Web application, or business, and then you launch that business in the second quarter and track your results. Sometimes that actually turns into students starting their own companies after school.
The last one is a new one called Innovate for Impact. It’s aligned with the SEEK major that Jennifer mentioned, the Social Enterprise Venture. I think you end up going to a host country, either in Africa, China, India, or one of several other countries. This gets to the international piece. You do some field work for a couple of weeks, I think, over Spring Break, and use that to incorporate that into your business you’re trying to launch as well.
So, I think from a multitude of perspectives, entrepreneurship is becoming a bigger piece of the Kellogg puzzle, and I think it’s something that a lot of students are getting really excited about. I’ll turn it over to Jennifer to add to that.
Jennifer Hayes: Erik did a really nice job of highlighting some great things that are going on here. I would say that in addition to the academic courses in the major, there are a couple of labs – Start-Up Lab, Build-It Lab, and Launch-It Lab – which really help students through the evolution of business ideas.
You’re developing an idea and forming your team with Start-Up Lab. With Build-It Lab, if you have a team and you have an idea, you really do a deep dive for competency building with professors. Then in Launch-It Lab, it’s how you create it and really get to acquiring your first customer.
Of the students that majored in Entrepreneurship, 85% of our alumni have actually started their own businesses within five years. Of all of our Kellogg alumni, 25% have started their own businesses. So, it’s not an uncommon or unheard of thing here at Kellogg, and it’s very important to the school.
Linda Abraham: Wonderful. Thank you. We’re getting quite a few questions about the one-year full-time MBA program. Rubab specifically asks, "Can you talk about the one-year full-time MBA program? How is it different from the two-year program? How does recruiting work in this program?"
Jennifer Hayes: I actually manage the one-year MBA program here, so you’re talking to the right person.
Linda Abraham: Yeah, really!
Jennifer Hayes: The one-year MBA program is very different from the two-year in that it’s four quarters straight through. The Cohort starts in June and graduates the following June. The core courses are not completed while at Kellogg, like the two-year program. They’re actually required to be completed before starting.
It’s typical that it’s a Business or Economics undergraduate student that has completed the coursework at their university who really is looking for career enhancement. They want to come to Kellogg for very specific academic reasons, build their network, and be involved in the same way a two-year student would in all the community activities. Then they want to return to a very similar career path or maybe even the same job. So, we certainly do see a lot of people that are sponsored by their company who look to a one-year MBA program.
What’s really very fundamentally different is the coursework, which I mentioned, but also that you’re not going to need the summer internship in order to make a career change. If you are a consultant and you want to be a brand manager, or you’re a teacher and you want to be a consultant, probably the two-year program is going to be a better fit for you to really give you that immersive internship experience and allow for more of a dramatic career change.
We certainly see a high representation of folks from consulting, from financial services – banking and private equity – or family businesses. People that are sponsored are really very interested in returning back to that same industry or that company. I’m happy to answer any other questions about that program as well.
Linda Abraham: Maybe also when we get to the end, we’ll give an e-mail address that people can use. Obviously if you have more questions specifically on that program, you can direct them to that e-mail address too. This is for Jennifer. Anthony asks, "What are the most common pitfalls of prospective students in the application process, and how would you advise candidates to best avoid them?"
Jennifer Hayes: Very good question. I’ve been at Kellogg for eight years now, so I’ve seen a lot of applications, and I’ve seen a lot of things that aren’t in the best interest of the applicant.
I do think that the biggest pitfall is that people do their research on Kellogg, they understand what’s important to us as an institution, and then they frame their experiences, their accomplishments, and the things that are important to them around that. Those are things that are important to us and those are things that you will experience if you’re here. However, you don’t necessarily have to frame your experience around that. We really want to understand what has motivated you, what’s been valuable to you, and what’s been most important to you in your life and in your career.
I would really encourage people to set aside that they’re applying to Kellogg and who we stand for as an institution, and really just think internally; really reflect on themselves when they’re starting to answer the application questions. You will look more genuine and more authentic. If you’re really talking about yourself, your values, and your motivations, you will look more diverse and unique as an applicant, instead of trying to do maybe what everyone else is doing by just reviewing the Website and telling us those are important to you.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. I also want to mention that we’re getting a lot of thank-yous from people who posed questions. I’m not repeating every single one, but just to let you know. I want to thank the applicants who are here because you really are posting great, great questions.
Here’s a question from Amanda. This is for Jennifer. "Hello. My husband will be moving with me when I start an MBA program. Can you talk a bit about the support or engagement for spouses of Kellogg students?"
Jennifer Hayes: We call spouses and significant others "JVs" or "Joint Ventures" here at Kellogg. It’s kind of a silly name, but it is a fantastic community. I think, for the most part, Kellogg actually wouldn’t even need this club. Anyone coming with the student is so welcomed into the community. They can go on a lot of the trips. There are pre-orientation trips that we call "Quest" to start to get to know the students in the same way that their spouse or significant other would as a student. They can go on the Global Initiatives and Management trips and classes, and in some cases, can actually sit in on Kellogg classes and try to experience what the student is experiencing on a day-to-day basis.
I think the great thing about Joint Ventures is that when the students start here, it is a very immersive experience. For three weeks you’re in orientation, and maybe you as the joint venture don’t know anything about Evanston or maybe even the United States, for that matter. Joint Ventures really provides a group of people who are going through the same thing and gives you a great foundation and network to get to know people and get to the know the city and the school.
They can be very valuable in helping people navigate a job search and getting connected to companies and organizations within the Chicago community. It’s a great place to be as a significant other just because of the institutional support that Kellogg provides.
Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. This one is for Erik, and it’s from Puneet and he asks "Could you summarize the Kellogg culture in a few brief sentences?"
Erik Mazmanian: That sounds like an interview question. First and foremost I would say it’s collaborative; not small-c collaborative but capital-C. I think that that comes out in the fact that everything from the clubs, from all of the conferences that we run and everything, is done as a leadership and as a group of students. They’re focused around something that they deeply care about.
That also transcends into the classroom where every single class has a group or a collaboration component to it. That’s part of what you’re graded on. (By the way, this is many more than three sentences.) Every single dimension of the school has a collaborative element to it.
I think the other part – and I’ll just end after the second one – is that the student profile, the typical Kellogg student, is in my opinion so incredibly well-rounded. I don’t necessarily mean from a diversity perspective, that they come from a different country or bring a different experience. I just mean from a disposition perspective.
Linda Abraham: You mean each individual is well-rounded?
Erik Mazmanian: Each individual is well-rounded in the typical kind of student profile. Obviously they’re very smart and they’re very driven, but they’re also very modest, humble, and thoughtful. I think just the well-rounded persona of students here has impressed me.
When you bring 1,200 students that bring that same kind of well-rounded profile, then I think you’ve got a pretty strong culture that values a lot of different things; not just getting the best job and getting ahead for yourself, but moving forward where everybody is working to help each other from a career perspective as well as just from a personal and social perspective.
Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. Next question is for Jennifer. Grace asks, "Can you talk about the Healthcare program at Kellogg and how many students are enrolled in it each year?"
Jennifer Hayes: That’s the Health Enterprise Management Program here. I don’t actually know the exact number of students, but I do know the strength of the program. The more students that are involved the more companies that are attracted to Kellogg to recruit, and that number has really grown over the eight years that I’ve been here.
You could look at Health Enterprise Management in two ways. You can look at it from the healthcare administration side and the biotechnology-pharma side, and there are different faculty members that have expertise in that area.
The one really great part about our healthcare program is that you can come to Kellogg and you can major in Health Enterprise Management and a multitude of other majors. We’re not just tracking you in this one track where you’re with this small cohort of students and really doing all things healthcare-related. It is very important that you have the specialized knowledge, this group of faculty members to have access to you, cutting-edge research to have access to you, and certainly the connection with Northwestern Medical Center downtown is very important. However, you need to have a well-balanced education and understand marketing, strategy, and operations in order for you to be effective in this field.
So being at Kellogg allows you to major in two, three, or four areas, and really build out a well-rounded specialization so that you’re more competitive in the recruitment process.
Linda Abraham: Great. Daniel asks, "I’m curious how difficult it is to join classes outside of our focus. For instance, I would like to take General Management courses as well as entrepreneurial courses, but do not wish to focus on either."
Jennifer Hayes: I can answer that one. Students really come to Kellogg and say, "I’m going to take the classes that are most interesting to me."
You do not have to track within a certain major or area. Every student does have to graduate with one major or professional program, and that’s really a small set of three, four, or five classes in order to get that major. However, there are over 200 electives, and students here, over one or two years, have access to any number of those over 20 majors and professional programs, so it’s very easy to take a smattering of elective courses. You even can take courses outside of Kellogg at other graduate programs at Northwestern.
Linda Abraham: How many can you take outside of Northwestern? We are getting some related questions to that.
Jennifer Hayes: You can take one a quarter.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. One last question for Erik: "With regard to experiential learning opportunities via lab courses, could you describe the amount and kind of interactions students typically have with companies in lab courses?"
Erik Mazmanian: Sure. I’ll channel that question through my own experience. Last spring, I took a lab course called Sustainability Lab. This is a lot of what the lab looks like from a top-down perspective, where you’re charged with almost a ten-week consulting project for a company. It could be a multinational corporation, it could be a startup, or it could be a non-profit, and you have a bit of a project scope that the client almost defines for you. Then the team of five or six students works against that scope.
In this Sustainability Lab class I took, it was actually an interesting project. It was for a smart grid startup out of Colorado. They were actually interested in getting into the local Illinois market and needed help on the regulatory and policy landscape here.
You basically spend the first couple of weeks learning a little bit more about the company and talking to the client, I’d say, twice a week. Then after that you have weekly check-ins with the client where you provide your progress status updates. They might provide you with helpful people to interview within the company to learn a little bit more.
What I liked about it and what I think I like about all these lab courses is that it feels like a real-life consulting project where you don’t just check it in the beginning and check in at the end. There’s commitment from both sides, where the company has committed a point person to connect with the group once a week, twice a week, or even as needed to almost chart progress together.
We ended up presenting to them at Week 6 our interim findings, and then ended up presenting to the leadership team on Week 10 as part of our final presentation. I think that’s pretty indicative of what the lab experience is like here at school. For me it was very helpful in helping me understand that smart grid space and being able to feel like we really had an impact on the client’s outcomes.
Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. At this point I want to bring the Q&A to a close. Thanks again, all, for participating today. Special thanks to Jennifer for joining us and to Erik also. You’ve both provided fantastic answers for the great questions that the applicants have posed. If you have additional questions for Jennifer or Erik, please e-mail them to
We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. Coming up next:
Once more, thank you all for joining us today. It’s been an excellent session. Thank you, participants, for your questions, and Erik and Jennifer for your answers. Best of luck with your applications.
Jennifer Hayes: Thank you.Continue exploring our free resources with our MBA Admissions 101 pages