My life, my blog, and B-school somewhere inbetween

A catalog of one reapplicant's journey towards an MBA in 2008

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Inside Scoop

Yes, I have returned. It has been much longer than I thought, but that's what b-school will do to you! To all those loyal readers who still have me on RSS-feed as well as to all those who forgot to take me off, let it be known that I will blog again. I completely understand how all the bloggers of legendary status stopped blogging. As an applicant it seemed unfathomable, but as a student I can't understand how people have time to even write a blog! So, yes, b-school is as busy as people say it is. I have managed to find time now because I'm procrastinating. But, I'm sure you'd rather hear about something else...

So, what is Kellogg really like? The answer- pretty much awesome. I know, everyone who goes to b-school says it's awesome. But every b-school is not. I have yet to meet anyone at Kellogg who is not thrilled with their experience thus far (including 2nd years). On the other hand, I have heard about significant others at other b-schools who are less than satisfied. I am fairly confident I could not have gone to a more fun b-school.

The Good

1) KWEST. KWEST is amazing. You go on a trip with 20-25 other of your fellow students (5 of them are 2nd year trip leaders) to some crazy location, and then you basically just party with them. No discussion of hometown, work experience, or b-school is allowed. You're just there to meet some people on a real level. The people in your KWEST trip become some of your tightest friends at Kellogg. We hang out all the time too. Out of the 20-25 people, I'd say I'll probably keep in touch with 3/4 of them for the rest of my life, and at least 1/2 of them I'll be tight with for a long time to come. That's how close you get. And then aside from the people, it's just a hell of a lot of fun! Activities by day, parties by night, it just never stops. Every year there's one "mystery trip" where the students have no idea where it's going- top secret. This year the mystery trip was to Dubai. No joke. How awesome is that?!

2) CIM. CIM is Kellogg's orientation program. We don't do any of that trip to the woods to bond stuff. It's basically just half a week of getting to know everyone in your section through activities like cheering competitions, talent shows, olympics, scav hunts, etc., then another half to full week of actual orientation stuff like how does the career center work, how do I add/drop classes, etc., and then you take your first class with your section for the rest of CIM. The class is on Leading Organizations. Pretty good class depending on the teacher.

3) People. The people here at Kellogg are really cool. Of course there's the typical "OMG, all my classmates have done such amazing things before they came here" stuff, but aside from that the people are genuinely people I'd want to hang out with. There's always talk of the kid in b-school that everyone is like "How the f- did that kid get in? He's so annoying and says such stupid comments in class. He's such a suck-up. Everyone hates him." In Kellogg, I have yet to see anyone even close to that. No one is pompous. People are not super competitive. Hell, people aren't even really competitive at all (in class)! No one has been like "Well I worked at GOLDMAN SACHS" or anything like it. I have yet to even be asked what my GMAT was! People are just nice here. They would much rather help someone out than win. I've never seen so many people volunteer to help in various circumstances before. Sure, there are a few people here I don't like, but they're not so bad that I dislike them. I don't mind if they're around, but I wouldn't make an effort to hang out with them. Honestly, I can only think of maybe five people like that though. And I've met at least 100. Maybe it's just a one-time thing with my class, but I doubt it. B-school matriculation is a self-selecting process. Cool people are just naturally drawn to Kellogg...

4) Ski Trip. There's a ski trip evey year the week after finals in December. We're going to Vail. 700 people are going. Sponsorship. VIP front row passes to the Counting Crows concert. Less than $1000 including airfare for the week with 4 days of lift tickets and lots of free booze at the sponsored parties every day and night. We're staying in condo-suites with no more than 2 to a room. It's ridiculous. I know. That's just how we roll.

5) Parties. It feels like everyone hangs out. Tuesday night and the weekend are huge. There are so many theme-parties to go to. They even get sponsored by the school. We hang out in Evanston a lot, but I've been down to Chicago like two out of every three weeks since I've been here. Great times.

6) Recruiting. Recruiting at this school is pretty easy. People are not super competitive, so you don't need to be elbowing anyone to get into a circle to talk to a company rep. All the big employers come to campus. The job market is great so there's no issue in terms of getting a job. You go to Kellogg- they just assume you're more personable than the rest. If you can demonstrate some quant, you are like a superstar. It's very easy to stand out here in the Finance industry if you have some experience. Very few do.

7) Northwestern University. It's such a beautiful campus when it's nice out, I can't begin to tell you. And Evanston is not your typical suburb. It's got all the stuff you'd want in a suburb (lots of green), but it has a "downtown" area where most Kellogg students live which has the stores you want (Panera, Chipotle, Borders, Cinema, Urban Outfitters, etc.) and high-rise apartment buildings you might prefer to live in. And Chicago is only 30 minutes away...

7) I could go on, but I don't need to.

The Bad

1) CIM. CIM is great, but there are bad parts to it. All the events and stuff make you feel like you're in summer camp. Kind of lame, but everyone is doing it so you all kind of just shrug it off and talk about it over a beer that night. The worst part of CIM though is that they pack in way too much. The first weekend we only had Sunday off. The second weekend we had no day off. Too much. It would've been better if they just started earlier and didn't try to cram so much in. Since this is Kellogg, if the students complain they have the ability to change it for next year. We'll see what happens...

2) Technology. Our technology sucks. Plain and simple. The hardest part of b-school is coordinating people's schedules because everyone is busy with different activities, but there's always a group project to work on for class. We do not have an Outlook exchange server, thus we can't schedule a meeting looking at everyone's availability. It's a giant pain in the ass. There are these excel sheets people send around that group members fill in to see when will work. Lame. We have to use an entirely different program that has mediocre interface to book a room too. Very annoying.

3) Incest. You pretty much only hang out with your fellow Kellogg students. It's very incestuous. I'm sure it's going to bother me by winter or spring quarter. Probably like this at every b-school though...

4) Cold. It's cold. Enough said.

5) Recruiting. Sure, it's easy to get a job. But this school is known for Marketing, Consulting, and Brand Management. Finance, not so much. Not every bank comes here for all their divisions. It would be nice if they did, but I guess the fact that I only have 20-30 kids to compete against instead of 100 makes up for it. I'm told it's not a big deal to reach out to an Alumnus at a bank and ask for some help getting access to their recruiting though. I'll let you know how that goes. Anyway, what is lacking though is training. There are interview prep classes offered by the banking club, but they only have one on a given topic and they kind of occur over an extended period of time. It's not talked about all the time the way it is at the GSB. I'm ok because I know a lot about company presentation etiquette from my friends at the GSB, but if I didn't it would not be good. GSB has this stuff down to a science. Kellogg kids are lost to a good extent on this one. We're not all about that kind of competition.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

M-B-What?

Been a while, thought I'd drop in on the MBA blogging community. Travels and all, you know. No time to sit for hours at a computer. And I'm not good like MBAJ or Marina who'd put up a whole bunch of pictures and talk all about their trips, etc. Sorry. Anyway, thought I'd mention that in the last 6 weeks that I've been traveling, I've only met one person who'd even heard of an MBA. And I've met a LOT of people. Granted, most are backpackers who basically just work for a couple years in random jobs to save for traveling, but still, I thought they might have heard of it like back home. The one guy who did know of it worked in the finance department of a telecom, and I was trying to sell him on the merits of the MBA for what he wanted to do after traveling. He, and just about everyone else, just couldn't get over the cost. Everyone I've met can't fathom paying $120,000 for four years tuition for undergrad, let alone and additional $120K for an MBA! Nobody pays for undergrad in Europe, it seems. Or if they do it's a couple thousand. A bunch of these people take out like $10K in loans so they can go traveling. And that's all the debt they have. Why can't we have this kind of system?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Where are you?

So, I've been traveling now for like two weeks and have been to four places so far, and I have yet to meet ANY backpackers even remotely related to business or b-school. I met one guy in Auckland who was staying at the hostel as part of a holiday when he came to New Zealand for business, but that's it! Come on people, if you're already in, what are you doing now? Get out there are see the world! I've only met like five Americans total, and they were all college aged. There are SO many Brits and Germans. I guess we Americans have got to get out more...

Oh, and to the person who asked, I booked KWEST when I was in New Zealand. Convenient because it was 5pm there when it was midnight in Chicago :).

Sunday, April 30, 2006

MIA

I've been MIA lately. I know. And it looks like I'll be MIA for a while. To summarize, I quit my job, moved out of my apartment, and am now backpacking around the world. Only been at it a couple days, but it's been awesome. I highly recommend to anyone considering doing something like it before school starts. I'll be traveling for about 3.5 months, and compared to the other travelers I've met along the way, that's really short! Anyway, I'll post about b-school stuff as it comes up during my travels, but basically there will not be a whole lot going up on the blog for a while. I fully intend to blog the real deal at Kellogg this fall though, so don't worry, Redwolf is not leaving you. This is not "goodbye", but "til we meet again".

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Re: Anonymous

In response to my last post, the Anonymous poster which offended MBA Jackass so much (I think it's him) left this comment-


Since you made some sense in your last paragraph, I will NOT say "Have fun at your cult." It's always important to think for yourself.

And for what down to earth people (and you made note of this) think of the spaghetti sticks and marshmallows read "Year One" by Robert Reid. I'm paraphrasing here, but once the protagonist learns that he has to do something like that at HBS, he says "I'm tired of this Northwestern crap." I thought that was pretty funny.



Well, Anonymous, if I still cared what people had to say about me I might say something like "thanks for not labeling me a cultist", but, sorry, I don't, so I won't. I will comment on your belief in thinking for oneself though because I think it is a relavant topic. My undergraduate education was founded on this principle in comination with questioning all of one's assumptions and preconceived notions. That will always be a part of my thought process. And while I do believe most people do not know how to do this and are easily influenced, just because Kellogg has a very strong sense of "school spirit" does not logically mean students do not think for themselves. It might very well be the case that the school is so good that the overwhelming majority of the people really like it. My experiences there and hanging out with future classmates have not contradicted this possibility. And I did meet a 1st year who was not so "rah rah" at DAK. He wasn't into the "party" scene so much, but he still liked the school and didn't seem to dislike the people. Upon entry to DAK I did think the first years were a bit nutty with their passion for the school. I was expecting this as I had heard so much about it beforehand. While it was weird to have this passion thrust upon me before I had actually experienced what all the hype was about, by the end of DAK I did not think them so nutty anymore. They were just having a really good time at Kellogg and wanted to share it with others. These "sharing" and "really friendly" things were just foreign to my New York lifestyle ;-).

But, while I would not characterize the atmosphere as "cultish" yet, I have not completely ruled out this possibility either. I have not gone through enough of the academics to draw any strong conclusions. B-school socialization in general is not typically intellectual, so to draw conclusions about our topic solely from this area of the Kellogg experience would be shortsighted. The classroom is where I would expect to find individual thinking. Kellogg's focus on teamwork and collaboration might hinder this and create "one mind", and if it does then the school will get a "re-education facility" label from me. So, the possibility is out there, but, Anonymous, I'm pretty sure you do not have enough evidence to justify such a claim. I would suggest you "think" a bit more before you speak.

And on your last comment, if I were to believe in the stereotypes of arrogance and egotism at HBS, should I be surprised that the HBS student thought building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows was "stupid" or "beneath him" or "Northwestern"? I enjoyed it as a problem solving exercise and the opportunity to try to construct something (I liked playing with Legos a lot as a kid). It is the narrow minded thinker who does not give something different a fair chance...

Oh, and how you could label Kellogg people "cultish" and HBS people "down to earth" on a relative scale is beyond me.

Comments?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

DAK- The Long Version

Ok, a week has past since DAK. The grieving process is nearly over and I think I'm ready to talk about it. I've come to terms with the whole situation and am willing to accept it. DAK is over. I have to go back to my ordinary life until August. Sigh.

DAK was awesome. From start to finish, I had nothing but a good time. Met some really cool people, got all my questions on Kellogg answered, and even took care of housing for the next two years! Here's a not so brief rundown of events-

Thursday

Arrive around 2:30pm. Call one of the Evanston cabbies for a flat rate lift from the airport to Evanston. Once we cross the border into Evanston, his meter mysteriously turns on. I'm like, "WTF?" He says something in broken english about this being "his business", to which I reply, "it's a flat rate, $28 is all I'm paying." About five minutes later he pushes a button and the meter turns off. When he drops me off, he says something like, "The meter went on by accident. It must have gone on when I was calling in about another fare. You understand, right?" Yeah, I understood you tried to rip me off, dipshit. But I digress. I had just arrived at the lovely McManus house, Kellogg's dorm. I was staying with a student host, but I had no idea it was at the dorm. I call my host to let him know I'm there and to let me in, but he doesn't pick up. Uh oh. Combined with the cab incident, this is not the way I wanted the weekend to start out.

Eventually I get in touch with him, blah, blah, shows me around, etc. He says something like, "People always talk shit about McManus being a dorm, but it's really not. It's an apartment building." Yeah... it's a dorm. My dorm in undergrad had a living (common) room with a kitchen and a bedroom or two attached to it. That's all McManus was. When the chairs are those ones with the red or blue fabric and the wooden arms that go all the way around to connect to the legs, it's a dorm. So, I knew I was definitely not going to live in McManus.

After the meet and greet with the host, met a bunch of 2nd years who were making their soon to be vacated apartments available for showing. Saw three of them, then met my college buddy in Wicker Park for dinner and drinks. Good times. Got back around midnight and learned that I should budget 45-60 minutes if I want to take the purple line to downtown, door-to-door.


Friday

Got up in time to get the last scraps of breakfast at DAK. Followed my "section" into the auditorium for the obligatory 1 hour welcome. Not bad. The director of admissions got up and read little one-line snippets from around 40-50 applicants' essays to tell us about "who are classmates are." I was a bit surprised when I heard a line that sounded vaguely familiar... After all that, went to an icebreaker thing with our section where we had to learn about four people sitting next to us. Whatever. Typical b-school crap. Anyway, it was good to at least meet a bunch of people and hear about the different types of backgrounds we had. After this, we had some more auditorium shit. Topic: Academics. I didn't care. Instead, I ditched to go meet up with this guy my buddy at the GSB knew from his summer associate class at XYZ bank and talk to him about Sales and Trading recruiting at Kellogg. As you all know, Kellogg is not known for its finance program the way Chicago or Wharton are. So, recruiting was obviously a concern for me. If I wanted to be an I-banker, I knew it would be fine. Kellogg has plenty of that. But S&T is another story. I had heard mixed things, so I wanted to hear it from someone who actually went through it. Long story short, he dismissed all my concerns and, as an added bonus, basically told me that with my background I would easily stand out amongst everyone else. After I told my buddy at the GSB all the details, he was like "Dude, go there." So, it was around that moment I for the most part decided to go to Kellogg. But I was cautious enough to hold off until after I saw some of the partying I had heard so much about.

Next had a lunch with professors talking about a specific track- finance, consulting, marketing, etc. and the relevant coursework and academics. Then we had the next section teambuilding exercise where we split up and built towers out of spaghetti sticks and marshmallows. Much harder than you'd think. I learned that my team worked better when there was no clear leadership and delegation of roles. The first time around we all had a general idea of what we were trying to do and so people just did the parts they saw needed work. The second time when we delegated, things were not as smooth and more chaotic. Atypical b-school lesson. I realized that the people involved needed to be fairly smart in order for the first method to work under such time pressure, so at least I felt more confident about my future classmates. Then we had a mini-class, which was about 1 hr with two professors doing an example of what a class at Kellogg is like. Probably had their best profs out for this part, and it showed. Classes were fun and interesting (I know, crazy right?). Then I ditched the next thing to take a nap. Breakfast was early and I went to bed late. Redwolf does not function well without sleep. Got about 30 min of rest in, and went down to "TG". TG is Kellogg's Friday drinkfest in the main building. Lasts about an hour or two, they have kegs and some good bottled beer, and it's free! GSB has something similar called "Liquidity Preference". I'm sure all the b-schools do. They also had the KWEST fair then, so I got to learn about the different weeklong trips incoming Kellogg students can go on the week before they start. There are some really cool destinations. Talked to some people I knew from NY, then went with a new section to have dinner at a local Evanston restaurant. We went to one of the bars. Food... not so good. But, it had the advantage of being the bar where everyone was going to meet up later. I had a great time at dinner, talked a lot with one of the "JVs" (significant others of Kellogg students), and got the lowdown from her and this 1st year chick on the dating seen and my chances. Good stuff ;-). After dinner we mosied on over to the bar area and I found myself sitting at a table with two 1st year guys. In the span of the next 20 minutes, five hot 1st year girls came over. Yes five girls at random (more or less), and I do mean hot (as a single guy this is very important ladies; apologies if I sound crass). I was impressed. At that point I was really convinced I'd be going to Kellogg :-).


Saturday

Decided that after the previous night I would skip whatever was planned for the morning. Got up around 11am, made it just in time for lunch with students talking about recruiting. Basically heard the same stuff as the guy I talked with Friday said, so I felt even more confident. It was good to hear it from a 1st year as well. I heard that the first DAK didn't do such a good job on this front so I extra scrutinous. Then we got corralled again into the auditorium for the alumni discussion panel. Noticed there were a lot less people than on Friday. I kind of snoozed through this panel, and then left to make some phone calls about an apartment and came back in time for the next presentation on the "Kellogg Experience". It basically just talked about some of the clubs and unique things like GIM. Honestly, I don't remember all that much about it because I kept leaving to call the guy about the apartment. There were some issues with someone else who had signed a lease, but then was thinking about backing out, etc., so a bunch of calls needed to be made. By the time I was done with that the presentations were over and it was now time to go to the club fair. Got to speak with the reps from all the clubs on campus, figured out which I was likely to join, and shortly thereafter went back to McManus with an hour to spare before the closing dinner and night out.

Closing dinner was at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was fairly nice. Food was ok, drinks were not free. Then we got on a bus to go to Zellas, a club/lounge downtown. The bus driver decided to take the most ridiculously long way I've ever seen to get there, going west then east then west then east, so while we were amongst the first to leave I think we were amongst the last to arrive. Anyway, Zellas was a good time. I met up with another buddy from the GSB who was hanging out with his Kellogg friends he knew from undergrad, threw back a bunch of shots, had an awesome time, found myself calling it a night around 1:30am. But, I desperately needed food so I went to Dunkin Donuts and therefore missed the bus. Buses left every 30 min, so no biggy. Went back inside, 2:10am rolled around and no announcement had come about the 2:00am bus. I figured it was safer to just get on the bus then since 2:30am was the last bus back. A few people got on the bus, but 2:30am came and went with no announcement, leaving many many behind. Oh well, sucks for them.

Again, I had a retarded bus driver so it was 4:30am when we got back (with the time change that night). Checked my email because I had to fill out an application for the apartment and email it back to the landlord so we could have a lease ready by Sunday. In the email he said "we should meet at 11am". It was 5am. I was piss drunk. Fuck me.


Sunday

Somehow I woke up at 11am. No alarm, just instinct (if you knew Redwolf you'd be really surprised about this). I felt pretty ill, but got myself together and talked to the guy and said we'd meet at noon. Went to get some breakfast, saw some really attractive undergrads, went to my new home, signed a lease, and knew at that moment I was definitely going to Kellogg ;-). Went to the airport, got on a standby flight home before the big storm really hit, and made it home by 7pm. It was a great way to end a really great weekend.


Epilogue

As you all know, I am going to Kellogg in the fall. DAK sold me. People kept asking me during DAK if I had "drank the koolaid". Um... no? While I am sold on Kellogg, I don't think I'm going to end up being one of these "Rah Rah" Kellogg types. And while I think Kellogg is going to be awesome, I don't think it's going to be quite like an acid trip. Instead, how about we just say, "I'm on the bus."


Oh, and a special thanks to Clear Admit for the nomination. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rumble in the Windy City

...continued from the previous post

(whistle blows)

Announcer: And so it begins Ladies and Gentlemen. The storied fight for Redwolf056's favor is now underway. Right now our two opponents are sizing each other up, but it looks like the GSB is getting ready to make the first blow...

GSB: Kellogg man, I don't even know why you're here. You know you're gonna lose. You don't have the finance recruiting to compete with me, chump!

(GSB pushes Kellogg)

Kellogg: Hey, hey, watch who you're shoving there home-boy. You almost wrinkled my sweater-vest. Do you have any idea what the boys at the club would say if I came with a wrinkled sweater? And we do to have the finance recruiting to compete. Most of the banks that come to your campus come to ours as well. The difference is we don't have nearly so many students trying to grab their attention. They can sit back and chat in a civilized manner. Redwolf056 will be much better off with us because it will be much easier for him to stand out.

GSB: Man, Redwolf056 will stand out wherever he's at. He's going to come with us because he knows he'll be best off at the place with the most firms coming to recruit- and that's us! We got alumni throughout the industry for him to use.

Kellogg: You may have more of them, but we make up for it with quality. Our alumni will go out of their way to hook each other up, unlike yours. Maybe if you guys actually had a fun environment over there they'd be happier to help each other out.

GSB: Oh, we have plenty of fun over here. We may not be a "party" school like you, but we've improved a lot in the last couple years.

Kellogg: Didn't "Fun come to die" at your campus?

Shouts from the audience: Oh damn, he did not just go there! Kellogg just said your momma's a ho' and cheated on yo' daddy with Fun. You gonna take that?!

(Kellogg and GSB turn toward the audience with confused looks on their faces, then shrugs their shoulders)

GSB: Why you gotta bring that up?! That was a long time ago man. Things are different. Fun, Jr. has been coming by over the last couple years now. He doesn't blame us for his what happened to his Dad. It was an accident!

Kellogg: "Coming by"? At our campus Fun, Jr. converted his father's mansion into a full fledged resort! He spends all his weekends with us.

GSB: Whatever man, we have plenty of fun over here. Besides, b-school is only partly about fun. It's about learning too. And we have the best academics of any program in the country for finance. I bet you guys don't even know what a Vasicek model is.

Kellogg: Uh... I think I was hungover that day in class. But our finance department is really good. We may not have all those "quant" classes you have, but you obviously don't know Redwolf056. He already has a strong quant background. He doesn't need any more. If anything, he's got to counterbalance that image with other stuff like teamwork and social skills. And WE are the best school for that.

GSB: Teamwork is for chumps! All it does is slow you down.

Kellogg: (Gasps) You dare insult teamwork? You have crossed the line GSB!

GSB: Bring it, bitch.

Shouts from the audience: About time you punk asses actually do something and stop pussyfooting around. Knock the bitch out!

(Kellogg and GSB move in to try to hit each other)

Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen this could be it. The first real blows of the match. Here it comes... Oh!! Unbelievable! Kellogg and GSB punched each other at the same time and they are both down for the count!

Shouts from the audience: You call that a punch? Looked more like a bitch-slap to me.

Announcer: These two champs seem to be really out of it. Ten seconds have passed, so the first one to actually stand up will be declared the winner... What's this? Chicago appears to be moving. He appears to have turned himself over and is trying to pick himself up. Oh, but wait! Kellogg has started moaning. He appears to be trying to say something, but I can't quite make it out. Yes, it's starting to sound clearer. I think I can almost understand it. It sounds, hmm, I think it sounds like....

Kellogg: Team! Help me up!

(Kellogg's team runs over and picks him up)

Referee: (blows whistle) That's it! Kellogg is the winner!

Announcer: Oh my god, another unprecedented event, Ladies and Gentlemen! Kellogg has just won by using his team for support. Anything goes in a streetfight like this, and it appears teamwork has come through for Kellogg to win. This is a great day for all the Kellogg fans out there. It looks like Redwolf056 will be attending Kellogg in the fall...

(audience cheers)