Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A new strategy for next quarter

Bidding Bonanza #4 went a lot better for me than last time, when I only got 1 of my classes in Round 1 bidding (prices in Round 2 bidding are generally inflated like crazy, so I prefer to avoid it). This time around, I got 4 of the 5 classes I bid on in Round 1, and the class that I didn't get wasn't high priority for me. Furthermore, I am going with a new class strategy for next quarter that will ultimately lead me to drop down to 3 classes total. Here is my current schedule:
  1. Marketing Channel Strategies (MKTG451) - Wilson
  2. Technology Marketing (MKTG468) - Sawhney
  3. Information & Technology Based Marketing (MKTG953) - ZettelMeyer
  4. Enterprise Technology Management (OPNS458) - Jeffery/Walker (AUDIT...maybe)
In undergrad, I didn't have to worry much about designing my curriculum. We had fewer electives, which were constrained by a handful of available majors, and more or less taken in a prescribed order. So, once I decided on my specialties going into junior year, I was pretty much done selecting classes.

In grad school, there is a lot more flexibility (relative to my undergrad experience). Once you wrap up the core classes, which are all but done by the second quarter, it's all about selecting electives for the next four quarters. And at Kellogg, there are A LOT of electives. Although many of them don't appeal to me, there are enough to require some prioritization and trade offs. For example, I've passed on a number of classes that I was initially very excited about, including Global Initiatives in Management and Entrepreneurial Finance.

Up to now, my strategy has been to take as many classes as possible in any particular subjects that interested me.  Unfortunately, I ran into several problems that were impacting my overall experience, which is quickly coming to an end.
  1. It can be exhausting. I have the type of personality that makes it really hard to not do all of the assigned readings, work, etc. So, I instead sacrifice other things to try and do it all, foregoing any chances to relax. Eventually, I tend to find myself in a daze from lack of sleep that severely impacts my ability to do anything. I think this article that we read for Managerial Leadership really nails it when it talks about the importance of oscillation (alternating between periods of stress/relaxation) for high performance. I've still been periodically suffering a bit of burn out from the first year this quarter.
  2. I can't spend as much time on subjects I find interesting. When I sign up for a class, I'm taking a bit of a gamble. It's hard to tell how interested I'll be in the topic beforehand, because up to now, a lot of the topics have been completely new to me. Sometimes, I find that I'm really interested in a class or concept, but I can't really dig into it because I have to constantly switch between classes to keep up with the work.
  3. There is little time for anything else. This kind of ties into the ones above, but basically, I just don't have as much time for outside interests/hobbies. 
In response to these issues, my game plan for next quarter is to only take 3 classes, which will all be in Marketing (an area I've increasingly taken an interest to). So I'll be dropping Enterprise Technology Management and possibly auditing it, though I haven't decided yet. I think this will help me address the 3 issues above, and although I'm sure I'll still find a way to fill up my free time, it will be with the things that I'm most interested in pursuing. Hopefully, it will also help me develop a deeper familiarity with something (Marketing) before I leave here.

Part of my strategy was motivated by this article, The Roberts Method: A Professor’s Advice for Falling in Love With Your Major, which I ran into right before bidding started. The article is based on advice by Andrew Roberts, a professor of political science at Northwestern University, and although it is geared toward undergrads, it still seems applicable.

I'm looking forward to seeing how my schedule plays out next quarter.


  1. Really useful blog for those interested on Kellogg, keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Nicolas! I'm glad to hear it.

  3. Just curious, do you think you will be "Applying" a lot of your elective classes to your job in the real world at BCG? I'm just curious.

    I went to NU undergrad, with a major in economics, and have not been using a lot of what I learned at my current job at a bank in Chicago.

  4. Oh, how's the financial aid at Kellogg? How much grant money does the school provide for the two year MBA program? Just curious to know more about that!

  5. Sorry, but I can't really speak much to the financial aid at Kellogg, because I don't know too much about it, especially relative to other schools. From my own experience, I know it's possible to get multiple scholarships, and the school pretty much takes care of all of that and informs you of anything you receive.

    According to this story, http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/News_Articles/2010/scholarships.aspx, there are 160 students that received scholarships. There's more info about scholarships up at http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Programs/FullTimeMBA/Tuition_Financial_Aid_Scholarships.aspx

  6. I had a similar experience coming out of undergrad, where I wasn't directly applying too many of my engineering electives, outside of misc bits and the programming stuff.

    I don't know what I'll end up applying at work post grad school. There are certain classes that I am certain will come in handy, both from direct experience and from talking to other BCGers. In particular, Financial Decisions (building financial models and doing valuations), Marketing Research (collecting data through surveys, doing conjoints, etc), DECSII (regression analysis), Managerial Communications (giving presentations), and Managerial Leadership (I'll be applying a lot of this to life).

    Otherwise, I agree with what Shahid said in this post: http://thembaexchange.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/the-mba-and-what-its-good-for/. I may not know how to do everything off the top of my head, but the exposure to it in class will at least help me figure it out if and when I need it.

    It's funny how some things stick more than others. For example, I probably won't forget about Prof. Jain's Sandwhich Strategy, which is covered in the new Kellogg on Marketing book, in part because of how well he explained the theory and then reinforced it with several real world examples.

  7. so you're paying full tuition - 78K each year - 156K total? just curious

  8. I have some scholarship funding covering a portion of my tuition, which is ~$50K each year. The rest of the cost is for living expenses.

    I took the loan package that the school prepared for me (it does so for all students I think; not sure about international students) to cover most of the remaining balance, though I have been dipping into my own savings for traveling, maintaining my house, and other misc stuff.

    Fortunately, a big chunk of expenses is also covered by the internship salary.

  9. so, how much student loan debt will you be graduating with? im curious to know....whether it's worthwhile to go back for MBA

  10. Sorry, but I prefer not to go into specifics on the finances.

    I do think that it's worth considering more than just debt when deciding on an MBA. Regardless, I think that over the life of a career, you'd probably more than make up for lost wages and debt.

  11. 1) I always enjoy reading your posts. They are thoughtful and well-organized!

    2) Problem #4 with maxing out your schedule is that you then have difficulty taking on the amazing opportunities that come up unexpectedly throughout the course of the quarter. My work on China events is a perfect example, but others are case competitions, and all the interesting workshops, speakers, events that Kellogg has a neverending stream of, ie. Entrepreneur-in-Residence, boot camps, etc... if you leave yourself some breathing room you will have bandwidth to pick up something if it comes up.

    Of course this is do as I say and not as I do since I'm hellbent on taking 6 classes next quarter.


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