The Real Fun Starts in Fall: Classes

Drinking from firehose

The description of the first year of business school as “drinking from a fire hose” is so true at Kellogg! The reward for completing any task is a shiny new task that is usually more difficult than the last. It sometimes feels like I’m spending more time on assignments and preparing for classes than the awesome things I came to do at business school: interact with great people, create challenging but fun experiences and land my dream job!

Since I didn’t waive any of my core courses, I don’t have a lot of flexibility with my Fall quarter courses but that’s okay. I’m appreciating the opportunity to build a strong foundation in accounting, statistics, marketing and business strategy before moving on to more complicated business topics. My favorite class of the quarter is currently business strategy. Professor Garthwaite goes really fast, and there’s a lot of ‘cold calling’ (asking students to explain details of a case without warning), but his sense of humor helps to reduce the tension in the room. I also love the opportunity to think critically about the subject of business.

Something I think can improved is for the cases we read to be evenly distributed between North America, Europe, Asia and Africa instead of the America-centric focus that we have today. Even though I’ve been in the US for a while, I sometimes lack adequate context to effectively discus old american companies like Sears or Blockbuster. I can only wonder how my colleagues who are totally new to the US are faring, but then again, some of my classmates are gods walking among men… 🙂

Something I find interesting about my core classes is that professors actually know what we are learning in other core classes, and try to help us tie it together into some sort of integrated learning experience. So my marketing professor mentions concepts we have covered (or will be covering) in business strategy and ties it to the marketing class, and my accounting professor talks about marketing and so on. I think this really helps me integrate the courses about different functional areas into one giant course about the subject of business.

I guess this is true at most top-tier business schools, but one cool thing at Kellogg is how the diverse backgrounds of my classmates provide a rich context for discussing ideas in the classroom. One example of this was when we were discussing the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986, and were talking about O-rings, and how the decisions of some senior executives may have led to the disintegration of the space shuttle. Someone sitting close to me raised up his hand and said that he could provide some context as he had been designing O-rings for a few years in his last job. Everyone else kept quiet and listened! You can’t beat that kind of credibility.

I plan to write about my club experiences and what I call the “other education” in future posts, but for now, it’s off to assignments and prepping for next week’s mid-term exams!

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