MBA Journal: First Year Overview

Looking Back, Looking Forward


Spring is finally here, and things feel very different. I am taking some courses that I love, I no longer have to worry about finding an internship, and I have gotten the chance to focus on what really matters to me.

The first year at B-school has been enriching. It has been quite different from my educational experience in other countries (Mexico, Germany, Spain and Canada), but it has been enjoyable. It hasn't all been perfect, but even the bittersweet moments have been beneficial. Being in such a competitive setting, where I am constantly driven out of my comfort zone, has turned me into a more mature person. I dared to try, and I learned a lot from trying in a safe environment.

I have also learned the value of free time. Before business school I took my nonworking weekends for granted. When I worked, I had most of the weekends free, and I could easily fit my vacations, which were flexible, around the events going on in my life. Now my schedule is packed all day with events, presentations, and group meetings. And weekends are not any lighter. This has made me much more selective when it comes to committing to activities.

A Chance in Cosmetics

At the very beginning of the quarter, I had some internship offers lined up to do either my Plan B (dream industry in the wrong job) or Plan C (dream job in the wrong industry). Just before deciding to accept the offer that was closest to Plan A, I discovered that there was an executive who was also a L'Oreal alumna and had an MBA from the same school as one of my best friends. My friend provided me with her information from her undergrad alumni database, and I cold-called her. After explaining my motivations and concerns, she offered to help and ultimately offered me an internship. So this summer I will be a Brand Manager MBA intern at a cosmetics company.

After this good news surfaced, my peers and I welcomed the class of 2012 for Day at Kellogg II—a day where accepted students come to campus. It reminded me of all the excitement I felt a year ago. I can't believe it has been more than a year since I was accepted to Kellogg. I look back with a sentimental mindset to when I received my acceptance e-mail, my visit to Kellogg, and my first school day.

This quarter has been particularly interesting. Academically, I am almost done with my core courses (I am missing only my MMM integration project, which I have to take next winter). Now I can sign up for the classes I really want to take. My favorite course at Kellogg so far has been the Image, Style, & Design class with Professor Fischer. Although the course requires a lot of reading, I really like the diversity in the classroom. There are students focused on business, engineering, journalism, media, and medicine in the class. The diversity of backgrounds makes discussions extremely interesting. We have had executives from Valspar, Starwood, and the Willis (Sears) Tower in the classroom to explain how they have applied image and style to create innovative products and services.

I'm also taking Finance II, a core course I thought I wouldn't like, but it turns out I like it a lot. In the class I had the opportunity to do a presentation about how corporate finance will need to evolve to cater to corporate social responsibility. In addition, I'm taking Advertising Strategy, where I analyzed an advertising strategy for Olay Daily Facials, as well as a current advertising campaign for Sears.

Never Mind the Broken Bones

Outside of class, I have become an executive officer for the Luxury Goods & Retail Club, and I joined Catholics at Kellogg. I participated in a short film for Special K (the school musical), which takes place during the alumni reunion celebration each year. I also attended the Women in Business Association (WBA) conference, which was amazing and inspiring. In particular, I had the chance to interact with Beth Pritchard, director of Ecolab, former CEO of Dean & Deluca, former president and chief executive of Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, and White Barn Candle Co., who gave me the inspiration to continue dreaming.

My fellow Mexican classmates and I had the chance to see our national soccer team play at Soldier Field in Chicago, and I will be the only female playing soccer with the guys at the Kellogg Soccer World Cup. Also, I danced in the Marhati and the Salsa fusion dances in the Bollywood Bash, one of the best parties of the year; unfortunately I broke a leg during the performance and spent some time on crutches. But life at Kellogg doesn't stop. After finding out that I had a broken leg, I attended the Israel Independence Day lunch.

Only a few days are left before the summer begins, and I am excited about moving to a different city and starting my internship doing something very different from what I have done before. On the other hand, I'm sad, because this means my second-year friends will be leaving Kellogg to start a new life in business. Now I am only left with hope and a lot of emotion to see what my "senior" year at Kellogg brings.

Lorena_sanchez_garcia
Lorena Sánchez García is enrolled in the full-time MBA and Master of Engineering Management program at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Before business school Sánchez García was an internal consultant for a Mexican company. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with a minor in industrial engineering from ITESM at Campus Monterrey in Mexico in 2004. She has also interned for L'Oréal in Germany.

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