B-School Life

MBA Journal: Graduation Week at Kellogg


As ‘disorientation week’ (my informal name for graduation week—given that it’s as intense as orientation, but all that is now familiar will soon vanish) began, I felt a mix of melancholy, accomplishment, and excitement. It seemed like only yesterday that I arrived for admit weekend at Kellogg. In the past two years, I have met smart people, learned more than I thought possible, and had a lot of fun.

During grad week I attended my first alumni event. We received gifts—Tiffany bracelets for women and Ralph Lauren ties for men—reminding us to always "Keep Kellogg Closer." I will continue my involvement as an alumna by becoming an ambassador and an applicant interviewer, so if you see me somewhere, please say hello.

I also attended the launch of my good friend’s startup. It was exciting to see the business idea he had when we started as Kellogg— selling cool T-shirts and contributing money to charity—become a reality. As the weather got warmer, I went to my first Chicago Cubs game, which gave me a chance to learn about baseball and spend time with friends. I also participated in my last formal event at Kellogg: prom night. It was exciting to see everyone dressed up one last time. Even getting ready with the girls was fun. We all captured the memory by taking pictures in the photo booth at the event.

Final Mass, MBA Sunrise

Finally, I attended a going-away mass at Sheil Catholic Center, the last event organized by the Catholics@Kellogg leadership team, and I walked at both of my convocations to receive my MBA and MEM degrees. The night ended with a Kellogg tradition as graduates watched the sun rise on the shores of Lake Michigan, marking our first full day as MBAs and the beginning of a new stage in our lives.

As my MBA journey wraps up, I think back to when I was applying for business school. My essays then centered on creating a holistic well-being. If I were applying again, my motivations and goals would be the same. However, the depth with which I would describe my mentor, leadership skills, failures, accomplishments, goals, and self-awareness would be much more detailed.

I am now aware of what an important role applications play in business school. Not only are they essential to help schools evaluate, but they also serve as a compass for admitted students. Applications can guide you when you are flooded with options; they are a reminder of what needs attention in your journey of improvement. They also serve as a constant reminder of who you are and what you want to become.

When I came to Kellogg, I didn’t know that my career path was such an unpaved road. Beauty companies do not recruit on campus, and the Kellogg network in the field is small but growing. I wish I were more aware at the start that my transition would take a lot of preparation and hard work. While things were hard at times, I had an amazing support network in my peers and an excellent career coach, a second-year student who was my interview-preparation group leader. Thanks to him, my hard work, and many people who believed in me, I landed my dream job at L’Oreal.

My Kellogg MBA Top 10 List

Before signing off, I want to share the 10 things I liked most about earning the Kellogg MBA:

1. Having friends from all over the world who provided me with a support network and who shared in activities inside and outside class. I went on trips, participated in clubs, and played soccer in the Kellogg World Cup with them.

2. Electives. Learning about things that interested me and having professors who "wrote the books" teach me. Kellogg offered me the chance to learn such new concepts as WACC, leverage, 4Ps, 3Cs, Porter’s five forces, and accounting. My MEM degree allowed me to also take my all-time-favorite class, which was about the importance of image, style, and design. My professor focused on teaching us innovative frameworks to create products and services that make an emotional connection with consumers.

3. My internship at Amway Beauty, which provided me with the chance to spend my summer with very talented people doing what I love (and paid me for it), was a great experience.

4. Insights shared by distinguished speakers who visited Kellogg, which offered me a chance to listen to different views on business, world issues, and industries. Featured speakers included the former chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret, the former President of Columbia, and Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder of Groupon.

5. The trips. I had so much fun traveling to Hong Kong and Macao during KWEST, going to California and Texas to enhance my global and experiential learning as part of Global Lab, hitting the slopes on our ski trip, and meeting my future colleagues at L’Oreal in New York in the LG+R trek.

6. Complete Immersion in Management (CIM) Week and Management and Organizations (MORS) preterm, which were among the hardest weeks of my life. This is definitely the part of the program where I learned the most about myself and met most of my classmates.

7. Bollywood Bash, an event in which I participated both years. I broke a leg during my first-year dance, but it was fun to do a routine with my classmates.

8. Feedback. This came from everyone, every time, everywhere. I had never been around so many people who were so committed to my personal development. All my peers, professors, and mentors helped me become a better manager and person. Best of all, I believe I have improved in many areas, such as active listening, leadership, English language, and balancing work and life.

9. MOSAIC Week at Kellogg, which focuses on issues related to diversity and presented me with an amazing opportunity to share with my friends what my country and culture are like.

10. Being involved in leading clubs such as Catholics@Kellogg, Luxury Goods + Retail, and the Women’s Business Assn., which gave me the chance to contribute to the Kellogg experience of my peers and put into practice my management skills.

Kellogg has been an opportunity to step back, think differently, and obtain a broader perspective while having fun. In the short term, I sacrificed salary and time. What I have gained is much more valuable than all the money in the world; it is the value of leadership and an ever-growing network that will last through my career.

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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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