This Thursday, I attended Kellogg’s convocation event for 2nd years, hosted by the KSA and by the Dean’s office. The convocation was held to welcome students back to school for their 2nd year, and the event was followed by welcome reception, giving us a chance to catch up with our peers over friend chicken and brownies (that’s what I ate).
KSA president Zach Hollander kicked off the event with a welcome from the KSA, reminding us of our responsibilities as 2nd years, to help and guide the first years. I think that atleast 90% of Kellogg 2nd years would end up helping 1st years in some way or another. Why? Well, quite simply put, we received an amazing amount of help from our seniors. And we are going to give back. For me, that means leading the Public Speaking Club, helping with the High Tech Trek to the west coast, and helping students with case prep as part of the Consulting club. And helping in any other way that I can.
Zach’s speech was followed by the customary look back at the 1st year through a slide show of pictures with some irrelevant music playing in the background. One good think that they did this year was to crowd source the selection of pictures, by letting us upload pictures to a Google document. As a result, we did not end up with 50 pictures of the KSA leaders and 20 of their best friends. Well done KSA!
Dean Blount took the stage next, and updated us on all the work she has been doing since she joined Kellogg. It’s quite remarkable how much she seems to have achieved in a few months. Her key message to us was – take some time off the self-reflect. Some of the most successful people that she knows achieved the success because they took the time to listen to the voice inside, which was telling them what to do. She suggested that we spend 5 hours away from all phones, people, email, Facebook, twitter etc. – at which we all gasped. 5 hours? I mean if she had said 30 minutes, I might have been OK, but 5 hours? Such is the level of addiction with all these gadgets, social networks etc., that I am struggling to finish this bog post without checking email or updating my status to ‘writing a blog post.’
After a few more updates from Dean Roxanne Hori from the Career Management Center and Professor Michelle Buck, Kellogg’s director of Leadership Initiatives, we got some invaluable advice from Professor of the Year, David Besanko. He had a very simple and inspiring message, “Learning Hurts, Embrace the Pain.” He explained that he meant the following: We all have a tendency to self-select courses, teammates, situations that are within our comfort zone. It takes effort to step outside the comfort zone, and to do activities that will truly develop us. Professor Besanko said that his is most likely the last 9 months we would have dedicated to our learning, and to take full advantage of these, we should try to do the following:
- Take courses outside your comfort zone. So if you are a marketer uncomfortable with numbers (I am totally stereotyping here), take Financial Decisions. Or if you uncomfortable with speaking in public, take a course which will force you to voice your opinions, or join the Public Speaking Club (blatant advertising for my club, of course).
- Build teams from people you typically you do not work with. I noticed that several of my teams from 1st year largely consisted of Indian guys. Not that there is anything wrong with Indian guys, it’s just that we lose out on the variety of opinion that a more diverse team might bring. So this year I am consciously trying to team up with people who I have not worked within the past.
- Take a principled, fact-supported stance on issues being discussed in class. Debate, express your opinion, even if the majority is against you.
- Last, but not least, build some work product that you are proud of. This might be a case that you write with a professor, which gets used in subsequent Kellogg courses.
I left the convocation really excited for the 2nd year. One of the things I am really looking forward to this quarter is the Venture Lab course, through which I will be working with OCA Ventures as an intern. So here’s to the 2nd year, and beyond.