Meet The Indiana Kelley MBA Class of 2017

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

As competition from rivals for the best female candidates heated up last year, the percentage of women slipped from 32% to 29% in the 2017 Class. At the same time, the number of international student climbed from 35% to 36%, with minority students accounting for 18% of the class.

On average, Kelley’s Class of 2017 is 28 years old and possesses 5 years of work experience. The highest percentages of the class hail from consulting and high tech at 10% each. Other large blocs include: Financial services (8%), military (7%), computer-related services (6%), retail and wholesale (6%), education, government and the arts (5%), and consumer goods (5%).

And the class is certainly arriving at a good time. According to preliminary data from July, Kelley’s Class of 2015 is averaging $107,000 in base salary after graduation, up $3,000 from the previous class. Average signing bonuses also climbed to $22,000, up $2,000 over the previous year, with other guaranteed compensation holding steady at $11,000. What’s more, three-quarters of the 2015 Class are getting hired in marketing (27.5%), finance (25.1%), and consulting (22.8%), with graduates finding work with top employers like McKinsey, Amazon, Bain, Google, Goldman Sachs, General Mills, Kraft Foods, JP Morgan Chase, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and PwC.


So what’s the appeal of a Kelley MBA? For one, it is the school’s strong focus on academics, with a recent Princeton Review student survey ranking Kelley #1 for having the best professors. But it’s not what’s taught as much as how it’s taught. For one, the program offers what it calls “academies” in the second and third semesters. Here, each student takes a deep, experiential dive into their chosen specialization. As a result, students head into their internships better prepared to meet (if not exceed) the expectations of their employers. Before classes even start, students also complete Me, Inc., a series of workshops and exercises that prep students for the recruiting process to come. In fact, you could say that Kelley subscribes to a coaching culture, with the school reporting that students receive up to 90 hours of required coaching. In other words, Kelley students are continuously tutored so they have shorter learning curves when they start their jobs. And that makes them popular with recruiters, with Kelley consistently boasting placement rates of 90% or better in recent years.

For Mark Schultz, who earned a Merit Fellowship to Kelley after serving as a financial analyst at Cigna, this focus on feedback was a real differentiator. “While visiting campus, it was clear to me that the Graduate Career Services team was dedicated to helping students reach their career goals. When I visited other top ranked schools and asked about their career services, students let me know it existed, but didn’t elaborate much more than that. The team at Kelley starts working with students on the first day of orientation to prepare us for interviews and the internship search. This close working relationship continues throughout the entire duration of the MBA program.”

Downtown Bloomington

Downtown Bloomington

Schultz also cited Kelley’s small class size as a big plus. “It helps contribute to a small community feel within the school. It has been a great experience to get to know so many peers in such a short period of time. We have a class of students who compete against each other for internships and jobs, but truly want each other to succeed in their pursuits.” And this atmosphere is reinforced by the school’s location in Bloomington, Indiana. Known for its lively arts scene and stunning limestone buildings, Bloomington is described by Priyanka Karnik, a former buyer at Target, as having “a small town feel over the big city hustle and bustle.”


As a whole, however, the Class of 2017 was most smitten with the school’s collaborative and nurturing culture. Pechanec describes a “glow” among the students she met during the recruiting process, while Ellen Blanchard, a brand manager from Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables, found the school vibe to be contagious, feeling “welcome, inspired, and excited” after her visit. For Karnik, the best part was that her connections during the recruiting process were authentic, not an act. “Everyone was willing to go above and beyond to help me through the process and even when I was accepted into the program. Kelleys were more interested in helping me find the right program rather than pressuring me to choose their school.”

Idalene F. "Idie" Kesner

Kelley Dean Idie Kesner

Months into the program, the honeymoon continues for many Kelley first-years.  Drew Brown, a project engineer from Des Moines, is looking forward to his GLOBASE experience, a highly popular offering where Kelley students head overseas to provide consulting in developing countries. “I’m eager for a consulting trip in which I will be immersed in Ghanaian business over spring break this coming March,” he shares. “As I firmly believe Africa is the next frontier of business, this unique trip will be an once-in-a-lifetime chance to practice business in Africa before pioneering business opportunities there in the future.”

Blanchard hopes to apply the lessons she learns in the core – and from coaching. “I’m looking to further develop my general business knowledge,” she writes. “By the time I graduate, I want to be able to hold an intelligent and stimulating conversation with people within different business functions – from accounting to marketing to supply chain. I want to become a better leader and use my time at Kelley to develop and practice my personal leadership style.”

At the same time, Karnik plans to embrace the bigger picture and savor her time in business school. “I always thought that the two years I would spend pursuing an MBA would be focused solely on professional growth – expanding my business knowledge and recruiting with top companies in my field of interest. While that remains a top priority during my time at Kelley, I’ve realized that developing relationships with my classmates, faculty, and staff is much more important to me. I hope to build life-long friendships, be pushed outside of my comfort zone, and learn from the vast array of experiences and perspectives that I’m exposed to, all of which I hope to bring with me in my post-MBA career and beyond.”

To read profiles of incoming Kelley students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Alexandra Aghajanian / Laguna Niguel, CA 

Ellen Blanchard / Larchmont, NY

Drew Brown / Des Moines, IA

Paul J. Carlson / Boise, ID

Wayne Chou / Arcadia, CA

Michael Gilligan / Cary, NC

Caroline Jansen / Novi, MI

Priyanka Karnik / Troy, MI

Nicole Pechanec / Kenilworth, NJ

Mark Schultz / Fort Wayne, IN

Wayne Shen / Phoenix, AZ

Erica Smith / Columbus, OH

Karan Wilson / New Delhi, India


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