CORE CURRICULUM IS ONE COURSE…WITH ONE GRADE
What attracts them to Bloomington, the quintessential college town best known for its limestone quarries and Little 500 bicycle race (think Breaking Away). For one, the curriculum is completely different from any other business school. Instead of taking individual core courses, students complete a 15-week integrated core, where they are immersed in areas like marketing, finance, and operations as a whole. Heavily hands-on and project-driven, the core enables Kelley students to experience how disciplines interconnect and complement each other. How’s this for pressure? You get one grade for the entire core.
To prepare first-years for summer internships, the school also requires them to complete an Academy, where they take a deep dive into their field of interest. The Kelley curriculum features seven first-year academies, covering areas such as consulting, supply chains, strategic finance, and healthcare. For example, first-years joining the Consumer Marketing Academy will make six to eight site visits to leading firms, along with having brand executives regularly come to campus for a “Day in the Life” sessions to answer questions. Students also complete a seve- week “mock internship,” where they complete a project for one of Kelley’s corporate partners, which include P&G, PepsiCo, Nestle, and 3M, and present their recommendations to company executives. In other words, students not only learn their trade, they are also exposed to potential mentors and industry connections. Even more, students can complete a second-year Academy for more intensive coursework and networking.
This package was hard to pass up for Adriane Coldman, a Toyota distribution administrator who was initially drawn to Kelley’s strong ties to leading packaged-goods firms. “I ultimately want to transition my career into brand management and was thrilled that the Consumer Marketing Academy would allow me the opportunity to work with reputable companies to solve current consumer issues and gain practical insight into the decisions brand managers make on a daily basis,” Coldman says. “I knew that Kelley would not only provide me with necessary business fundamentals, but also with the competitive edge that comes from participating in one of their tailored academies.”
HIGH TOUCH ATMOSPHERE INCLUDES THREE COACHES PER STUDENT
Despite its ground-breaking curriculum, the Class of 2018 touted Kelley’s emphasis on personal attention and sense of community as its biggest selling points. In the end, every student enjoys three coaches: a career center coach who focuses on elevating their career prospects; an Academy coach with extensive expertise and connections in a field of study; and 50 or more second-year coaches, who each take a handful of first-years under their wing during Me, Inc., the core, and the academies. Indeed, one-on-one attention is the secret ingredient at the school, with each student completing nearly 100 hours of coaching before graduation. On top of that, the career center is second to none, consistently ranking in the top five in The Economist’s annual student survey.
This all-for-one dynamic fosters a tighter-than-normal bond between first- and second-year students, which always helps when it comes time to provide support and open doors during the recruiting process. This camaraderie also gives the Kelley culture an aura where students are valued as individuals, yet comfortable in blending into the whole, says Miller. “It was an intangible that you can’t experience unless you visit, and once you do, you’ll understand,” he explains. “I was blown away by my experience at Kelley and the sense of community that they have worked to create here. There are many graduate schools where students feel like another number, or find difficultly adjusting to the program’s culture. For me, it was important to find a school with the right fit. Kelley ultimately ended up being a place that felt like home.”
That welcoming spirit extends to the students they recruit, adds Scholten, who sometimes felt his background in opera undercut his chances at some schools. “During the admissions process, they really seemed to treat my unusual background as an asset instead of a hurdle which needed to be overcome. Having that kind of attitude and support was very desirable to me.”
CLASS ASPIRES TO BE SEEN AS LEADERS
What’s next for the Class of 2018? Many, such as Brazil’s Diogo Bizinoto, talked of moving into B-to-C marketing and brand management, no surprise for a school labeled as the training ground for nearby Procter & Gamble. For others, the industry is also a means to accomplish something greater. “I want to create lasting emotional connections between products and consumers and build brands that truly improve the lives and well-being of consumers,” says Coldman. “As a Kelley student I value healthy competition, collaboration and integrity. After graduating, I want to work for a company that shares similar values, sells products I believe in.”
Koch intends to take what she learns and plow it back into the family business. “The amusement park and attractions industry gets in your blood — once you’ve held an amusement park job, it’s hard to leave. It’s even harder when you grew up in the industry. Since my love for the industry runs so deeply, my plan is to return to the family business and take on more responsibility.”
How does the Class of 2018 want to be seen by their peers? The answer was almost universal: They wanted to be remembered for their leadership. “I would like for them to say that I am a leader who brings people up with me, says Doppen. For Koch, leadership has a more personal connotation, reminding her of the passing of her father. “When my father ran our theme park, he was always recognized as a visionary and an excellent leader,” she says, “and it would be an honor if my peers recognized those same attributes in me.”
To read profiles of incoming Kelley students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.