Kelley Commentaries: Never Going Back to ‘Normal’

Indiana Kelley MBA Students (Left to right: Kyle Anderson, Cait Hickey, Monica Scinto, Laura Nieto, Alex Berman, Justin Speller)

If you know anything about Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, you know that GLOBASE (Global Business and Social Enterprise) is one of the program’s premiere experiences. For seven weeks, we virtually consult for clients from all over the world and then spend a week in-country. As many of us were (literally) packing our bags last March, GLOBASE was canceled and we were moved to virtual learning for the rest of the year.

The Full-Time program benefited from having a sister program, Kelley Direct, that ranks among the best online MBAs programs. Despite Kelley’s online expertise, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the full-time class. Some international students who went home had to attend class at absurdly odd hours. Isolation induced additional mental strain and amplified our dependence on a solid internet connection. Even more, we realized how much we missed bumping into each other in the atrium, cramming into breakout rooms for group projects, and eating lunch together in the graduate student lounge.

This fall, Kelley has implemented a hybrid model. Although we can’t wait to go to back in residence full-time, I hope that we never go back to normal. Why? Let me explain…

Cait Hickey, Indiana University (Kelley)


The last six months have provided unprecedented space for reflection and planning to further elevate our Full-Time program. One of the leading initiatives has been to incorporate Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) into the Kelley curriculum. As part of Me, Inc., Riece Wilder led a group of second-years in writing a case that addressed how to increase awareness of and revenue for a Black-owned local barbershop. First-years are also currently completing the Core curriculum, and the quantitative methods professor, John Hill, created a case assessing how drivers in fatal crashes are linked to alcohol and drug use based on race.

These programs are all supported by the student body vice president of diversity and inclusion, Tobi Ojo. He created and administered a DEI survey and used those results to create benchmarking for the Kelley full-time MBA program, which we will use to gauge the success of subsequent DEI initiatives. Ojo and his team of Diversity Champions are also launching an Ally Certificate program and establishing a DEI mentorship program with Kelley undergrads starting this fall. These initiatives have all either started or gained momentum during the global pandemic – and we will all be better for it.

Outside of the curriculum, we needed to cultivate social closeness during a physically distant time. Our student body vice president of alumni relations, Kaitlyn Burtner, launched an Industry Update series to connect current students to alumni in their field of interest, such as tech, healthcare, real estate, consulting, and more. These sessions were some of our most highly attended events of the entire year (they were even hosted on Fridays!). Students were able to ask questions and engage in open dialogue with alumni from all over the country – an opportunity that is actually much harder to facilitate in-person due to time and cost constraints.


As any business student knows, the culmination of the first-year is your internship. Normally, we would have moved out of Bloomington and dispersed across the country. In this remote world, our class was able to complete our internships from Bloomington and get to know the town in a completely new way after hours and over the weekends. If you have ever visited Bloomington for a tailgate or a basketball game, I don’t have to tell you how to have fun around here. For those that haven’t, Bloomington is a quintessential college town with deep-rooted traditions. You could often find us “Sinking the Biz” at Nick’s or attending a BlueBird concert, things my mom also did when she was an undergrad Kelley and my sister more recently did as a Ph.D. student.

Indiana University in Bloomington

This summer, we had the unique opportunity to get to know a quieter Bloomington. We rode our bikes down the B-Line and hiked Griffy Lake. We learned how to play pickleball and explored all of the tennis courts in town. We found creative ways to celebrate birthdays at outdoor parks and did our best to stimulate the local economy by picking up Big Woods BBQ nachos, coffee from Hopscotch, and pastries from Two Sticks Bakery. And as business school students that completed Operations as part of the Core curriculum, we obviously joked about how on-line ordering ahead of time eliminated bottlenecks.

Business school moves fast. While the pandemic did slow the pace, I appreciated the opportunity we had to elevate the program and spend time in a classic Midwest town. Although I hope the next generation of Kelleys will have the opportunity to travel for GLOBASE and complete internships in-person, I also hope they take the time to challenge “going back to normal.”

Cait Hickey is a second year at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Prior to joining Kelley, Cait had five years of experience in high growth start-ups, most recently at a health intelligence software firm where she managed strategic partnerships. She is studying Corporate Innovation and Marketing and serves as VP of Marketing and Communication for the student body, Hoosier Host, and research assistant for the Management and Strategy department. This summer, Cait interned at Humana. Working with the Digital Transformation program management team, she supported both the change and product management workstreams. Outside of school, she enjoys biking the B-line, working and studying at HopScotch, and planning her next trip.

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