The last ten weeks at Northwestern’s Kellogg School have felt a lot like a rebirth. Along with the warmth seeping back into our Chicago suburb of Evanston, so has a resounding sense of hope. With COVID restrictions slowly being lifted and life returning to normal, life at Kellogg has never been more fun.
Spring Quarter is a busy time for MBA students all over the world. At Kellogg, it has been one of the most fulfilling seasons of my first year. From social events, to just-in-time recruiting, to club conferences and moving into leadership positions, the spring quarter is an opportunity for students to get even more involved and to make the most of the end of their first year as MBAs!
What makes the Spring Quarter such a memorable time? Here are four things to expect in your Spring Quarter as a first year MBA student:
1. A Continuation Of Community-Building
As I near the end of my first year here, the opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and network have been abundant.
The Kellogg Global Hub has been increasingly vibrant and full every day. We’ve hosted everything from a pancake social for small-group student pods to viewing parties for Kellogg’s Bollywood Bash, a student-led showcase of Bollywood movie production and choreographed dances. I watched Special K, Kellogg’s student-produced, SNL-esque comedy show, with a group of friends. We laughed, cried, and reminisced together about an unprecedented, but still extraordinary, year at Kellogg. My favorite sketch was a friend’s spot-on impression of our beloved Dean Cornelli, accent and all.
Some of my favorite events have been with my section, a smaller community of around 60 students. A recent highlight was our “Herd Week.” My section, Moose, paired up with another, the Cash Cows. We spent the week enjoying social activities like small group game nights, brewery afternoons, and a drag brunch. Each activity had a capped capacity per section to allow for an even mix of peers from different sections. It was such a great way to continue to bond with my section and to get closer with the Cash Cows.
Outside of Herd Week, a group of fellow Moose and I recently took advantage of the lovely spring weather to watch a Chicago Cubs baseball game. We sat at the Wrigley Rooftops, a collection of rooftops across from the stadium where you can sit, enjoy hot dogs and beer, and have a spectacular view of the game. It was a great way to unwind from finals and catch up before everyone started their summer internships. I had so much fun learning about friends about to start interning at Nike, McKinsey, Amazon, and more. There were lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones. It was particularly great to meet some students’ partners — called JVs at Kellogg — who were in town for the long weekend. The magic of this group is how welcoming it is: no matter if it was your first time out with the Moose or the tenth, the group is an open, friendly, place. The Cubs ended up winning, and a handful of us went out to a bar to keep the evening going. At the end of the night, in a fun but unexpected turn of events, there was a limo driver parked outside the bar who offered to take us home. It surprisingly ended up being more economical than Ubers, so we took the leap and drove home in style!
2. A Busy Recruiting Season For Some, Especially Those Who Recruit ‘Just In Time”
While traditional, on-campus recruiting typically culminates during winter quarter, many of my classmates and I found ourselves recruiting into spring quarter.
Coming out of the pandemic, there were many incredible opportunities at companies like Amazon and Peloton popping up well beyond the typical recruiting scope. Additionally, students hoping to enter venture capital, startups, or non-traditional industries participate in the recruiting process ‘just-in-time’ in the spring, like I did. Coming from an artistic background, I wanted to find a balance between business and creative in my internship. As a result, I knew from the beginning of my job search that I would be doing a lot of just-in-time recruiting in the spring quarter.
Kellogg has many resources to help every student navigate their job search. Job Action Groups, organized by industry with peers who were also on the same recruiting path, were a great way to connect and network with other students also recruiting similar companies. I also had a great Career Management Center coach, who was invaluable in navigating my unconventional recruiting journey. She gave me stability, with recurring meetings that made me accountable and pushed me to dig deeper in my job search. She played a huge part in my recruiting journey. With an atypical path, I needed to have a really strong plan, from planning to networking to interviewing. My coach helped keep me on track so I would identify new opportunities and companies to reach out to and also encouraged me to really play to my strengths. She proactively followed up with me and was so communicative, which made what could have been a solo journey feel so much less alone! She also helped me navigate getting two offers on the same day and choose the one that felt like the best fit for me. Thanks to her, I’m thrilled to be interning this summer at Zeno Group working on digital and influencer marketing,
3. Club Conferences Finally Take Place After Weeks Of Planning
The spring quarter is when many clubs host conferences featuring panels of alumni and industry leaders. Planning such an event can span over an entire school year, but spring is when everything comes together. I was fortunate enough to launch Kellogg’s annual Tech Week ahead of its Kellogg Tech Conference 2021.
This quarter, I hosted the kickoff event for Kellogg’s annual Tech Week, a panel focused on TikTok strategies and best practices. As a TikTok influencer myself, it was so fun to educate my classmates on the power of TikTok and how to leverage it to grow your brand. We even launched a Kellogg TikTok Challenge over the course of the week, encouraging students to experiment with content creation. One of the student winners has even since received over half a million views on his channel!
Tech Week not only featured fantastic programming on current and emerging platforms, but also spread out events over many different platforms beyond Zoom, like Clubhouse and Kumospace. I particularly enjoyed interacting with alums in the Future of Industries happy hour. In the Entertainment room, I was able to meet and interact with Kellogg alums at Roblox, Netflix, and Snap. Especially at a company like Netflix, which doesn’t publicly post its internship opportunities anywhere, it was so great to have a touchpoint who could tell me a bit more about her experience. I ended up interviewing for a position there, and alumni like her played a huge part in preparing me for that opportunity. Kellogg’s alumni base is huge and so accessible: the ‘one for all’ mentality goes deep and continues even after you’ve graduated.
4. The Opportunity For First Year Students To Move Into Leadership-Facing Roles
Arriving at Kellogg, students are given time to acclimate before taking on additional responsibility. This spring, I stepped up to take on leading a KWEST, an age-old Kellogg tradition.
KWEST is a student-led trip ahead of student orientation with the purpose of meeting peers and forging strong bonds before beginning school. The bonds I formed early on with my KWESTmates have proven to be some of my strongest here at Kellogg.
Due to COVID-19, my KWEST last summer was based near campus in Evanston, However, we soon realized that KWEST was special due to the deep connections formed during our early days on campus, not where we traveled. We laughed until we cried during what we thought was an outdoor scavenger hunt competition that ended up being filled with time-sensitive prompts like ‘Take a video of someone in your group giving birth’ or ‘Do the WAP dance.’ Later, in small groups at dinner, we dove past typical icebreakers and went straight to deeper conversations about each other’s cultural background and experiences. Those bonds lasted far beyond our initial week together. We celebrated a leader’s engagement together, teamed up to work on a startup together, and drove twelve hours to support another KWESTmate’s Ironman run in another state. This spring quarter, we even planned a reunion weekend trip to relive our original experience.
This experience inspired me to lead a KWEST this coming summer for the incoming class. My trip is going to Dallas, where we’ll explore the city and country and eat amazing BBQ food while making lifelong friendships. I cannot wait to pass on our traditions and experiences to new students.
There are so many things that come to mind when I think “Kellogg.” First and foremost, I think of the incredibly supportive, tight-knit community of students who I am proud to call my peers. Spring Quarter is challenging, but rewarding. Take advantage of any and all opportunities to foster your community, and have the best experience possible.
Ashley Sonlin (Kellogg ’22) is a former music business executive who has worked with P!nk, Natasha Bedingfield, and Lovelytheband. She is also a TikTok influencer with over 100 million views and 500k followers on her TikTok page @ashleysonlin.