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Real Humans of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2023

kellogg mba class of 2023

Maclean Calihan, Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Dartmouth College; majored in Economics and minored in Public Policy
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I really enjoyed my time at the Fed, but wanted to broaden my skillset, and an MBA is a great way to do so. One of the great things about business school is the diversity of work experiences and the cross-pollination between people with different backgrounds! 

Why did you choose Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
In addition to an academic and professional experience, choosing a business school is choosing to buy into a school’s culture. One of the culture-defining qualities that Kellogg looks for in applicants is “high impact, low ego,” and every conversation I had while applying and during Kellogg’s admitted students weekend (DAK) confirmed that to be true. 

Additionally, I want to end up in Chicago after graduation; picking a school that I know has a strong network in the area was a huge plus.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I think that coming from the public sector allows me to look at problems from a different angle than my classmates, whose work was primarily driven by profit and loss. Of course, this means that I’m learning a lot from them, too.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I moved out to Utah and Colorado during the pandemic, where I pursued two of my passions: skiing and hiking.

Post-MBA career interests:
I really liked the analytical, intellectual environment at the New York Fed, and my work felt consequential. While I could see myself returning to the public sector eventually, I want to gain some private sector experience and have not yet pinned down exactly what that will be.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I enlisted my sister to listen to my brainstorming for the essays. I think bringing in someone who knows you really well and can push back on or emphasize certain aspects of your stories was incredibly helpful in focusing my essays. It was also a great excuse to spend a lot of time talking to my sister.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Start early — really early! I thought I had given myself lots of time but still ended up rushing to meet deadlines. 

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
There is no one part of the application in particular that I would have skipped. More generally, putting together the application took a lot of my free time. I got through it by believing that the time I was putting in – be it on introspection for the essays or sharpening my resume – would pay dividends in different contexts in the future.

What is your initial impression of Kellogg’s students/culture/community?
I’ve been really impressed by the willingness of my classmates to go all-in, right away. One of the traditions on Kellogg’s pre-orientation trips (KWEST) is to not disclose details about your background for the first few days so that you don’t form relationships based on pedigree. It sounded a little bit silly to me when I first heard about it, but we were all willing to trust the process, and as a result, KWEST delivered an incredible experience.

What is one thing you have learned about Kellogg that has surprised you?
We don’t have classes on Wednesday. I may have learned this during one of my conversations and thought it was unimportant, but I realize now that it is actually quite important. Our Wednesday break means we have class on Fridays. This keeps people in the Chicago area most weekends and contributes to a more cohesive campus culture.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The inability to visit schools kept me from feeling attached to one school based on superficial first impressions. Setting up Zoom calls and writing down a list of questions to ask current students about their experience was, in retrospect, a much richer entry point into a school’s culture than touring the facilities would have been.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
There is a lot going on at business school at any given time – it’s exhilarating, but it’s also hard to decide what to prioritize. Being intentional about what my focus is and when and where to shift that focus is a challenge. I think most first years struggle with that.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m excited to continue to meet more of my classmates and get to know everyone better. The people are great, and it’s a big part of why we are all here.

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Northwestern / Kellogg

About the Author


Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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