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Real Humans of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2024

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Sam Elmer, Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Flower Mound, TX, USA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Brigham Young University
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4.5 years, Airline Industry

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I was at a crossroads at my job, wondering whether I wanted to pursue a career in the airline industry or move on to something different. For a variety of reasons, I felt that my future was not at a major commercial airline, and I felt that an MBA could give me the education and network necessary to pivot my career.

Why did you choose Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Kellogg is an elite business school and offers all the things top MBA programs offer – a premier education, high-achieving peers, and an excellent alumni network. What separated Kellogg, for me, was the type of people I found at Kellogg who aligned with its “high-impact, low-ego” ethos. People seemed legitimately nice and focused on team over individuals.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I would say my curiosity drives a lot of connections across groups on campus. I love to not only meet but become friends with people from different backgrounds, given my own experiences living around the world. In that way, I hope that I help to bind my class closer together.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I have shared a room uninterrupted since I was 3 years old – first with my little brother, then with roommates, now with my wife.

Post-MBA career interests:
PE portfolio operations, Corporate strategy

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Take time to reflect on my career to date and what I want to do moving forward based on my strengths and interests.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
NOT wait until 2 months before the application deadline to get started on drafting application materials.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Interview prep was not fun, but it was manageable for 3 reasons: 1. I had already reflected on my work experiences and only had to trim those key experiences into digestible answers. 2. I tried not to overthink it. 3. My Kellogg interviewer was so warm, unlike more dry interviewers from other schools.

What is your initial impression of the Kellogg students/culture/community?
The Kellogg community is very diverse – not just in terms of race, gender, and country of origin but also on scales like education and previous work experience. Kellogg students are high performers – you don’t get in without being pretty sharp – but they are the kind of down-to-earth smart people you want to work and be friends with.

What is one thing you have learned about Kellogg that has surprised you?
There’s a club for every group you may identify with or want to learn more about – cultural, religious, and industry groups. There’s even a group for people with names like Nick – Nicholas, Nikita, Nikolai, or just plain Nick! Apparently they’re making swag!

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Finding a job! Quitting your job to go to school is great, but job hunting is not my favorite thing.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Continuing to connect with my classmates. Developing lasting friendships might be the most valuable piece of the MBA experience, and I’m already enjoying making connections with the many good people here.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I maybe would have applied to be part of the Class of 2023 had the pandemic not happened, but applying with another year of experience was helpful, I think.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.