James Jackson, Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2024
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Northwestern University, Learning and Organizational Change
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, Corporate Strategy in the Agribusiness Industry and Client Consulting in the Market Research/Consumer Insights Industry
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I reached a point in my career where I had built a solid foundation. However, I wanted to pivot industries and progress into a role with more ownership over the execution of business strategies, beyond making recommendations to decision-makers. I believe an MBA will help me build on both my skillset and my network to be able to make that pivot.
Why did you choose Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Kellogg because of its culture of collaborative leadership. Factors like job placement, post-grad compensation, industry connections, and location played a role in my decision, and other top schools also checked those boxes. But the culture at Kellogg stood out for me, and I was able to get a good feel for the fit through conversations that I had with current students and alumni.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I value my ability to connect with people from all backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. I think my most differentiating contribution is being able to bridge those diverse viewpoints, challenge conventional thinking, and find creative ways to solve problems.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I played the violin for 10 years growing up.
Post-MBA career interests:
Product Management in the Tech or Media & Entertainment Industry. Think content streaming apps or similar.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Leverage resources, contacts, and programs that are focused on helping prepare prospective students for an MBA journey. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request help and advice. Develop a personal brand and story. Do research and prioritize based on your own values, goals and aspirations, rather than only rankings. That’s more than one thing, but I would absolutely do all of the above over again.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Start even earlier on application materials, I had some late nights tweaking essays as deadlines got closer. You want to put forward the best representation of yourself to admissions. Save yourself the stress and don’t wait until the last minute!
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
GMAT. It’s a grind, but don’t get discouraged if you need to take it multiple times or try the GRE instead. Utilizing test prep resources is a must. Target Test Prep helped me, but there are many other options out there to help give you practice, structure, and knowledge of where you need to focus.
What is your initial impression of the Kellogg students/culture/community?
It really is a community. From small group dinners to second-year students helping first-year students prepare for job interviews, to student-led international trips. The amount of social interaction shows the investment everyone has in building relationships and sharing experiences that extend outside of the classroom.
What is one thing you have learned about Kellogg that has surprised you?
Students have so much freedom to blaze their own trail in whatever they are passionate about. Whether it’s starting new ventures, planning and organizing events, or leading organizations and clubs. Kellogg provides the resources and atmosphere, but the experience is what you make of it, and the options are endless.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Recruiting in the tech industry. With hiring freezes, layoffs, and uncertainty happening at some of the largest firms, it’s not the easiest timing right now to pivot into the industry. But these companies will always be in need of quality talent, so I am still confident.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Kellogg has robust Leadership Development Programming. I’m looking forward to honing my skills as a leader, and learning from the renowned coaches, professors, and executives that come to lend their talents and knowledge to students.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The main impact the pandemic had was preventing more in-person interactions during my application process, with some events, conversations, and interviews having to be virtual.