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Korea Times: Sharing MBA Experiences through blog
By Choo Sung-ho
Applying for an MBA can be a complicated and time-consuming process. From choosing the right schools to preparing for admission interviews, there are so many elements you should consider and prepare for. But if you have a mentor who can guide you and help you through the application process, it can be simpler than you may think.
Kim Tae-kyoung, who graduated from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in the United States in 2012, said that a piece of advice from MBA graduates helped him a lot when he was preparing his application. He wants to do the same for those seeking to study at business schools.
While studying at Kellogg School, he opened a blog called “MBA blogger,” which aims to provide MBA admission advice for those planning to pursue an MBA.
The blog also posted advice from other MBA graduates from Columbia University and the University of Michigan. Kim has been providing applicants with an essay review service for free but, recently started charging them small fees due to an increasing number of requests.
After getting his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Seoul National University in 2006, Kim began his career at Procter & Gamble (P&G), an American multinational consumer goods company.
While working as an assistant brand manager at P&G, he felt a need to learn more about diverse fields of business and decided to get an MBA which would enable him to land a corporate consulting job. He is also the winner of 1 vs. 100, a game show aired on KBS2, that pits one person against 100 for the cash prize of 50 million won. The prize money helped finance his studies at Kellogg.
Kim, also an author of an e-book on management, is currently working as a consultant at Bain & Company Korea, one of the world’s top-tier consulting firms, where he did his summer internship. In an interview with The Korea Times’ Business Focus, he shared his experiences at Kellogg School and how he prepared for his MBA application.
Q. What motivated you to pursue an MBA?
A. For me, there were two purposes of getting an MBA abroad. First was to seek new career opportunities. More specifically, I was looking for a career change from marketing to consulting. Four years in marketing at P&G taught me how to be a generalist. My job description was not limited to marketing-related work so I wanted to prove to myself that I can excel in other fields of business by getting an MBA degree. The second purpose is to be able to spend more time with my family. I couldn’t spend much time with my family while I was working in Korea. My wife and a newborn baby accompanied me to Kellogg and stayed with me for several months.
Q. Why did you choose the Kellogg School of Management over other schools?
A. The reason why I chose Kellogg is because of its reputation in the field of general business management and marketing. Kellogg has been ranked No. 1 in marketing for many years by the Financial Times and other publications. Its prominent faculty members, including Prof. Philip Kotler, a marketing guru, also drew me to Kellogg. Kellogg is known for marketing but I would say that it offers good finance and accounting programs too.
Q. How did you prepare for your admission?
A. Each business school has its own strength but you cannot know for sure until you are actually there. My strategy was to take advice from recent MBA graduates and students enrolled at various MBA schools. I gleaned information such as learning the environment and culture from them to find the right school that fitted my personal preferences. If possible, I personally recommend that applicants take a campus tour because it can give them an actual sense of what the school can offer them.
Q. Are there any tips for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), essay writing and interviews you would like to share?
A. Essay and interview questions generally fall into a few main categories such as leadership, creativity and problem-solving skills. But each school looks for different values from applicants. Therefore, understanding each business school’s characteristics is very crucial. To ace my interview, I made 20 to 30 sample questions that might be asked during the interview. And again, I asked MBA graduates and current students for feedbacks on my answers. I then thought of answers that meet each school’s preference. For GMAT, like other Korean applicants, I went to a private GMAT preparation school in Korea.
Q. How would you describe the Kellogg MBA program and its culture?
A. Kellogg has been known for its strong teamwork-oriented curricula, making students work in teams throughout the program. Even the finance classes gave group assignments, encouraging students to cooperate with one another, which is quiet rare in other business schools. In addition, students actively participate in the school projects by working closely with the faculty and administration staff.
Q. How was your family life in Kellogg?
A. The Kellogg School of Management is located in Evanston, Ill., which is about 30 minutes away from Chicago by car. I think Evanston is an ideal place for a family. It is also close to Chicago, which is full of fancy restaurants and pubs. My wife and I regularly visited there and had a lot of fun enjoying different kinds of food. Only thing I didn’t like was the freezing weather.
Q. Where did you do your summer internship during your MBA?
A. I did my summer internship at Bain & Company’s Seoul office where I got a permanent job offer after 10 weeks of internship. I also applied for other top-tier consulting firms and got offers from a few of them but, I ended up choosing Bain because I personally liked the corporate culture and supportive colleagues.
Q. Why did you choose Seoul over other international offices? How do you like the consulting job so far?
A. The role of a consultant is to provide solutions for their clients. I think language ability is one of the key roles in delivering the right solutions to them. That is why I chose the Seoul office. I work in Korea but I work with multinational groups of people and engage in global projects. I am still exposed to an English-speaking working environment. The consulting job has challenged me with a lot of responsibilities, but it has also offered me a sense of accomplishment. I am really satisfied with my decision to become a consultant.
Q. Is there any advice you would like to give to people considering doing an MBA?
A. Many MBA seekers are worried about whether an MBA degree is really worth the time and money. There is no doubt that return on investment (ROI) is an important factor when making the decision but I think investing in higher education is worth it. It cost me a lot of money but I don’t regret my decision because the benefits from having an MBA can’t be measured by ROI.