Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is a dream school for many of my MBA clients. And why not? The program features a top-notch marketing and general management curriculum, the standard-issue highly accomplished but well-rounded student body, and what’s viewed as the most people-focused culture among top business schools. Today an increasingly popular Kellogg offering is the Global Initiatives in Management program, or GIM. Each year over 500 Kellogg students—from the full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs—participate in GIM, “an intensive global business leadership course designed by students” (according to the school’s website). For GIM, student teams plan a 10-week curriculum including two full weeks in the country of focus for field study that typically includes company visits and interviews with top managers, industry experts, and government officials.
According to the website, recent GIM topics have included tourism in South Africa, E-commerce in Thailand, and microenterprise in Ghana. Given the value of insights regarding global business practices and specific industries across nations—not to mention the value of spending two weeks in a foreign land with a group of dynamic classmates—GIM is a very appealing program for Kellogg-minded applicants, and one mentioned often in my clients’ essays. But unfortunately that mention frequently goes something like this: “I would love to participate in GIM.” Or maybe, “I would be very interested in a GIM trip to China, given the increasing importance of that country to the global economy.”
Don’t do that.
Instead, make much more clear both the value of the GIM program to you and what you can bring to GIM. For example, are you an aspiring product manager with pharma experience? Then you could talk about the appeal of a healthcare-focused GIM trip to India to understand the challenges of marketing and distributing pharmaceuticals, biotech products, and medical devices in a fast-growing and increasingly de-regulated economy. To the trip you would bring insights from your pharma experience, including knowledge of US-based marketing strategies and how well these might apply overseas. Remember, GIM trips are student-run, so you should portray yourself as someone who could conceptualize and initiate a specific trip/curriculum. Spell that out: “I would love to initiate a GIM trip to country A to study topic B, which would provide great insights into industry X, which I hope to enter.”
My fellow Accepted editors and I can help you incorporate Kellogg’s GIM program into dynamic and engaging essays that show your fit with the school. In general, the more carefully you construct your essays, the more likely you may find yourself studying Japan’s wireless phone market in Osaka, or microfinance in South Africa, or fast food trends in Beijing . . . on your Kellogg GIM trip.