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Five Lessons Learned as a Kellogg JV

MBA students’ partners and spouses are affectionately known as Joint Ventures and play an integral role in the Kellogg community. Learn more about the benefits of the JV program

By Jennifer Spencer, JV 2020

You’ll be immersed in a wonderful and diverse community

I had so many questions. How many significant others would there be? Were others moving to Evanston with their students? To my surprise, there wasn’t just one type of partner! I quickly met people from all over the world, including Brazil, Chile, the Netherlands, Australia, and South Africa, just to name a few! There were wives, husbands, partners recently engaged, and those who were seriously dating. Some were moving to Chicago and some to Evanston. Some people were planning on long distance relationships and still wanted a way to be connected. I have never before met so many people from so many different backgrounds. This year my friends from China taught me how to make dumplings for the Chinese New Year, and my friends from Brazil made the best Brazilian food for the Taste of Kellogg event. I have met many young parents at Kellogg, and it’s so amazing to see their kids get to meet other children from around the world. If we take a trip after business school, what better way to see Tel Aviv then with our new friends from Israel or have the chance to go to Africa and visit a section mate from Nigeria? I’m learning every day, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

You can make an impact at Kellogg

Involvement in activities at Kellogg has been very important to me. I’m currently on the JV Executive team. It’s not only a great way to meet other JVs, but also a way to make their experience even better! We’ve been hosting numerous events and making sure that JVs have many opportunities to make their own connections at Kellogg. I was on DAK Exec and helped plan all of the JV events for Day at Kellogg, working alongside current students. Since JVs can join almost any organization, a few of my JV friends have joined professional clubs (e.g., Women in Business, Healthcare Club, Kellogg Marketing Club) but also some of the social clubs, including Kellogg Kids Club, Run Bike Swim, and the Wine and Cheese club.

Despite the challenge, this can be beneficial to your relationship

One of my biggest fears was the potential impact on our relationship. I had heard that it was possible to see even less of your significant other with a seemingly unlimited number of commitments. My husband worked in a field that required significant hours before school, so I was extremely excited as I realized the flexibility available to students, despite many obligations. He would not have class every day, and he was generally able to choose classes and activities based on what would work best for both of us. That said, recruiting season is busy. He was traveling for interviews, prepping for case studies, and studying for finals simultaneously. It was very important for us to be intentional about making time during this busy season, but we worked through it together, and with the support of our new dear friends in similar situations, and it ultimately helped us grow even closer.

JVs are able to take advantage of many of the same learning opportunities as students

It was very important to me that we find a school that would allow me to be meaningfully involved in the experience. After all, we were both uprooting our lives. Kellogg understood that this was a joint decision and clearly cared about both of our experiences. I was fortunate to find a career opportunity working for Northwestern just one month after arriving (the Kellogg Student Life Office helped me in the process), but I also have many friends here at Kellogg who are not able (in the case of visa restrictions) to work in the United States. Those friends have taken full advantage of travel opportunities, auditing classes and attending events at Kellogg. Sometimes we joke that it’s not obvious when someone is a JV or a student, and we call them a JVMBA! One JV friend of mine works in Chicago and takes night classes at the downtown campus after work that relevant to her career in marketing. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to amazing speakers, volunteer with Kellogg Cares, and even travel to Africa for the first time.

Evanston is the perfect combination of proximity to world-class city and tight-knit college town

Knowing I wanted to find a full-time job, I was initially concerned about Kellogg’s location. Now that I am here, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for these two years! We are taking advantage of being back in school, and Evanston makes it so easy. My husband walks to school nearly every day (I also walk to work). We are only a 20-minute walk to the Hub and less than a 10-minute walk from any of our friends. Many times I meet other JVs for coffee or have “family dinners” at each other’s apartments, and each time it’s a quick walk down the street or sometimes even down the hall! Some business schools are in larger cities and, at times, it can feel less like a community. Knowing we wanted to build strong friendships at Kellogg without knowing anyone up front, Evanston has been the perfect fit for us.

Last week, the new 1Y and MMM JVs took a trip into Chicago. It’s only a 25 minute train ride away! We hopped on the train and headed into the city. We walked through Millennium Park, took pictures in front of Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) and had lunch on a perfect summer day! The next day, a few JVs got together at the beach here in Evanston. Northwestern’s campus is right on the water and close to great walking trails and beaches with a gorgeous view of the city. It was such a fun week with opportunities to meet other JVs and talk about careers and life in general as we are together at this unique stage of life.