Getting into Kellogg: Tips from Lauren Brown ’19

As we continue through application season, Inside Kellogg checked in with recent alumna Lauren Brown MMM ’19 to see what tips she has for applicants.

What strategies, tips, and advice can you share on your experience applying to and being admitted to Kellogg School of Management?

Get to know the students and alumni. One of Kellogg’s biggest assets is its pay-it-forward culture. You will not only get to see what makes Kellogg so special but you will naturally reach out to people who share your interests and deliver relevant information when you answer the “Why Kellogg?” essay.

When I lived in Boston, I reached out to an alum who led product design strategy at a large firm. She generously set aside time to grab a coffee and give me a tour of her office. What should have been 30 minutes turned into 90 as we discussed her career trajectory, her Kellogg experience, and my professional aspirations. Through this conversation I learned about the MMM program, as she not only received her MBA from Kellogg but her MS from Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering. As her career was one I hoped to emulate, I knew that the MMM program could be the critical experience that would allow me to pivot.

Those who apply to the dual-degree MMM program are certainly a self-selecting group. While on paper the students appear to be polar opposites (from painters to aerospace engineers), in mindset they share a similar view: as business challenges become increasingly complex and non-linear, solutions rely less on deductive/inductive reasoning and more on human-centered design.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in getting into the program? 

A high GMAT score is clearly an important piece of any MBA application. While schools supposedly look at the entire application, I couldn’t help stressing over my score especially as I heard through the grapevine that the MMM average was higher than any MBA program. Given my ambition to be part of the MMM program, I spent many hard-earned hours to increase my score.

How did you overcome this challenge? 

As a former professional athlete, I created a training regimen. I woke up at 5 a.m. every weekday, walked to my local coffee shop in Boston, and studied the GMAT for two hours before work. In the evenings, I recorded my performance and created a training program for the next day. I did this by coding every practice book question into an Excel file and categorizing each by topic and type. I would then note the number of times I had answered the question correctly and would finally identify topic areas for improvement for the following day. Additionally, I knew that a visual representation of my hard work would keep my rudder straight leading me to put up a poster in my room with a 12×10 grid. Each box represented one hour studied, and my goal was to reach 120 hours total given advice I had received. My reward for every hour studied was tagging a gold star sticker. Over time, I could see my effort gaining momentum which eventually yielded a score I was proud of.

What advice do you have for candidates to get into the business school? 

Visit our beautiful new campus! Just camp out in Gies Plaza and you will immediately pick up on the Kellogg culture of community and collaboration. This will surely serve you well in your essay and video responses!

What do you recommend that Kellogg applicants avoid doing?

Kellogg celebrates diversity in background and thought. Don’t shy away from who you are. Rather, celebrate your authentic views. I remember feeling like I needed to sound a certain way in my essays. When I had enough trusted friends read my responses, they helped me realize that what set me apart (my creative background) was lost. Avoid at all cost! I threw out my initial drafts and finally relaxed into who I was and what I actually wanted to achieve.

How did an MBA at Kellogg helped you achieve your goal of transitioning into tech?

Before business school, I had a fairly creative career beginning as a professional ballerina and ending as an advertising strategist. I consistently contributed to innovation initiatives and found myself spending 40 hours per week outside of work contributing to OpenIDEO design-thinking challenges. Up until that point, my process to uncover consumer-centric business opportunities had been self-directed. I sought a more robust grounding to help me transition from advertising to big tech.

Northwestern’s dual-degree MMM program provided me with the acumen that enabled me to switch both industries and roles.

For students seeking to move into tech, Kellogg’s MBA has a notable benefit given its roots in the marketing sector. Tech product management roles sourced inspiration from CPG’s brand management, which is why Kellogg’s curriculum prepares students to successfully pivot into this industry. As an additional benefit, the MMM program’s analytical rigor and design-thinking coursework empowers MMM students to determine the root driver in product desirability.

The MBA and MS in Design Innovation helped me hone my creative background through whole-brained thinking.