Austin Scholars Logo

Austin Scholars Logo

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Welcome New Austins!

Posted by James Zackler

Editor's Remarks: I would just like to add that when James first introduced himself to Harry and Wally last year, he said that one of his hobbies is growing mustaches. We have a lot in common.

Wasn’t that an awesome phone call on decision day when Kate (or whoever called you) said – you’re in…

…oh and by the way –

You’re getting an Austin scholarship!

I was blown away. What a way to start the Kellogg experience! It’s a pretty incredible gift we have received from the administration. Don’t forget it, and use it to enable yourself to achieve what you want to do (even if that’s different from what you wrote about). For that reason – before introducing myself, I’m leading with my most important advice first (which I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times by now):

If you haven’t already, take no more than an hour to self-reflect on what you liked / didn’t like about your previous job(s) and what you think you want to do. Write it down. Let a couple days go by. Revisit and see if you can add anything / cross anything off. Keep these thoughts handy, and throughout the school year, revisit this list (whether physically or in your head) and make sure that you update it as you gather more experiences in and outside the halls of the Jake (our beautifully ugly building). While you probably did something similar when applying to Kellogg, I urge you to not leave it as a past-tense application but to make it a living thing that you can revisit to [dis-]confirm if what it is that you are doing is what you truly want to do.

Now – with the sappy pump-up and piece of advice out of the way, a little about me and why I’ve had such a rewarding experience at Kellogg peppered with thoughts that might be helpful.

KWEST Disclaimer: I am leading KWEST Sweden/Norway so if you are on it (I don’t think any of you are) – don’t read my background section.

I was born and raised in the Bay Area, graduated from UC Berkeley, and worked in San Francisco at a hospital financial consulting firm prior to coming to Kellogg. I also devoted a significant amount of time and effort to Family House – a non-profit providing housing for families of kids receiving cancer treatments.

While at Kellogg, I wanted to have as many experiential learning opportunities as possible so that I could continue to cross things off that I did not like and further explore topics that I did. As such, my primary focus during the first year was not on grabbing a leadership position in a club but to get involved in as many interesting experiential opportunities that I could physically handle: Kellogg Marketing Competition (1st quarter), Kellogg Impact Consulting Club (Q1), Neuro Start-up Challenge (Q1/Q2), Kellogg Board Fellows (Q2/Q3), Analytical Consulting Lab (Q3), and Kellogg Rugby Club. However, in the first two quarters, these along with classes, recruiting, and “networking” became a bit overwhelming. I was so excited by the opportunity afforded at Kellogg that I overextended. I felt like Jason Segel learning to surf and that life/Kellogg was acting as Kunu telling me to do less. Just understand that when you get to Kellogg, there will be so many shiny objects in the room that you can participate in. It is all about prioritizing. Be conscious that you don’t spread yourself too thin as it is quite easy to do. And that self-reflection I suggest will help you on the prioritization front.

This summer, I am working at a firm that Kellogg’s re-branding team would love: Treacy & Company – a small management consulting firm focused solely on growth and innovation (so no cost containment projects!). It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I am quite grateful for it. My client is in the construction materials industry – so, I think a lot about wood and how to provide sustainable growth for a public company that is integrally tied to cyclical demand and market prices. Been a definite shift from before school and I’ve added/crossed off things on my list, which has been great!

Re-reading what I’ve written, I realize that it’s been quite focused on professional experiences, and I don’t want to misrepresent. So – to balance out and leave you with a more fun note – you should also start looking forward to a variant of the following incredibly fun events during your two years off from the “real world”:

·        KWEST Mystery to Fiji and Samoa:

Ski Trip to Aspen:

Spring Break Hiking the Machu Picchu Trail in Peru:

Weekend Travel for MBA Rugby Tournaments, with Games in Evanston:

The Three Charity Benefits:

CAB Events, to which you will inevitably over-commit:

This fall, I’m excited to have you join the Austin ranks and look forward to meeting those of you I have not already. In the meantime (and if you got to the bottom of this) – GO! Enjoy yourself. If it’s work or you’re already on that FUNemployment train, get recharged prior to starting this whirlwind adventure.

Best regards,
James Zackler

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