There’s no single path. By this, I mean there is not just one way to find success (insert your definition of success here — maybe it’s getting into Kelley; maybe it’s landing your dream job; maybe it’s getting out of bed by 8:00 a.m. every morning). Regardless, it’s an important lesson to remember for anyone who is out there chasing their dreams.
As a second semester senior at Kelley, I often find myself in mentorship roles giving small bits of advice and encouragement to younger students as they tirelessly study to get their next A’s or anxiously prepare to nail their internship interviews. Recently, though, my senior friends and I have experienced too many underclassmen asking the wrong question. They’ll ask, “What classes should I take and which organizations should I get involved with so I’m well-positioned to work at XYZ company?” Every single time, I tell them that there’s no single path to reach their goals and I urge them not to fall into the trap of doing things just because everyone else is doing them. Rather, I encourage them to commit to growing themselves by getting involved where their passions and skills intersect with an opportunity to constitute positive change.
I have also fallen into the wrong mindset at times throughout my journey at the Kelley School of Business, but I’d like to expand on my experiences to share how I have followed my passions and convince you that there are many ways to reach personal success.
As I mentioned in my introductory post, I grew up on a small cattle farm in Vincennes, Indiana, where I rode horses, drove tractors (my high school had “drive your tractor to school day”), and learned how to auctioneer from my grandpa. My rural upbringing was unique compared to many of my hometown friends, though, as my father is an airline pilot. I had the opportunity to travel internationally at an early age and also trained for and received my private pilot’s license during my junior year. My travels allowed me to gain a better understanding of the world and taught me the importance of giving back to my own community, which I did through my involvement in 4-H, Teen Court, and National Honor Society. As you can see, I had a wide array of interests and experiences growing up, and every Kelley student has a similar, yet unique, story of their own.
Upon graduating from high school and being accepted to Kelley, I came to Bloomington with my mind set on studying finance and management. During my first semester, I got involved as an intern for the President of IU’s student government association and received a seat on IU Funding Board, a committee that disburses roughly $400,000 to student organizations putting on events and programs at IU. Involvement in these two organizations allowed me to better understand IU as a whole and gave me a broader perspective beyond just the business school. In my second year at Kelley, I became very interested in the consulting industry, so I started a student-led consulting organization, Crimson Consulting, that provides research and advice to entrepreneurs in Bloomington. I also switched my majors to finance and economic consulting and got involved with Out at Kelley, the school’s LGBTQ+ student group. Then, during the summer, I interned for Oracle in an internal analytics role where I learned how to analyze datasets and work well with interns from other universities.
After all of these exciting experiences, I returned to campus my junior year with my sights set on landing my dream internship at a consulting firm. Fortunately, Kelley boasts a fantastic alumni network that helped me prepare for my interviews and introduced me to leaders at their firms. I interviewed with more than ten companies over several weeks, and my very last interview of the semester happened to be final rounds with McKinsey & Company, my dream firm. I went to the office feeling prepared yet extremely nervous. Three hours later, with luck on my side, I left the office smiling from ear-to-ear with a verbal internship offer to join McKinsey.
For me, this represents one component of my success at Kelley; however, I am telling you about my journey not as a guide for you to follow to reach your career goals. Rather, I’m giving you one unique example out of the thousands of Kelley success stories that my peers achieve each year. I’ve worked extremely hard, built strong relationships, and followed my passions while here at Kelley to create an experience that has been right for me. But as I’ve said, there’s no single path here at Kelley — or in life, so go out and build your own unique path that’s right for you!