By Harsh Singh, MBA’24
As I eagerly anticipate my upcoming internship this summer in the bustling Big Apple, I can’t help but look back on the incredible whirlwind that was my first year as an MBA student. Today, I proudly refer to myself as a second-year MBA student at the prestigious Kelley School of Business. However, just a year ago, I found myself bidding farewell to my employer, a salad bowl of emotions swirling within me. The decision to take this leap of faith—leaving behind my country and my family and immersing myself in a foreign land for a truly global experience—both thrilled and frightened me in equal measure.
In July of 2022, I embarked on an extraordinary journey that spanned three flights and lasted a grueling 32 hours. It transported me from the hurried streets of Mumbai to the serene and picturesque town of Bloomington, nestled in the heart of Indiana. The constant symphony of traffic and street noises were replaced by the soothing chorus of birds chirping every morning, accompanied by a profound silence that enveloped the surroundings. I transitioned from a life devoid of public transport to complete reliance on the town’s bus service as I adjusted to the quaint pace of my new environment.
As the intensity of the case competitions and Core coursework ramped up, I began to experience a hint of culture shock. Thankfully, my newly-formed Kelley family, comprising my incredible Core team and newfound friends, came to my rescue. Their support and camaraderie helped me find my footing and propel me forward. The Core phase was akin to drinking water out of a fire hose, with an overwhelming number of assignments and deliverables bombarding me daily. However, upon zooming out, I realized how each subject and task seamlessly intertwined into a comprehensive and integrated learning experience. Concepts such as prospect theory and risk aversion from critical thinking intertwined with positioning strategies in marketing, while supply and demand shed light on the bullwhip effect in operations. The culmination of the Core phase was marked by a thrilling case competition, where my Core team and I made it to the finals. Presenting our strategy to a company, with my entire cohort as witnesses, was an exhilarating and novel experience for me.
Beyond the confines of the classroom, the multitude of student-run clubs at Kelley ensured that there was never a dull moment. From engaging in outdoor activities like kickball and organizing tailgates, treks, boat days, potlucks, and wine nights, to participating in casing workshops, networking events, and behavioral mock interviews, my interests were catered to and expanded upon. One such interest was the wonderful sport of pickleball that I fell in love with and have played ever since. These events struck a perfect balance between academic pursuits and extracurricular activities, enabling me to forge deeper connections with my classmates. The tight-knit nature of the Kelley MBA program fostered a strong sense of community and camaraderie, allowing me to form lasting bonds with incredible individuals.
During the winter break, I encountered my first-ever snowstorm, which held me captive at home for almost a week. The mesmerizing sight of a sea of white outside my window became a cherished moment, often shared with my mother during video calls back home in India. Following the snowstorm, I embarked on a trip to Michigan to visit a dear friend and classmate, Moksh Karira. Spending time with his family and witnessing the excitement of the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl offered a refreshing departure from the routine New Year celebrations I was accustomed to.
Returning to Bloomington after the trip, the second semester was characterized by perseverance and determination in the face of a volatile job market. It was a time to reap the rewards of the networking efforts from the previous semester and showcase my potential to prospective employers. This semester also presented opportunities to explore elective courses, work with different teams, and manage time effectively. Additionally, I had the privilege of participating in the GLOBASE program, a global consulting project class at Kelley. Working with a skincare start-up in Botswana, we devised a distribution and marketing strategy to raise awareness among consumers and retailers. This hands-on experience allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I gained throughout the MBA program. A spring break visit to Gaborone provided a cultural immersion experience in Botswana and South Africa, further broadening my global perspective.
As the semester progressed, I embraced the role of club leadership, spearheading the Food Club and Soccer Club. These positions allowed me to further bring together my peers outside of the classroom, organizing events such as Brownie Blind Taste Tests, an Asian BBQ evening, and a soccer match between the Latin MBAA and African MBAA. One of the highlights of the semester was the gala, an evening of celebration where we dressed up and reminisced about our journey as second-year MBA students.
In closing, I must express my heartfelt appreciation for the special individuals who have made this journey unforgettable. To my support system, my friends, and confidants—Moksh Karira, Alexie Burr, and Manogna Dhodda—I am immensely grateful. Though the journey is far from over, the promising start and the countless experiences I have gained thus far give me confidence that the rest will follow suit.