Hundreds of students enroll in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business each year, so what about Kellstadt attracts them and how is Kellstadt supporting their success? In this Q&A series, we’re inviting students and recent alumni to share their perspective on why they chose to study at Kellstadt and why they’re glad they did.
Next up is Bill Dolan, a graduate of the Master of Science in Economics & Policy Analysis program. Dolan works in economic consulting. He started as an analyst at Compass Lexecon a week after completing his MSEPA degree in March 2022. Before graduate school, he worked in a similar industry but at a much smaller firm, so although not technically a career change, he says his new role does feel like it sometimes given the significantly different type of work a large company does compared to a small company in finance/economics.
Why did you choose Kellstadt?
What proceeded grad school was a random occurrence in life that knocked me off the train tracks I was on and set me on a new path. I would say, in a few words, this new path initially started with a thirst for knowledge, so I started a journey of self-education with an ambitious goal: to understand how the world works. After a while, I realized two things: first, it’s difficult to turn yourself into a scholar without help, and second, economics—specifically industrial organization—seemed to be the lens through which I was seeking knowledge, the vehicle to better help me understand how things worked.
After deciding I wanted to stay in Chicago for grad school, I researched Chicago universities’ graduate econ programs including their respective classes, and I chose Kellstadt because it had many of the industrial organization topics I wanted to learn about. In fact, my first class—Antitrust—had an optional book to complement the class, and I had already read that book. To be more concise, I felt the MSEPA program and I were a good fit for each other based on curriculum.
What did you enjoy most about Kellstadt?
The Industrial Organization classes—labeled the strategy concentration within the program—was my favorite part of my experience. It wasn’t just the topics that I loved, it was how they were structured and the man that taught most of them. Rafael Tenorio was the professor for five of the seven IO classes I took. The classes were half lecture and half student-lead discussion, which I believe is the future of education, because one day someone will study, measure and show that giving students more equity in the class makes for better learning. Rafael too, specifically, was my favorite teacher I’ve had at any level, in any form of education, so I guess that probably explains part of why I loved those classes too. He had the perfect blend of wisdom, patience and a great sense of humor. Plus, he really cared, which is what matters most.
Also, I have to say the classes not only helped me better understand the world, they taught me how to think about the world, which changed me as a person and helped me mature.
There are a handful of MSEPA professors who structure their classes as half lecture and half student-lead discussion. I had a total of eight: the IO classes plus Gabriella Bucci’s class, Economics of the Public Sector. I loved all of those classes, and I’ve never had an academic experience with a 100% approval rating until that specific type of class structure.
Giving the students a chance to reason through case studies together makes for more engaging classes, more focused students and more fun. Despite the tough days of the pandemic, we laughed a lot in those classes. They were always the highlight of my week.
Which professor has made the biggest impact on you?
I’ve spoken about the biggest impact on me being those eight classes. After that, Gabriella Bucci’s mentorship was the biggest part of my experience in the program. Simply put, she’s a wonderful person, and I’m lucky she was the director during my time in the MSEPA program. There are always a handful of professors who really care and want to help their students achieve better lives. Gabriella specifically not only cares but is a powerful personality, a great listener, and gives excellent advice on life and career.
What would you say to someone who is considering studying at Kellstadt?
I can only speak for the econ side of Kellstadt. I will say, regarding the MSEPA program, there’s great leadership that cannot be accounted for enough. There are several people who care and will lend you their time and wisdom, which again is invaluable. It’s a linear equation: you get out what you put in. If you’re focused and care, the education will transform you. You’ll be much closer to the version of yourself you want to be because you’ll learn how to think. Lastly, there’s just a bunch of wonderful people who run the program and are a pleasure to be around; it’s kind of an underrated part of life, spending your time around good people.
Learn more about Kellstadt’s Master of Science in Economics & Policy Analysis Program.
Read the other spotlights in this series:
Chaunice Dixon, an MBA alumna, shares how she discovered her interest in sports business marketing while studying at Kellstadt.
Randa Mahmud Ulankiewicz, a student in the Master of Science in Marketing Analysis program, shares how much Kellstadt’s faculty members have impacted her professional career.
Palak Patel, a graduate of the Master of Science in Business Analytics program, shares how she discovered her passion for global supply chain management at Kellstadt.