By Ben Sermersheim, 3/2 MBA Class of 2021
Final grades are posted, the diploma is on its way, and I moved back to my hometown. Supposedly I graduated, but no matter how often people tell me “congratulations,” it doesn’t feel like the right time to close this chapter of my life. While my time at IU unfolded differently than my original plan, I couldn’t be happier with the results – especially the opportunity to complete the 3/2 MBA.
Originally, I came to IU as an Entrepreneurship major and wanted to graduate as soon as possible. College can be fun, but I wanted to get out of the classroom and either join or found a small company and start making an impact right away. I sought out “impact” at IU by heavily involving myself with various organizations and was even president of two groups simultaneously during my sophomore year, amongst other positions. Junior year was filled with more interesting classes, and plenty of fun networking events where I met countless incredible people. At that time, I felt I was ready to graduate and that my college experiences had already prepared me to set myself apart and achieve my career goals. While I was eager to put my new knowledge to practice, I still wanted to give proper consideration to all my options.
I had heard of the Graduate Accounting Programs throughout my time at IU, but what sold me on the 3/2 program was Pat Hopkins’ and Dave Greene’s pitch describing the rigor of the program and the exceptional alumni it created. The MBA degree was certainly tempting as well. While I hadn’t originally intended to be an Accounting major, I knew the program would let me take courses in a wide variety of subjects, with the accounting focus itself enabling me to more truly speak the language of business. As I learned about the various formative experiences in the program (Dave’s infamous A509 case, Capstone Simulation, CFO Round Table, etc.), I became eager to begin. I thought it would be a nice way to top off my academic experience – little did I know how truly impactful these two years would be for me. Without a doubt, pursuing the 3/2 program was the best decision of my life.
I could easily fill a book with all the good things I have to say, but I’ll do my best to keep it short – if I could do the program again, add on another pile of debt and receive no additional degrees or certifications, I would. Kelley is an incredible school with engaged alumni, rigorous courses, invested professors, driven students, and a plethora of opportunities to engage with and learn from active professionals and industry leaders. Yet in every way, from caliber to concentration, the 3/2 program raised the bar by multiple levels.
Through the 3/2 crucible, I became a far more capable and refined version of myself. While the undergraduate version of myself likely would have been fine… I feel that the amount of growth I have experienced in the two years of grad school was far greater than my entire undergrad career. After being able to grow with and be taught by such gifted individuals, there are no words to truly express my gratitude. And here I find myself, closing the final chapter of my “scheduled” life. There are no more relatively clear-cut paths to follow, no new academic level I must pursue. With the skills and network I’ve developed, I feel ready to take on anything I may face in this ambiguous “career” phase of life. I feel calmer and more confident than I could have imagined a few years ago.
I will be beginning my career in Chicago with KPMG in their Deal Advisory and Strategy practice and look forward to putting everything I’ve learned to use. In getting me to this point, I have to give thanks to all the incredible people who have given their time to the program in making my experience what it was. Especially noteworthy are all the alumni who go out of their way to help current students, making time in their busy careers with no expectation of compensation. All of you have set a tremendous example to live by, and I look forward to being an active alumnus as well.
In the same spirit, if you have questions about my experiences or I can help you in any way, please reach out! I look forward to being of help.