There was little doubt Grant Kitcoff, MBA’19, would attend Indiana University. Or that he would pursue law.
His grandparents and parents met at IU, and it was always Grant’s goal to attend law school after seeing his grandfather’s work as an attorney representing Indianapolis newspapers, drafting legislation for open record laws and government transparency. Grant was inspired by the legal profession within his family. But he realized he needed to take a slightly different path.
“After the first semester of law school, I realized law practice wasn’t for me,” he said. “I enjoyed learning about it, but after completing several informational interviews with attorneys, I didn’t see myself enjoying the actual practice of law.”
Grant always knew he wanted to earn an MBA, so he was happy to discover he could earn a
dual JD/MBA degree through the Kelley Evening MBA Program and the IU McKinney School of Law. It appealed to his interest in business and his desire to finish 20 years of non-stop schooling.
“The dual degree program was too good an opportunity to pass up. I could take fewer credit hours and pay less over time than earning each degree separately, while only adding one year to my law studies,” he said. “Plus, law and business are two sides of the same coin: Business drives a lot of law, and law shapes a lot of business. Understanding both fields seemed useful.”
Grant moved quickly. During his second semester of law school, he attended a Kelley Evening MBA information session in January and took his GMAT a week after his first-year spring finals. Earning two rigorous graduate degrees at the same time over the next two years would prove challenging, but Grant knew it would be worth the effort to gain the differentiation of an attorney MBA.
“That’s been the most important return on my investment in the MBA: the confidence to speak up when there is a business question,” he said. “Even if you don’t know the answer, you become confident you can figure it out, and that’s probably been the greatest takeaway.”
Grant found the simultaneous experience of law school and business school to be a unique dichotomy.
“Law school and business school are complete opposites: Law school is graded on a curve, so it’s competitive. The MBA, however, is cooperative, and we learn from one another,” he said.
“Before I enrolled at Kelley, I read that half of what you learn in an MBA is from your classmates. I’ve found that especially true with the Evening MBA Program because we’re part-time students together. Working with a team when you don’t interact daily forces you to be more flexible and savvier with digital communications, planning online meetings and attending online class. I could often tell the difference between myself and students who hadn’t had those experiences.”
Like many JD/MBA or MD/MBA dual degree students, Grant didn’t have much professional experience because he’d gone straight from undergraduate studies to graduate school. The experiential, hands-on learning opportunities available in the Kelley Evening MBA Program were critical to his learning style and to building his résumé.
“I participated in two corporate consulting projects in finance and entrepreneurship, which are tailor-made for someone like me. I can work for a company and complete a real-life project without having to squeeze in an internship,” he said. “Applying concepts in that real-world situation is the best way for me to learn. Because I can do real work.”
During the finance project he completed with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Grant launched an externship program for the agency and developed a strategy for IEDC to proactively target companies to attract investment to Indiana. Both were useful, lasting projects that created real value for the client.
Grant also took advantage of the international consulting course, an opportunity to gain hands-on consulting experience in an emerging global market. Grant’s class studied the destination of Johannesburg, South Africa and, then, traveled there for a 10-day immersive experience consulting with a local small-business owner. Grant and his team worked to solve a supply chain challenge for Khulani, a fruit stand operator, and the team presented their findings with the rest of the class on the last day of the trip.
“The consulting trip occurred fairly early in my MBA experience, so it was a crash course in business for me,” he said. “I didn’t have any experience doing that kind of work, but I learned on the fly. It was the best way for me to launch into the Evening MBA Program.”
Grant has always been a natural leader. He excelled in academics and was the quarterback of his high school football team. But he discovered through a weekend business management simulation at Kelley—during which MBA students select executive roles and simulate solving a real-life business challenge—that he stepped back from leading when he wasn’t familiar with the landscape.
“The weekend management simulation was an excellent experience. I didn’t say much because I was watching what more-experienced classmates were doing, and I didn’t feel confident to speak up,” he said. “I thought I was there to learn from them, but a lot of the peer feedback suggested otherwise. ‘You have things to say; you should say them,’ they said. This experience didn’t turn me into a leader, but it helped me apply my leadership skills in new ways.”
Throughout the weekend management simulation, Grant also received professional development and career coaching. While Kelley Evening MBA students are testing out leadership roles and discovering strengths and areas for growth, they are simultaneously guided in using those new insights to chart their professional paths.
“The curriculum flows really well. Kelley truly takes you from moment to momentum by structuring the Evening MBA Program so that you have the confidence to do whatever you want to do,” he said. “Whatever I decide to do professionally, I know I’ll be ready for it.”
Grant feels he finished graduate school with a well-rounded experience that has prepared him for any professional direction he decides to pursue. He says the dichotomy of law school and business school created a symbiotic learning experience.
“There are two types of people in the world: people who make things happen and people who ask, ‘What just happened?’” he said. “The way I approach law is to look at what’s happened in the past and how it’s impacted society. With what I’ve learned at the Kelley School of Business, I can drive change in the future. The ability to look both ways will help me to stand out professionally.”