Mendoza School of Business

Student Perspective: Kathryne Burns, MSBA ’20

Discovering how the program has lived up to (and exceeded) her expectations.

Prior to the start of classes, I had a few expectations of the Master of Business Analytics program at Notre Dame: An interactive classroom, late nights, and lots of statistics (as judged by the sheer weight of our textbook). Starting with a cohort of 38 people, I also expected to build a strong network of like-minded professionals that might help propel me into the next phase of my career.

With such a strong faculty and staff, I also expected that I would be well instructed and supported throughout the year. While all of that has certainly held true, what I hadn’t quite anticipated was the caliber of the people that I would come across over the course of the program. The people who I’ve encountered – both faculty and fellow students – have humbled, challenged and amazed me.

To kick off our year, we had a weeklong immersion at the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend. We spent most of our time in a seminar with Kevin Hartman, director of Analytics at Google. He did an incredible job setting the stage for our year and helping us to understand the vast landscape of analytics in our world today.

We also began our deep-dive into statistics with Professor Ken Kelley – I have never before and will never again meet someone so passionate about statistics, and it was contagious. I felt very fortunate to learn from both of them and they set a high bar in terms of the caliber of their instruction – that bar has been met a number of times by other professors in the program.

At the end of the first week, I recall Kevin stating that “you will learn just as much, if not more, from your peers as you will from us this year.” The MSBA program is designed for just that – this degree draws individuals from every discipline and industry, and we’re encouraged (and also required) to collaborate with each other.

The program directors built teams of five to six people with the goal for diversity of background, experience and perspective. While everyone in the cohort gets the chance to interact during the week-long immersions at Notre Dame, during breaks in Chicago, and in social settings, we spend the lion share of our time with our teams.

My team and I have gotten to know each other quite well and have been through a lot together in just six months’ time. We’ve celebrated some highs and navigated through some lows. We’ve learned a lot about each other’s strengths, weaknesses and quirks. We’ve had a handful of tough conversations and many good laughs. We’ve bought homes, we’ve moved, we’ve changed jobs. In short, we’re living life right alongside each other – all while trying to do our best and soak up as much as we can from this one-year intensive program.

We’ve all had our tough stretches individually, and June was certainly my month. I began the month by getting bronchitis on a business trip, and ended it traveling to a family funeral. My team was incredibly supportive during this time. When they learned of my grandfather’s passing, they ensured me that they would help out on a couple assignments and that I should go be fully present with my family. That alone meant so much to me, but their generosity did not end there. When I arrived at the service, I found a beautiful bouquet of flowers that my team had sent to express their support and condolences. It was such a simple gesture but brought me to tears – I will never forget that act of kindness.

I’ve heard the term “the Notre Dame Family” over the years in conversation with ND alums. That said, I never really “got” it and I certainly didn’t expect to find it in just one year on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. However, after six intense but fun months, I think that I get it now – our team has become like a goofy, little family of our own. There’s a lot of uncertainty for us all on the other side of this year, but I do have one expectation – that our team and our whole cohort will continue learning from and supporting each other long after this program is finished.