“Sleep”? What’s That?? Two Days in My Life. Uncut.

Life at Booth can be busy, exciting, and inspiring all at once. This week on The Booth Experience, first-year student Matt Tracey does an excellent job of providing a glimpse into two of his action-packed days.

I’m often asked what business school is like. As a prospective student and applicant, I routinely asked this question… I wanted details! This post is my attempt to provide details. All of them. I give you an unfiltered look at two highly representative days I’ve enjoyed here as a first-year at Booth: one during Orientation in September and one during regular classes in November.

First, some very quick background about me. Born/raised in Colorado. College at Vassar in New York. Worked in public infrastructure finance in California for about 4 years prior to Booth. Love macroeconomics…and Booth is the epicenter of all things macro. Post-MBA career interest: macro investing.

Let’s begin with Friday, September 7, the third day of first-year-student Orientation (a day that would prove quite characteristic of the Orientation experience!).
6:45am: Alarm sounds. About time to go work out. Sit up in bed. Nope, on second thought, no way I’m going anywhere. Last night with Booth friends was…umm…late.
7:30am: Wake up for real. Shower, throw down some eggs, and pack into the Millennium Park Plaza elevator along with a host of other eager first-years en route to the 8:20am Metra train down to Hyde Park.
8:50am: Walk into Harper Center in awe of the building’s energy; as I move about the bustling mass of students in the Winter Garden I hear echoes of conversations ranging from how awesome the dining hall’s chicken sandwiches are to how stimulating Erik Hurst’s Macroeconomics class is. (Do I really go here? Do I deserve to be here? Unreal.)
9:00am: Become reacquainted with just how much business school costs (yikes!) during a helpful presentation on financial aid. (Don’t worry, by this point I’m already convinced that Booth is worth every last penny…and then some.)
10:00am: Faculty panel. Booth professors present on courses and concentrations. At this point, I’ve never been so pumped to be here. Can’t wait for classes to start. Booth rocks. Best faculty on earth. (And they’re more than researchers—they’re unbelievable teachers too. I was pleasantly stunned by Alan Bester’s introductory statistics course. My friends think my newfound love of regression is a bit creepy.)
12 Noon: Grab food at Harper Center…informal lunch with faculty in the Winter Garden. Between professors and classmates, I’ve never been in a room with so much brain power…ever. I’m realizing that there is a lot more here than mere brains, however. People are surprisingly open…they really “let you in”. I like.
1:45pm-4:00pm: Miscellaneous orientation activities (academic advising, Chicago public transit primer, down time for socializing). Reconnect with an Admit Weekend friend who was a fighter pilot prior to Booth (…the amazing range of backgrounds at Booth is both humbling and mesmerizing, all at once).
4:00pm: Walk to the train (Metra). Scramble home. Throw on swimsuit. Hop on bus. Head to North Avenue Beach for football and beach volleyball with classmates. Glorious day! Who knew Chicago has beaches like this?! Where am I…Miami??
6:15pm: Bus back to apartment. Shower, slam down a PB&J and a protein shake, and head out to pregame at a friend’s apartment…ultimately en route to one of the most memorable social events during Orientation…neon party! That’s me in the skinny pink tie (…no, I didn’t own the tie before the event…but on the contrary I must confess that the sailboat shorts were not an ad hoc purchase).

8:00pm: What happens at neon party stays at neon party. Come here and you’ll find out.
2:45am: Ibuprofen and then sleep…at last.

Once classes started in late September, the fun only intensified—but changed form a bit. Perhaps my day on Wednesday, November 28 will paint a picture for you.
6:30am: Wake up, turn on CNBC, make/eat breakfast (green smoothie, eggs, quinoa with chipotle salsa).
7:30am: Make final revisions to “macro investing” pitch to be presented to my peers in the Investment Management Group later in the morning. Spend 15 minutes updating myself on the EU’s latest efforts to resolve the ongoing Greek debt crisis.
8:30am: Shower. Suit up. Do some last-minute online prep for my 10am informational interview with an investment-management professional. (Thrilled that I’ve found so many alums to speak with about my niche interest, “macro investing”.)
9:50am: Leave apartment—running behind. Jog-walk down Michigan Ave and over to La Salle St. to meet a corporate contact for an informal talk about my career goals.
10:00am: Informational interview. Love how generous Booth alums are with their time and insights.
10:50am: Scramble to Millennium Station for the 11:15am train to Hyde Park. Read The Economist on train. (Here’s to hoping that the French relax their labor-market rigidities…).
11:40am: Arrive at Harper Center. Run quick errand to mail folder, then bolt to the Investment Management Group meeting. Deliver macro presentation and listen to peers’ “stock pitches” for an hour and a half or so. My peers’ sharpness challenges me routinely…in a very motivating and non-threatening way. They’re awesome.
1:30pm: Grab lunch. Salad bar today: Asian chicken, green peas, artichoke hearts, beets, mushrooms, lentil salad, a pineapple slice and two strawberries (…no, that doesn’t all come in one premade dish; I’m weird).
1:50pm: Read my case assignment for Competitive Strategy (Nintendo). Interesting read. I have a ton of thoughts, but—if history is any guide—I know my thinking will be revolutionized come Friday’s class discussion…amazing things happen when you put about 60 tremendously insightful people in a room together and say “Go”.
4:30pm: Meet with Microeconomics study group (4 others) in Harper Center to work on our final paper; topic: U.S. labor-market dynamics.
5:30pm: Walk down the hall to listen to a Booth-sponsored talk on the current state of the economy, given by Raghuram Rajan (a Booth economics legend). Seems like every other day there’s a free talk featuring a prominent Booth thought-leader. We are so, so spoiled.
6:30pm: Work for another hour or so on group Microeconomics paper; group then parts ways. I’m actually momentarily caught up on schoolwork (keyword = momentarily), so I head off to Booth Wine Club tasting event.
7:30pm: Attend wine-tasting event in the downtown area. Awesome wines and cheeses, but sure to kill my productivity for the night.
9:30pm: Head home. Call my sisters for a quick hello on the way. Upon arrival at my apartment building, stop by a friend’s place for a 15-minute chat.
10:15pm: Catch up on emails (there are many, per the usual deluge). Read The Wall Street Journal until my brain no longer functions, then turn on Sportscenter for a few minutes before I become too useless even to follow the TV. Sleep.
2:15am: Pop out of bed, startled, as somehow I’ve miraculously remembered that I’d forgotten to respond to a time-sensitive, job-related email. (If it’s not one thing, it’s surely another!)

There you have it. The average day is about this packed with stuff. I’m always flying around doing something—but life is a very, very, very good, interesting, enlightening, and energizing type of “busy”. In fact, I’ve never been happier to be so busy. With three months in the books, I’ve realized not only how right I was about all the great things I came to believe about Booth during the application phase but also just how much richness exists here that cannot be conveyed and must, instead, be experienced firsthand. I realize, in writing this post, that there really isn’t anything about my life here that I don’t like. Occasionally I have trouble sleeping at night because I am so excited to get up and get going the next morning; other times, I’m so exhausted that I fall asleep in seconds.

Wishing you all happy holidays,
Matt Tracey

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