Business school is an incredible place, and one that exists in an alternate universe. We spend money we’ll pay back at a later date, we sit in class for only a few hours a week but yet are incredibly busy, and we manage to forge close friendships with people we just met.
There are an immeasurable number of opportunities to learn, do, and experience, that you would be hard-pressed to find two students that shared identical, or even similar, paths in their time here. One of the wonderful facets of this type of environment is the transformational impact it can have on the way you view the world, and think about yourself.
When I first arrived in Chicago, fresh-faced and anxious, I had the unnerving feeling that I wouldn’t measure up to my peers. Logically speaking, I knew that my undergrad credentials, prior work experience, and GMAT scores all fell in line with the prototypical Chicago Booth admit, but interacting and spending time with such gifted and accomplished classmates aided in my unfounded tension.
I came across the term impostor syndrome, which refers to a difficulty for high-performing individuals in accepting legitimacy of their accomplishments, and was positive that I met all criteria. I was bypassed for activities that I thought were voluntary in nature. I wrote the screenplay for a Golden Gargoyles cohort movie that included zero successful jokes. And the chief contribution I could muster to conversations around efficient markets boiled down to, “yeah, they’re cool”. Wherever I turned, I had the sinking feeling that my best just wasn’t good enough.
But ultimately, these formative months were some of the most important to my professional and personal development. I became more creative in achieving objectives and developed a stronger work ethic than I’ve ever been required to call upon before. I learned the powerful lessons of failure, and how to be successful without needing to be the best.
Sure, I’m probably still the preeminent NBA salary cap expert at the school, and as long as we’re playing on XBOX One, I doubt there are too many out there who can beat me in FIFA. But the advantage of surrounding yourself with this kind of talent pool is that those you’re looking up to provide as good of learning opportunities and collaboration as they do competition.
Ultimately, as always promised despite that initial stress level, everything worked out as intended. I’ve met so many impactful people in the Booth community that will be part of my life for years to come. I learned a tremendous amount in the classroom and landed an internship at Microsoft, a company that instrumentally impacts the way the world lives and works through cutting edge technology.
It’s possible that the best aspect of business school is that we don’t finish our time here undefeated. There are those who set a goal for who they want to be and what they want to do, and achieve it with little issue. And there are others who mapped their priorities a certain way before discovering a different set of ideals. But regardless of that final path, everyone learns how to navigate the good, the bad, and the ugly and finds a calling that they feel to be legitimately fulfilling.
The best part about this journey though, are those around you. From the people you recruit with, to the ones in your class groups, to the incredible faculty and staff at Booth who help shape your academic and career decisions, there’s always someone to turn to when you don’t have the answer you’re looking for.
This is what helps get you through the tough times to celebrate the good ones. So buckle up, enjoy the process, and best of luck. I’m looking forward to engaging with you throughout the year.