At some point during my admission interview, my interviewer asked, “Would you describe yourself as an extrovert?” Full disclosure, we were 30 minutes into the conversation and I’m fairly certain I had given answers that led him to realize how introverted I was and he was likely looking for my response just to see if I knew myself. My response was a definite NO. Followed by very detailed explanation of why I thought being extroverted was overrated. Spoiler alert: I was admitted, but I spent a lot of time before that call wondering how I could have been so careless. And even after I knew Booth wanted me, that didn’t stop me from worrying about the kind of experience I would have once I got there.
In the time since I’ve been at Booth, I’ve come to recognize that despite the impressions created to the onlooker outside the business school environment, Introverts can and do thrive in business schools, particularly at Booth and here’s why:
Introspection: The only required course at Booth is LEAD. Everyone who has taken that class will tell you that it involves a heavy amount of introspection. And introverts rock at introspection; we have tons of experience here. Aside from LEAD, developing your leadership skills requires knowing yourself, your strengths and your growth opportunities.
Depth rather than Breadth: As an introvert, I’ve always had few friends but with deep relationships. Depth of relationships is one of the key advantages of this personality and most people come to business school to build a network that lasts them the rest of their lives. This, I believe means more depth than breadth. Although at Booth, I have a lot of friends, which is not due to anything I’ve done or failed to do, but is a testament to the fact that Boothies are very interested in building relationships with other Boothies. Combined with my interests in building deep relationships, I now have both breadth and depth in my friendships.
Flexibility: The flexibility of Booth extends beyond choosing your classes into choosing what works for you and deciding how your MBA experience will unfold. This covers what clubs to get involved in and at what capacity, what kinds of trips to go on and with whom, who to ‘cohort’ with – on what level, in what regards. This makes finding other introverts a bit easier and getting a group together that likes the same thing is a lot more plausible. It also generally makes being an introvert easier (as long as you can deal with FOMO) since I really do not have to do anything unless I really want to and cannot talk myself out of it.
That said, it doesn’t mean that I stay in my comfort zone or shy away from activities that will improve my abilities. In the year and half that I’ve been at Booth, I’ve done things that would send pre-MBA me into hyperventilation. Very recently, I realized that I have started initiating conversations with people I was just meeting for the first time – Yay me! What I’m trying to say here is that business schools, especially Booth, have room for introverts even if like me, you have no interest in becoming extroverted.
P.S. I planned to write about my recent trip in this post but I got sidetracked. Maybe next time… stay tuned.