More Than a Finance School

This is the third installment of our “More Than a Finance School” series. In this edition, hear from students who are pursuing fields outside of financial services, such as energy and technology, impact investing and social entrepreneurship, and even the entertainment industry.

Erik Underwood
Undergrad major: College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University
Concentrations at Booth: Entrepreneurship and Finance
Internship: Business Development, Tesla
Full-Time role: Undecided

TBE: Why was Booth the right business school for you?
EU: For me, the idea of going to business school was a really important step for advancing my career. Up until that point, I’d worked in one relatively small company for six years, and although I was advancing well within the company, I wanted to experience other industries and understand other parts of the world and how they do business.

I looked at business schools both in the US and in Europe, but really got excited about Booth, looking at the flexible curriculum, looking at the diversity of the student body, and also it being in Chicago was a really exciting aspect to me. When considering Booth, I was really excited about the opportunity to engage with other industries, so while I had my own energy experience I was looking forward to the ability to understand about other areas of the business market.

TBE: Which classes have been the most relevant to helping you get a head start?
EU: I took the Energy and Clean Tech Lab course, which was a course focused on emerging technologies and the energy industry and renewables. It also was a great opportunity to be able to find out how these different technologies can get to market. So the fun part is the role of the students to go ahead and establish those plans and work with the partners in the real world on getting their technologies into the market through business plans and also through other fundraising opportunities and investment proposals.

TBE: How did you go about finding your current internship/full-time role?
EU: On the first day of classes actually, after orientation was over, I reached out to a second year who had interned at Tesla over the summer to hear about his experience and what recruiting was like for that company. For me, it was really great to talk to him and hear about his own connections that he had made. He immediately gave me the right people to talk to. We ended up going to see six other students over the winter, visiting Tesla’s office, and had a great time with them, which led to my internship.

Brittany Henry
Undergrad major: Business Administration
Concentrations at Booth: Finance, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management
Internship: REDF, a venture philanthropy fund.
Full-Time role: Going back to consulting for the immediate future

TBE: Why was Booth the right business school for you?
BH: When I started the process of picking an MBA program, one of the things that was important to me was finding a program that had strong social impact opportunities as well as entrepreneurial opportunities. I have a long term goal of becoming an entrepreneur, and I’m also interested in working within the impact investing space.

One of the things that was important to me was a strong academic program that had a lot of opportunities to learn and help me transition my consulting skills to MBA level roles. In addition, I also was looking for great social entrepreneurship resources, and lastly, a school with a strong culture in which I would feel really a part of it to make the most of my experience. And that was all at Booth!

TBE: Which classes have been the most relevant to helping you get a head start?
BH: One thing that really differentiates Booth from other schools and MBA programs is the opportunity to take a specific class in various ways. You may have an accounting class that’s case-based or you may have an accounting class that’s lecture-based, so you have the opportunity to take the class in the format in which you learn from the most. I participated in the Social Enterprise Lab class, which allows you to really get into the field and think through problems that are happening currently in Chicago with local social enterprises. To have a class called Social Impact wouldn’t be as meaningful without going out and really exercising the skills that you’re using to help those organizations.

TBE: How did you go about finding your current internship/full-time role?
BH: The level of interaction with local social enterprises I’ve had through Booth has been a great experience, and it helped me in my internship search process to say, “I’ve worked with organizations that are portfolio companies that my internship location is investing in.” Through various activities here at Booth, I had an opportunity to interact with two of the portfolio companies for the venture philanthropy fund in which I interned this past summer. That allowed me to speak to those experiences during the interview process, and it was really impressive to them.

Bernando Campos
Undergrad major: Comparative Literature
Concentrations at Booth: Finance and Strategic Management
Internship: Strategy, Disney ABC Television Group (DATG) at The Walt Disney Company

TBE: Why was Booth the right business school for you?
BC: As an undergrad, I majored in Literature, so most of my knowledge of business was picked up during my time as a management consultant, immediately after college. I therefore had a very clear sense that a formal business education was necessary to fill the gaps in my learning, which made Booth’s academic reputation very attractive to me. At the same time, as a somewhat undecided career switcher, I wanted the freedom to explore new subjects and the flexibility of Booth’s curriculum was invaluable in that context.

TBE: Which classes have been the most relevant to helping you get a head start?
BC: My experience with Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) was amazing and I feel so much more confident in my potential as a leader and as a team member. My Business Stats, Big Data, and Managerial Decision Modeling courses have made me feel a lot more confident in my ability to solve numbers-heavy business problems. These skills were applied to some degree during my internship, but I expect that they will be much more relevant during my full-time job. Also, my strategy and finance courses have made me feel that I have the tools and vocabulary to thrive in a wide range of settings.

TBE: How did you go about finding your current internship/full-time role?
BC: There were several internship openings for which I simply applied through the official channels, but the entertainment industry is extremely competitive and it was surprisingly hard to cut through the noise of everyone else who was applying, so those applications led me nowhere. However, two things ultimately allowed me to have success in my job search. First, I attended both Booth entertainment treks in the winter, which gave me valuable networking opportunities with my potential employers. Second, I had to build up the courage to simply reach out to industry insiders on LinkedIn and get them on the phone to tell my story. This allowed me to refine my pitch and learn how the industry walks and talks, so that by the time I got my third interview (with someone I met during the first trek), I was ready to make a good impression.

TBE: Any additional advice for prospective students thinking about their MBA?
BC: I wish I had known how quickly things happen once you’re here, especially during the first six to eight months. Taking the summer before your MBA to really do some thinking about your priorities and to lay out a plan for yourself can make things a lot less stressful.

Click here to read more of our “More than a Finance School” series.

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