Every year, around 400 First Years (1Ys) go on a Random Walk with a group of classmates they will have just met for the first time. The international excursions combine cultural experiences, nightlife, relaxation, and outdoor adventures to flex Boothies out of their comfort zone and offer opportunities to form lasting friendships (fellow TBEer Eli and I both went on the Mystery Random Walk our first year).
Each group of 12-14 1Ys is accompanied by four Second Year trip leaders (~120 from the entire 2Y class). While some of our classmates may think we leaders just can’t let go of our first year—after going to work this summer, I never want school to end—and want to relive our adventures from last year; I can assure you a little more goes into guiding the experience than just doing another random Random Walk.
2Y leaders Eli, Carson, and JD of The Booth Experience team hang out in Hong Kong on the first night of Random Walk Vietnam and Random Walk Indonesia.
Let me walk you through our timeline of Random Walk planning…
January – The group of four leaders receive an initial itinerary right when we get back to school from Winter Break and do a knowledge transfer lunch with last year’s group. They tell us what worked well and what didn’t (e.g., an early morning bus tour after clubbing in Hong Kong got nixed early). We then work with a tour agency to plan new stops, activities, and deletions from that initial itinerary.
February – The first weekend in February has the First Day Random Walk Fair. After a jampacked evening at the top of the Aon Center and Mercer afterparty, we send off tired future Boothies with brunch and exciting pitches on why they should come on our Random Walk. (Many pieces of flair and costumes are passed down through the years.)
Eli was OOT that weekend so we replaced him with his RW Mystery twin.
April – Rise and repeat for the second First Day Random Walk fair. The competition for signups has increased this year as there are 32 available trips (compared to last year’s 30). I use all of my tactics as a former tech conference booth bro to pique interest with the crowd 😉
May – After two rounds of signups, we receive an initial list of first years and proceed to social media stalk them—mostly kidding. Given the makeup of our groups, we start to ideate on activities and surprises that won’t be on the agenda. For example, knowing I had a snake lover with us this year meant a special stop on our trip (enough said). We become intimately familiar with TripAdvisor and annoying to friends who live in the country.
June to July – After finishing our last round of exams and starting internships, we start communicating with the group to build excitement. Social media pages are created and we pepper the group with introductions, polls, and surveys to get facts and data points to make the rest of the trip interesting (e.g., finding out everyone’s Game of Thrones spirit character and Harry Potter Houses made for some rousing bus games).
After leaving on the trip, we transition to GroupMe but it’s always fun to go back and see how everyone was on the Facebook group before we really knew each other.
August – It begins! After finishing our internships (in some cases, even cutting them short), we head to Chicago to get everyone together. A flurry of emails and calls also go out to make reservations for dinner and activities—we booked optional bespoked suit fittings, a motorbike tour, and bottle service in addition to the official events planned on the itinerary.
Random Walk Vietnam brunches before heading to the airport.
A pit stop in remote Hue only adds to the fun. Late night Despacito and Shape of You was a formative moment for the group.
After the Trip – Pay it forwarders that we are, Eli and I scoped out a few other locations in Vietnam for next year. One of the asks that we received this year was more beach time and swimming (recent local laws forbade swimming in Ha Long Bay), so we checked out the beach towns of Da Nang and Hoi An just a three hour drive from Hue, where we stopped this year. It was epic and we will definitely recommend it to next year’s leaders.
An impromptu addition to our Ha Long bay yacht overnight. Kayaking in open ocean was thrilling!