At Booth, there are many opportunities outside the classroom to flex your leadership skills. Whether it’s formal roles as a member of Graduate Business Council (Booth’s student government, colloquially known as “GBC”), a student group co-chair, or even an organizer of a Spring Break trip (HUGE groups of 1Ys go to Colombia and 2Ys go to Israel)—here’s never a shortage of formal or informal ways to get experience taking charge or motivating groups for the Booth community.
What are just as prevalent, but perhaps less heard about, are the ways you can work with diverse, non-business-related groups outside of Booth; experiences that I find even more formative. One particular opportunity in which Boothies have been getting more involved is Graduate Council (that’s GBC minus the B), the student government for all graduate students at the University of Chicago. I’ve found it particularly enriching for a few reasons.
It’s Great for Career Development
At Booth, your co-leaders and teammates have just as much experience and ability as you, and you’re pretty much always aligned on what needs to get done. While that’s reassuring as a hedge in case you need support or get tired from recruiting (almost done 1Ys!), outside of Booth you’ll be pushed to grow even further as a manager and leader when you’re the only one with your skillset.
Working with non-Booth teammates who may have a bit less organizational and management experience has presented me opportunity to give tips on things that I’ve learned, like interviewing candidates (Hi Booth prospective students!), operationalizing processes, and coaching and developing a leadership pipeline.
You’ll Learn Really Neat Things
On the flip side, my teammates in Graduate Council are light-years more intellectual, computational, whatever adjective that means smarter than me and I couldn’t be more excited about being the dumbest person in the room. Now, whenever the latest development in science comes out, I have people who can explain [insert topic] for Dummies to me. Most recently, I’ve learned about entanglement and gravitational waves not to mention genomics and cancer epidemiology that will be be useful to my upcoming role in pharma life science consulting.
You’ll Grapple with Things You Otherwise Wouldn’t
Last Friday in the last session of my really awesome Managing Service Operations class taught by Professor Christopher Ryan, his advice—quite philosophical for an ops class—to the room was that the reason we work is to lift the burden on others (I guess professors don’t have student loans, but hey!). In all seriousness, his advice rings true especially in leadership roles outside of Booth. I’ve thought about things that would never have crossed my mind otherwise.
One recent example was the tax bill going through the house. There was a provision in the bill that would tax tuition waivers doctoral candidates receive as income, increasing their tax burden significantly each year. Compounded with challenges (housing, transportation, etc that Graduate Council already works to alleviate) of living in a city off of a graduate stipend, this bill would be a heavy burden for my UChicago peers. My involvement in Graduate Council allowed me to understand the problem and think of ways for students to take action (automating contact to House reps, call scripts, etc) rather than just scroll through my News Feed. Even though that particular provision has passed one branch of legislature, I’ll keep working with the GC team to make sure the full burden doesn’t fall on graduate students should the bill become law.
Overall, leadership experiences outside of Booth have been one of the most enriching things I’ve been fortunate to get involved with while here and I hope to share other opportunities in which my peers have gotten involved, like nonprofit Board Fellows in upcoming posts.